The clothes you wear and the sheets you sleep on are in constant contact with your skin. Babies and children's skin are more sensitive and it's important to know what the "mountain fresh" or Citrus scent is really coming from. It's so important to stock your laundry room with safe and non-toxic products!
Realize when you wash your clothes, towels, rugs, and bedding, the chemicals in these products do not completely wash off. This includes your detergent, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets. Even some natural or "green" brands are not as safe as they claim to be on the front label. The chemicals left in your clothes are on your skin, and your children's' skin all day.
So you are probably wondering what the most toxic chemicals are in your laundry products, right?
Fragrances, surfactants (cleaning agents), stabilizers, bleach, brighteners, phosphates, 1-4 dioxane, and EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) are found in these products. These are known carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and VOC's. They also cause skin irritation, dermatitis, and nerve/organ toxicity.
Using a non-toxic detergent or cleaning products doesn't mean your clothes will stink. The brands and resources I'm going to share really work!
What To Avoid
Sodium Borate- can be toxic to pregnant mothers, babies, and young adults who have sensitive skin.
Sodium borate gets an F from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) for documented concerns over developmental and reproductive toxicity, as well as some lesser concerns with skin allergies, irritation, asthma, and respiratory issues.
This so-called natural product is found in many trusted laundry detergents, including Mrs. Meyer’s, Tide, Babyganics, The Honest Co., and even Whole Foods Market and its 365 Everyday Value brand.
We want to rely on good natural brands, but you still need to look at the ingredients or scan it with your EWG app.
Ethanolamine- also gets an F from the EWG thanks to serious concerns over its impact on the respiratory system and other organs, as well as a lower level of concern about its effects on the nervous system and the potential to cause skin irritation or allergic response.
If you read from our other articles you can find more about why fragrances are one of the worst chemicals in products. Now there can be good and bad fragrances. Ones that can be good come from pure essential oils, stay away from anything else that is not that. Bad ones are synthetic and contain phthalates and styrene (human carcinogen). Styrene is found in cigarette smokes, car exhaust, and styrofoam. Read more about phthalates in our body care detox article.
What About Dryer Sheets, Bleach, & Softeners?
These contains many fragrances, colorants, preservatives, and other harmful chemicals.
Some to look for are:
2.diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride
3.hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate
4.biodegradable fabric softening agents
Bleach on the other hand, can mix with organic matter and produce chloroform. It also produces chloramime gas which happens when it's mixed with ammonium (which can be a carcinogen). There are other great natural ways to beat stains and get whites clean!
Thankfully, there are effective and safe products out there to use.
Instead of harmful chemical infused detergent, use (not in any particular order):
1.Charlie's Soap- Great clean detergents. Just make sure to read the ingredient list before buying some of their other products.
2.Rockin Green-Works great to get the funk smell out of clothes or diapers!
3.Young Living Thieves Detergent-smells and works great!
4. My Green Fills-Love this company and what they stand for. I personally use their products. All non-toxic great products and they are eco-friendly. They also sell dryer angels (which are my favorite,they are infused with natural essential oils/herbs)
5. Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap-You can use this for multiple things! Especially if you are looking to save, definitely something to look into. Here is a cheat sheet on how much to use when washing. 1/3 cup-1/2 cup of soap for washing as large load in a normal washer. Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle. Use half the amount of HE washers.
6.EWG verified- Here is a list on their website as well if you are looking for more options to choose from!
*Try making your own DIY recipes for laundry soap. I'll be sharing mine in a different article.
*You can also always add in lemon or tea tree essential oil right before you add your laundry soap to freshen up loads that smell.
*Baking soda and lemon juice also make great non toxic laundry detergent boost. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your liquid detergent to increase its effectiveness and ability to whiten your whites and or add a cup of fresh lemon juice to help remove discoloration and rust stains from cotton clothes.
Dryer Balls/ Dryer Angels
Instead of using dryer sheets, try some dryer balls or a dryer angel. I use both and love them! Dryer balls really help to absorb moisture, combat static electricity, and keep your clothes soft while drying. You can also add essential oils like orange, lavender, or peppermint to freshen up the clothes. You can also try a dryer angel from www.mygreenfills.com. They are handmade and work wonderfully for making my clothes and towels smell fresh without toxins!
Cleaning Your Washer
If you use laundry tablets to clean your washer, set them aside and make your own cleaner. Try using 1 cup hydrogen peroxide and 8-10 drops tea tree essential oil. Mix this in a spray bottle and spray all the sides of the inside of the washer. Let it sit for 15 minutes and then dump 1 cup of baking soda right into the washer and run the clean cycle. After that dump 2 cups of vinegar into the washer and run the clean cycle again. It will be fresh and clean!
Next Steps To A Healthier Home
I hope this article for non-toxic laundry has been helpful as you start to better your health and home. Start swapping out your detergent and grab one of the ones listed or find another safe brand. Start enjoying what you wear and sleep on instead of worrying if the chemicals are leeching into your skin. Knowledge is power, and you are one more step closer to living a more non-toxic lifestyle!