One of my most favorite things to do when I was younger (and by younger, I mean I did this up until my 20s!) was to just lay on top of a big pile of warm laundry fresh out of the dryer! The warmth and the smell of what I imagine Spring to smells like surrounded me – making it the most perfect nap spot. But then I got married and had kids and this is how I feel when I see that mountainous pile of clean laundry:
Back to my point, I just loved how my laundry smelled, but never realized how awful it could be for my health. The majority of traditional laundry detergents today have a plethora of harmful chemicals. All detergents leave behind a residue on the clothing after it has been washed, which is absorbed into our skin and inhaled! Additionally, popular laundry detergent manufacturers do not fully disclose their complete list of ingredients due to “trade secrets”. This was frustrating for me because I wanted to know exactly what was in the product so I could make the determination whether it was safe to use or not.
Some ingredients found in conventional laundry detergents are:
-Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is an emulsifying detergent used in thousands of products. Some studies have shown it can cause irritation to the skin, while other claim it is safe. Some of the detergents listed below do contain SLS but in smaller quantities. If you have sensitive skin, it is probably best to avoid it.
-1,4-dioxane – This is one of the worst ingredients! It is classified by the EPA as a probable carcinogen. Causes headaches and vertigo, irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, and possible kidney and liver damage.
-NPE (nonylphenol ethoxylate) – This is a petrochemical surfactant that has been banned in Europe and Canada, but not in the USA. Causes hormonal imbalance, and has been found to cause sex changes in fish. Harmful also for the environment.
-Optical Brighteners – These are quite popular in laundry detergents to give a look of brightness to clothing, but that does not mean it cleans it any better. And for it to work, it has to remain on the clothing after the wash. Has been known to cause irritation and an allergic reaction to the skin. Not biodegradable, has been known to be toxic to fish and other animals and may cause mutations.
-Fragrances – This is a tough one to avoid because majority of detergents have it and let’s face it, we all love it when our clothes smells of delicious fruit. But this is one ingredient that should be avoided! Fragrance is often listed under the name “phthalates” which can have some serious side effects including birth defects, cancer, and hormonal disruption. Opt for unscented products which you can add essential oils in to give them fragrance.
1. ecover 2x Laundry Detergent: This detergent is made with all natural plant-based ingredients and is good for the environment. 100% natural fragrance leaves clothes smelling fresh and clean. Comes in lavender field, alpine mint, and unscented. Where to buy: ecover.com, amazon.com, soap.com
2. Green Shield Organic Laundry Detergent: this detergent is made with USDA Certified Organic ingredients and great for people with sensitive skin or allergies. Ingredients are derived from plant or animal products. SLS free. Where to buy: greensheildorganic.com, amazon.com, soap.com
3. Whole Foods 365 Everyday Laundry Detergent, Mountain Fresh: we love this detergent because it is plant based and does not contain phosphates, phthalates, chlorine or dyes. SLS Free. Where to buy: Whole Foods.
4. The Honest Company 4-in-1 Laundry Pods: Pods are great because you don’t have to measure, throw one in and you’re done. This one is great for sensitive skin, even for babies! Works in both HE and standard machines in all water temperatures. Biodegradable and cruelty free. SLS free. Where to buy: Amazon, Target, Honest.com
5. Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent Packs, Free and Clear: These pods are good for use in both standard and HE washers. Plant derived cleaning agents, kosher, and cruelty free. Where to buy: Amazon, Target, seventhgeneration.com
6. DIY Natural Laundry Detergent: It’s super simple to make your own laundry detergent and is a fraction of the cost of store bought ones, here is the tutorial!
7. Soap Nuts: These are gentle on clothes and skin, especially for people with really sensitive skin. The natural soap found in these berries is called saponin, which is a natural cleanser that works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric, and leaving dirt suspended in the water that is rinsed away. Where to buy: Amazon, Walmart
Laundry Tip: I keep a huge bag of baking soda in the laundry room, and throw in a half cup into the load when I do my towels. It helps to get rid of bad odors and they come out really clean!