An Organic Laundry Detergent & Eco-Friendly Cleaning Solution
- by Jeanie Beresford
So many of us today are conscious about maintaining our well-being. We do research, read labels, make sure we get exercise and spend time outdoors. We seek solace in spirit, meditate, and drink plenty of water, fresh juices, and green smoothies.
One of the things often overlooked in our quest for health involves the largest organ we have — our skin. What is on our skin every day? Clothing! And how do most of us typically wash our clothing? …With toxins, of course. Blah!
Despite the bleach and the brighteners, using a toxin-laden, non-organic laundry detergent to clean your clothes doesn’t seem like a very bright idea. …Here’s why!
Toxins Found in Laundry Detergents
Some of the toxins found in laundry detergents include:
- Napthas, or petroleum distillates, have been linked to lung inflammation and cancer as well as affecting the mucous membranes.
- Phenols, another chemical, are rapidly absorbed but the body and causes rapid toxicity through the entire body via the nervous system, heart, blood and lungs and kidneys. It is particularly toxic to those who are hyper sensitive to it as low exposures to this substance can even lead to their death!
- Nonyl phenol ethoxlyate, a surfactant, has been banned in Europe as a hazard to human and environmental safety. It also slowly biodegrades into even more toxic compounds and is an endocrine disruptor to humans, while also toxic to aquatic organisms.
- lAS is another surfactant commonly used in laundry detergents. This substance releases slowly biodegrading benzene into the environment.
- Phosphates, although most states have banned them, can still be found in some laundry detergents. They help soften water, but when added to our natural environment, stimulate the growth of some marine plants which then lead to an unbalanced ecosystem.
- EDTA is an accepted alternative to phosphates, yet it does not biodegrade well and unfortunately, can re-dissolve toxic heavy metals into the environment allowing them to re-enter the food chain.
The Not-So-Bright Side of Bleach
Optical brighteners are often added and they make the clothes appear whiter, though the clothes are actually no cleaner. Brighteners can also cause allergic skin reactions in humans when the skin is later exposed to sunlight.
In light of these facts, it’s a bright idea to avoid using bleach on your baby’s clothing, sheets, and towels — including your own!
Bleach is involved in more household poisonings than any other chemical. It is toxic to fish, and is believed to cause reproductive, endocrine and immune system disorders.
And how about the wonderful fragrances? Many are petroleum based and known hormone disruptors as well as immune system irritants. Many of these chemicals remain on our clothing, brushing the skin and entering dermally to do their damage.
An Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent
Have you ever thought about using a natural laundry detergent? In my quest for a more natural way to clean my clothes, I accidentally discovered an organic soap commonly referred to as soap nuts.
A few years ago I purchased my first small bag of soap nuts — also known as soap berries.
Being naturally curious, I wanted experiment with them and try them out. The result? I now use nothing else for my laundry. Amazingly, they truly clean!
Soap nuts are actually not a nut, but a seed casing for the Sapindus Makorossi tree, so no fear for those who have nut allergies. They contain a natural saponin, or soap, and in my humble opinion clean just as well as most laundry detergents.
Though Sapindus grows throughout the world, including the south western region of the United States, the ones that contain the most saponin are found in India and the Himalayans. There are ethical companies out there who sell fairly traded harvested soap nuts.
A Cleaning Solution from Soap to Nuts!
How do you use soap nuts? Just place 5-6 nuts into a drawstring muslin bag and toss into the wash! If you wash using cold water, then first warm them up in some hot water to activate and enable the little nuts to do what they do best — clean.
Soap nuts can be used over and over until they begin to soften, which is usually after 5-7 loads. You can dispose of them in your compost and refill the bag. That’s it!
Your laundry will come out clean, fresh smelling and naturally soft. Because of their PH, they are safe for even the most delicate of washable fabrics. And since they don’t contain any unnatural chemicals, they’ll eventually clean the cloth fibers of the chemicals previously used on your clothing!
Cloth diapers will even become more absorbent! Soap nuts are perfect for babies clothing as well as children and big people with allergies and skin sensitivities.
Soap nuts can also be easily made into a cleansing liquid. Simply simmer 5-6 nuts in a quart of water for an hour or so, let sit overnight, and strain into a spray container with water. You can then use the resulting solution to:
- clean surfaces and floors
- use in your dishwasher
- clean carpets
- dilute and spray on plants as an herbicide
- use as a shampoo and body wash for people and pets
And as if all of that is not enough, soap nuts are 100% compostable, safe for the septic systems, and excellent for high efficiency washers – you can even skip the rinse cycle!
Using soap nuts as an alternative to standard household detergents will not only keep you, your family, and environment free from toxins, but they’ll help you save gallons of water for every wash cycle as well.
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Tags: eco-friendly cleaners, environmentally friendly cleaners, green cleaning, green living, natural cleaners for the home, natural laundry detergent, natural solutions, organic laundry soap, organic soap, soap nuts, The Green Parent, toxins found in laundry deterget
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