Generations of consumers have washed their clothes with the idea that more soap means cleaner laundry (check out this article on The Great American Soap Overdose). New concentrates make pouring the correct dose even more confusing. Too much detergent in washing machines creates a high, foamy tide that lifts soil above the water level so it isn’t rinsed away. Clothes with residue fade faster and attract more dirt. Detergent buildup in the machine leads to odor, bacteria growth and unnecessary wear and tear.
I certainly don’t want to walk around with a chemical residue on my clothes or sleep in sheets laced with chemicals. Tide sells single-serve laundry detergent pods that work in regular and High Efficiency machines. If you have sensitive skin or are particularly interested in knowing what’s in your detergent make your own! Combine Borax, washing soda, and shredded soap in a food processor to make a powdered detergent. You can even substitute Oxi Clean for washing soda to give it an extra kick. Here is a great guide on Instructables. The cost of this detergent came out to 12 cents a load!
If making your own detergent isn’t your thing, there are other ways to limit the chemicals found in the fabrics that surround you and your family. Eco-friendly laundry detergents are now available at most grocery stores and natural food stores. Look for the Design for the Environment seal – these are products that are certified by the EPA to use the safest chemicals they can. The Design for the Environment certification is optional so not all manufacturers have applied.
Seventh Generation is one of the most popular and respected brands of eco-friendly cleaning supplies. They have two lines of laundry detergent: Natural (scented) and Free & Clear (for sensitive skin). Both come in powder, 2x and 4x concentrated liquids and they are all acceptable for use in High Efficiency machines. The cost of this detergent comes out to about 36 cents a load, but falls to 13 cents if you have an HE washer. In a review on Grist.org, Seventh Generation products were found to be the best at removing most of all stains.
Another popular and respected alternative is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products. Their laundry detergents contain plant products and essential oils. They only come in liquid, but all are HE friendly. They have great plant-based scents like Lavender, Rosemary, Bluebell, Basil and Geranium. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products are also significantly less expensive than Seventh Generation products, coming out to about 24 cents per load.
If you’re looking to limit your family’s exposure to chemicals, laundry detergent is a great place to start. Many of us err on the side of too much detergent and are unaware that our clothes and sheets have a chemical residue. Eco-friendly laundry detergents may be pricy, but keep in mind that when you buy them you are supporting that company’s efforts to keep the environment clean!