Friday, May 18, 2012
When I hang my damp laundry out in the sun and fresh air, it smells so delicious when I bring them in--especially the sheets.
I could just bring in my dish rag and throw it over the faucet to dry, but there are some bacteria-fighting properties in the sun's ultra-violet rays, as well as bleaching properties for mild stains or yellowing on white clothing. If you don't have a backyard like I do to hang out your clothes, have a look at the Urban Clothlines for options. If you are having trouble being allowed to hang out your laundry, have a look at the Project Laundry List site for ideas. They also have a calculator to see how much money you would save by not using your dryer.
For washing my laundry, I am currently using Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent. It is biodegradable, hypo-allergencic, and free of perfumes and dyes. My kind of cleaner. But the truth is that I've never really noticed the difference in any of the laundry cleaners that I've used--regular or natural--except I don't like a perfume smell on my clothes. I've even used Soap Nuts, and they worked just fine for me. I guess soap nuts are actually berries grown in Nepal and India, but you throw those babies into the wash and they clean your clothes. Go figure.
For stains, I simply wet the stained area and rub it with soap as soon as I can after the stain is made, and then toss the article into the laundry bag. It works for me. I think the variety of fabrics, the types of stains, and the different minerals and chemicals in our water make it difficult to know what would work best for a particular stain, but there are a lot of recipes out there. Here is one recipe from a busy mom's blog that works for her.
I don't use a softener, but if I did, I'd just use white vinegar--my friends swear by it! Sometimes I add a bit of Borax or Washing Soda to my wash if I remember to take it to the laundromat. It's supposed to boost the detergent, but like I said--I'm not that fussy.
study they found that the only "green" cleaner that worked well enough for them is Seventh Generation. Maybe I don't notice much difference because I don't get that dirty--I don't know....
But there are many reasons to use a natural laundry detergent instead of the many petroleum-based ones in the store. And I will leave you here, as this gets a little too technical--and I need to check my laundry line.
The US Environmental Protection Agency lists the key characteristics of laundry detergent by materials in laundry detergents, and it ain't pretty:
Surfactants: Toxicity to aquatic organisms, like fish (vertebrates), daphnids (invertebrates) and algae; persistence in the environment; toxicity of biodegradation byproducts.
Builders: Potential to cause eutrophication in fresh water (eutrophication is the process by which a body of water becomes rich in dissolved nutrients, diminishing oxygen levels and a water body's ability to support various forms of aquatic life).
Bleach: Inherent toxicity and toxic byproducts. Examples: Sodium hypochlorite, which can form hazardous gases and chlorinated organic byproducts; may also damage fibers in clothing and fabrics, which can lead to the generation of excess lint, a potential fire hazard during drying; Sodium perborate, which can present both human health and ecological concerns; and Dichloro-isocyanurate may form toxic gas, nitrogen-trichloride, a threat to human health.
Colorants: Toxicity. Studies indicate that certain colorants may cause cancer or other adverse health effects in humans (e..g., Rhodamine B). Metalized dyes present health and environmental concerns.
Optical Brighteners: Potential toxicity to humans. Examples: Aminotriazine- or stilbene-based whiteners. Toxicity data indicate that these compounds may cause developmental and reproductive effects, but additional testing is needed to confirm these concerns.
Solvents: Toxicity to humans and aquatic organisms. Examples: For human health concerns, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether; for environmental concerns, d-limonene.
Wash Water: Highly caustic or acidic wash environments; may cause severe irritation or burns to living tissue in humans or aquatic organisms. Example: High alkaline breaks, low pH sours. Highly alkaline ingredients can lead to alkaline hydrolysis on polyester fibers, shortening linen life. Extreme pH effluents may also damage pipes and sewer lines.