Clean Your Clothes With Safe Laundry Products
There are a lot of so called safe laundry detergents out there but have you actually read the ingredients? Some of the ingredients are surfactants, emulsifiers, additives. Some laundry detergents contain “optical brighteners”. These are fluorescent dyes that glow blue-white in ultraviolet light. The blue-white color makes yellowed fabrics appear white.
Laundry detergent may also contain polyethylene glycol, a polymer that prevents dirt from re-depositing on the clothes. This function used to be the job of phosphates. Another polymer used for this purpose is carboxy methyl cellulose. This is derived from natural cellulose, but is very soluble in water.
Yet another ingredient in laundry detergents is Diethyl Ester Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride (DEEDMAC). It is a fabric softener. It is a cationic surfactant that is rapidly biodegradable. It works by reducing the friction between fibers, and between fibers and the skin. Cationic surfactants are those where the hydrophilic part (in this case the ammonium chloride) is positively charged, and is attracted to substrates that are negatively charged, such as proteins and many synthetic fabrics. Hair conditioners use this trick also. You can think of a hair conditioner as fabric softener for your head.
A cationic surfactant will often have an ammonium group attached to a halogen, as in the ammonium chloride mentioned above. Anionic surfactants, such as soap, often have a sodium, potassium, or ammonium group, as in sodium stearate.
Non-ionic surfactants like polyethylene glycol esters (PEG) are used as mild cleansers, or to add viscosity to a mixture like shampoo.
Amphoteric surfactants are those that are an acid and a base at the same time (like water is). Cocamidopropyl betaine is an example, used in shampoos to stabilize foam and thicken the mixture.
Some examples of detergents and surfactants are:
Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate
There are safe and natural detergents you can use instead. There are also some extra steps you can take to get rid of stains safely and clean your clothing safely without any chemicals
1 Supplement your safe laundry detergent with borax. Borax is a naturally occurring compound that’s also a powerful deodorizer. You can buy borax in the cleaning product aisle of most grocery stores.
2 Remove grass and spill stains with lemon juice. This natural product is perfect for cleaning stains by hand after the fact as well as on-the-spot emergency stain removal.
3 Add small amounts of vinegar to your laundry. Vinegar brightens colors when used in conjunction with safe laundry detergents. If you don’t already have vinegar, you can pick it up at your local grocery store.
4 Stock up on natural liquid soaps for regular cleaning. These products clean clothes effectively while leaving out the toxins of name-brand products. There are plenty of liquid soaps made from natural fats and oils. You can find them at health or natural food stores. One good brand is Seventh Generation, you can find it Amazon.com or health food stores, Whole Foods and sometimes Target has it.
5 Clean your silk and delicate clothing by hand. Hand washing will protect delicate clothing while allowing you to use smaller amounts of detergent with each load.
6 Mix 1 cup of baking soda for each large load of laundry. Baking soda is a strong natural cleaning agent. It’s especially useful for smelly or heavily-stained clothing.
7 Read natural and non-toxic laundry detergent labels carefully. Products with artificial coloring, scents or petroleum-based dyes aren’t sustainable. Labels like “organic-certified” and ingredients such as citrus oil are good indicators a product is non-toxic. Understand these nuances by reading the EPA’s fact sheet online