Laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets are major offenders when it comes to your daily toxin exposure. I’m not just talking about your risk of exposure to toxic chemicals while you’re doing and folding laundry. You wear that stuff too (it’s called clothes). Probably all day! Who knew laundry could be so dangerous?
When I first started down the more health-conscious path, I easily fell into eating organic, exercising in a way that was good for my body, taking time for myself to recover and recharge, etc. It took me a bit longer to jump on the no-toxin-zone train, however. When I had my daughter, that gave me a big incentive to really embrace the idea that what we put ON our bodies is just as important as what we put IN our bodies. Reducing the amount of environmental toxins that I exposed myself and my family to became very important to me.
So, I’m glad you’re here, wanting to make a healthier environment for yourself and your family. Let’s dive into my 4 Tips for Safer Laundry:
1. Use a Safe Detergent
Detergents can be riddled with toxic chemicals, dyes, and fragrances. A single fragrance in a detergent can contain a mixture of hundreds of chemicals, a lot of them being toxic. Use a detergent that is free from fragrances and harsh chemicals, and is safe for the environment.
Check out how your current detergent ranks here. I was surprised to find that my favorite-no-more detergent was not a great choice (Like, by far…it was really bad! #MomFail) Or make your own and get some major DIY brownie points! It’s super-simple. You only need three ingredients: baking soda, bar soap and borax. Far from rocket science.
2. Whiten Naturally
If you won’t use it to whiten your teeth, don’t use it to whiten your clothes! There should be NO bleach in your house (or in your mouth). There’s just no reason to use bleach, for anything, in my opinion. There are so many safe alternatives for whitening and disinfecting, think, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, boiling water, and essential oils.
Bleach is bad news for your drains. It gives off toxic gases, called chloramines, when it comes in contact with acids. And the manufacturing of bleach is hazardous to the environment. Plus, exposure to bleach can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs.
Natural whiteners include, baking soda, vinegar, borax, lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide. Just add ½ cup of one, or a combination of the aforementioned safe whiteners, to your wash. Presto! Whiter clothes!
3. Use Vinegar for Softener
Who doesn’t love soft clothes, right? But chemical fabric softeners are scary-scary. They commonly contain harmful chemicals like, A-Terpineol, Chloroform, Ethanol, Benzyl Acetate, Benzyl Alcohol, Pentane, Ethyl Acetate, Linalool, Camphor, Limonene and Phthalates. No thank you!
Vinegar is the way to go when you want to get your washing softer than a baby’s bottom! Do NOT use your nice Balsamic, okay? I’m talking about white vinegar. Add at least 1/4 cup to the softener container in your washing machine for each load.
4. Dryer Sheets or Dryer Balls?
This one is my absolute favorite tips for safer laundry (which you probably already guessed)!
Dryer sheets contain many of the chemicals found in the fabric softener offender (list above in tip 3) leading to skin irritation, respiratory problems, and even malignancies, when the carcinogenic chemicals accumulate in tissues. Yuck!
Use felted wool dryer balls instead. You can add a few drops of essential oil onto a ball to make your clothes smell pretty. Throw in at least 4 balls with a big load of laundry. Your clothes will dry faster, saving you money, and your clothes will come out with less wrinkles, saving you time! Bonus points for making your own dryer balls. Learn how on this DIY tutorial, How to Make Felted Wool Dryer Balls.
Do humanity and sheep-anity a solid favor and ditch the dryer sheets once and for all. Who’s with me?