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The laundry comes fresh out of the dryer and you stick your face in the pile of warm clothes to breath in deep. What does it smell like? Is it a clean, fresh smell? That “so fresh and so clean” smell can come at a high cost. If you are like many people who purchase the typical laundry detergent, it actually smells like an array of harmful chemicals that are irritating to your lungs and skin, at best, or potentially cancerous at worst. Is it time to switch your toxic laundry habits for a more natural laundry detergent?
Most people don’t stop to think about their laundry detergent because they put it in the washer and it washes away, right? Wrong! You still smell something that many call, “clean” on the clothes after you have washed them with these chemicals. The chemicals are still there. You are breathing them in and absorbing them through your skin.
The chemicals used in fragrance don’t have to be disclosed because of trade secrets. Fragrance is a combination of often times harmful chemicals, including phthalates which are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors mess with your hormones. They use more chemicals to make sure that smell sticks to your clothes since people like it so much. Yup, more chemicals!
That fresh smell is also there to hide the smell of other chemicals. Hidden in those jugs of fresh smelling detergent you will often also find petrochemicals to help get your clothes clean, phenols which mess with your hormones, benzene which is a carcinogen and many other harmful ingredients. Ingredients the detergent companies are betting on the consumer not caring about because the smell and convenience come first when the consumer thinks its just going in the washing machine. They won’t change either if the consumer doesn’t see the hidden cost for their health and the environment.
The hidden cost of buying the most common brands off the shelves is the irritating and harmful chemicals. It’s silly when you can buy safe options that you need less of to get your clothes clean. Better yet, make your own and know exactly what you are putting on your clothes that you wear all day. It is very easy to do and can save you a lot of money.
At my house, you won’t find Tide in the laundry room. Here are some of suggestions to get you started with everything from “Crunchy Dabbler” to “Ultra Crunchy” options.
Healthier and Safer Options
Not ready for full blown crunchy and want something convenient? Seventh Generation offers some great options that are cleaner. This brand can often be found in your local grocery store which makes it easier to be crunchy. Not all of the options in their line are as clean so check out ewg.org before you shop. They offer a rating system that makes shopping easier if you don’t know what all the chemicals are.
Honest Company Laundry Packs
We get the unscented ones! Many of the products from Honest Company are popular around here because they are a reputable company that you can be confident in. These tabs are easy to order online through the company or your favorite online retailer. They are convenient to use around the house and travel easy, so you can be crunchy on vacation too.
This detergent uses a natural enzyme that is gentle on clothes and because you use less you can get more loads out of the bottle. That makes it gentle on your wallet too.
Make Your Own
It’s actually really simple to make your own. Even easier if you aren’t making the liquid and its really low cost. You can be crunchy and frugal too. My wife uses 1 box borax, 1 box washing soda and 2 grated bars of Fels Naptha. Just mix them all together and you have an easy laundry detergent.
This one is for the “ultra-crunchy,” but even being ultra-crunchy is easy! If you have lots of allergies or want to avoid chemicals there is an easy way to go with these reusable soap nuts. The dried fruit produce a soap that’s all natural, gentle and effective! Nature is crazy, right?
Other ways to Reduce Chemicals in Your Laundry
Healthier Fresh Smells
Worried you will miss having clothes that smell good? Our family uses Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Scent Booster in our laundry routine. My girls like the peony scented best. Now they know what healthy clothes smell like and they don’t like the chemically-scented clothes.
Vinegar to Reduce Static
Everybody hates static cling, but don’t feel like you have to go running back to the chemicals. Add ¼ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle to reduce static.
Ball of Fresh Fun
Use dryer balls, like Woolzies, as another way to reduce static. These can be used over and over plus your dryer won’t be emitting harmful VOC’s because of them. You can add your favorite essential oils to give your clothes a natural scent. Keep an eye on them if you have a dog. Dogs love them too, so you might have to buy an extra set.
Natural Smells Even Better
When you breath in deep and your clothes smell of natural laundry, or essentials oils, you’re going to feel confident that you aren’t harming you or your family’s health. It’s easy and you can start somewhere with your next stop at the grocery store. Replace your laundry with loads of toxins with loads of healthy confidence.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn
What do you use for treating stains?
Hi Claire! Thank you for your question! We use the Fels Naptha bars on our stains to help pretreat them .
I’m new here and really enjoying your website! Thank you! Another healthy option for Tide toxins is Young Living’s Thieves Laundry Soap!m. (I use all the other Thieves cleaning products too with great success!)
Synthetic Fragrances are so bad for us! I must point out that your recommendation for Mrs Meyers products concerns me! Their Clean Day Scent Boosters, like many of their products, are reported on the Think Dirty app as an 8, which is toxic! I use Young Living pure essential oils on wool dryer balls and they work beautifully. My laundry, and my home and my neighborhood aren’t full of toxic fumes! Please consider removing that recommendation. Thanks. I’m new here and otherwise enjoying your website and information, thus far.
Hi! What is your opinion of the Norwex brand laundry soap and stain remover?
Hi Christine, Norwex has a reputation for cleaner, nontoxic products. They would be a safer bet then what you find in the standard soaps. We use some of their products too!