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What's the Scoop on Laundry Detergent?

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We get phone calls all the time from customers asking for tips on keeping the integrity of organic clothing when washing. With so many “natural” detergents on the market, and with companies not being required to disclose everything that goes in them, it is easy to be duped into buying a detergent that you think is natural when it's really not.

I remember ages ago, when I had a washing machine repairman at my house and he told me that most of the ingredients that go into washing machine soap is not even to get clothes clean - but to help keep your washing machine working! I mean to me, there is a big difference between cleaning fabrics and making sure a machine is well lubricated! …Really?!

Parents are always asking us about safe and natural laundry detergent for babies, but they should really be looking into a detergent for the entire family. Laundry detergents leave a residue on clothing, so when you’re holding your baby next to you, your baby can absorb the chemical residue, potentially causing ill effects like skin rashes and eye irritation.

Here are a few tips when choosing a natural laundry detergent:

  • If the brand is 100% transparent, they will list all the ingredients on their website. If they don’t, then don’t buy it.
  • If you don’t know what an ingredient is, call the company and ask. A few years ago, we were thinking of selling laundry detergent on our website and when we asked about a product, we found out that it was tallow based. If you are vegan, then you would not want this type of laundry soap because it is made from tallow.
  • Fragrances influence the perception of cleanliness and that's why brands often load up their detergents with fragrances. Artificial fragrances can be the culprit for chemical sensitivity, allergic reactions, and rashes. If you want a scent, go with a detergent that has natural scents like rosemary and lavender.
  • Choose a laundry soap that is phthalate-free
  • Eliminate optical brighteners. Companies include optical brighteners in laundry detergent as stain treaters; however, they do not remove stains at all. They coat clothing with a substance that reflects visible light, so you can’t see stains - they are stain hiders. Besides being a known carcinogen, they can also fade and wear out your clothes fast, and irritate your eyes, skin, and lungs!
  • Avoid chlorine bleach at all cost. If you want to go for a DIY bleach alternative, try lemon juice and sun. It works perfectly if weather permits.
  • Look for a company with a good EWG rating! The Environmental Working Group is a great resource to find out more about ingredients and transparency. They look at labels, websites, material safety data sheets and a whole slew of things to determine if brands are safe and then gives them a rating.
  • For example: Grab Green Laundry Detergent has many types of products. Some are labeled as “A” and some as “B”. You can see why they gave it the rating they did, and then you can decide if you still want to purchase that product or not. If you are looking in a specific category like laundry detergents, they will give you the list of top-rated products. What a great resource!
  • Here is the link to their website.

 With so much information available, it’s easier than ever to choose products that are good for you, your family, and the environment!


1 comment

  • Bettina Jochum Duller: July 25, 2019

    We use the Greenshield Organic, fragrance free laundry detergent. Even for washing our organic diapers it works very well. We do have a steam washing maschine though.

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