Chemical Laden Laundry detergents - there is a better optionBY DIONNE LISTER
I have a husband and two children, so laundry detergent is something I use every day. I could say that looking into what is in these products was a little scary, but I’ve acclimatized to finding toxic or allergenic ingredients in many of the products I once trusted. I have a front-loading washing machine but these ingredients translate into top loaders as well. I will tell you about some of the harmful ingredients then let you know about some ‘greener’ detergents I have recently road tested.
Laundry detergents contain the following ingredients, which can be toxic or skin and eye allergens, not to mention those that have the potential to be harmful to the environment. These ingredients are; propylene glycol (a petroleum derivative), sodium lauryl sulfate, perfume, sodium distyrylbiphenyl disulfonate, styrene/acrylates copolymer and CI 42051 (Patent Blue V) which is a dye and an allergen.
That seems like a lot of irritating chemicals; ones I would rather not have soak into my clothes and leech into the waterways. I’ve road-tested three ‘greener’ alternatives and had mixed results.
It comes in recycled packaging, is Australian made and owned, is certified cruelty free and has readily biodegradable surfactants with no petrochemicals. It cleaned my clothes just as well as the more famous brands. I did like the smell (which was quite strong), although that can be a problem.
There can be allergens in fragrances, and since these ingredients aren’t listed I don’t know what’s really in there. This one does contain sodium coco sulfate, which, even though it is derived from coconuts, is still a type of sodium lauryl sulfate. I find this a little sneaky and a form of greenwashing.
They have said the product is plant derived, and they are right, but a sodium sulfate is a sodium sulfate.
They are a truly green option. They are what they say—nuts that contain a natural soapy substance. They are great for many reasons. I bought mine from New Internationalist http://www.newint.com.au/shop/index.htm who are a fair trade organisation. The soap nuts are sustainably produced in India, and 100% natural so there’s no artificial anything in them. They are hypoallergenic, biodegradable and compostable. The soap nuts are about the size of a macadamia nut.
To use, you put 4-6 nuts in a small cloth bag and chuck them in with the wash. You can re-use each lot about 4 times. They worked fine. I was happy with the results as they cleaned my clothes. The only problem with these is that the little bag you put the nuts in gets lost and you have to rummage around in the washing to find it. Maybe not a problem if you line dry, but more of a problem if you are going to use the dryer (yes I know that’s not environmentally friendly but it happens). I would recommend these as a fantastic, totally guilt-free product.
The last one I tried was ‘Aware for sensitive skin’ from Planet Ark. I didn’t like this one. I wasn’t partial to the mild smell, and it didn’t get rid of anything that was mildly staining. The positives were that the packaging is 95% recycled, it can be used in front or top loaders, contains renewable plant ingredients, is not tested on animals, and contains no fragrances.
This would be suitable if the clothes had no really dirty marks, but since I have a husband and 2 young boys, this is not going to meet my every day washing challenges.
If you don’t like any of the above alternatives there are websites that give you recipes for laundry detergent that contain minimal ingredients. If anyone has any other laundry detergents you’d like to recommend, please let us know and we’ll put them in our Home & Garden, Eco cleaning products section. Happy washing peeps.