Ahhh. The fresh, flowery scent of clean laundry chemicals. Pine-mountain freshness irritating your skin while Fields-of-flowers is absorbed into your blood-stream.
All right. I’m not sure if that last bit is true. But I do know that laundry soap can exacerbate skin problems like eczema (which I used to get a lot before living clean) and the chemicals in laundry soap (even in some DIY laundry detergent recipes) include some that cause skin irritation, respiratory distress, and reproductive issues. Don’t believe me? Go look up your current laundry detergent on The Environmental Working Group’s Consumer Guide. Name brand original laundry soap (not the “scented” kinds) typically get “F” scores. That’s “F” as in “Fail.”
Let’s break down the ingredients and why they are/could be harmful to you. Guys, I can’t make this stuff up. It’s bad.
Fragrance: But it smells nice and clean! I know, but artificial fragrances can damage skin and lungs through irritation, and they can have an effect on your entire respiratory and nervous systems. Also, many of these fragrances are suspected carcinogens (let me translate: CANCER).
Sulfonates: (Specifically Linear alkyl sodium sulfonates) Major skin and eye irritants (plus, these babies are bad for the environment). Not to mention they damage your developmental/endocrine/reproductive systems. No big deal.
Ethoxlates: DNA and hormone disruptors.
Why would I want that next to my skin? I wouldn’t. I’ve got enough health problems going on that I don’t need to invite more in. Why would you?
Guess what? I haven’t washed my clothes with laundry soap in about two years for that very reason. Is that gross? It shouldn’t be. I wash my clothes still. Just not with fabric softener bombs and toxic packets.
I would like to say that I was inspired by living chemical free. I would like to say that, but, to be quite frank, I did it because I didn’t have any money for laundry soap. I had just given birth to my son and we started running out of the gifts of laundry soap from my baby shower, and we couldn’t find anywhere in our budget to buy expensive baby laundry soap as well as diapers and wipes. I needed something cheap but something that pulls the gross smell out of laundry (because babies don’t just pee in their diapers–they pee while you are changing them, all over the floor and your clothes too–mom’s, am I right?). And something that has no prep time (I definitely don’t have time to make a goopy laundry soap). Something that is just as easy as throwing a 1/3 cup of laundry soap and pouring fabric softener in.
You’re not going to believe me when I show you what I use.
That’s right. Good, old-fashioned baking soda and vinegar, bought in bulk from Costco.
Can you believe it? This stuff is so cheap! One 13.5 lb bag of baking soda costs me about $7.00 (I say about because I it has been so long since I bought the stuff that I can’t actually remember the price). And one gallon of vinegar costs me $2.30 (but they come in a two pack so it’s really $4.60).
Here’s a break down of how much it costs me per load and how much I use:
One 13.5 lb bag of baking soda = 108 loads at 1/4 cup each = $0.06
Two gallons of vinegar = 128 loads at 1/4 cup each = $0.04
That’s $0.10 per load! Ridiculous! I used to pay three times that for the off-brand detergent that I was buying. And it’s just as simple to use as any pre-boxed laundry detergent or liquid fabric softener. And I don’t miss the fragrances!
Here’s how I use it:
- Start washing machine so water is starting to flow.
- Add 1/4 cup of baking soda directly into the washer (double for really gross laundry).
- Add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the bleach OR fabric softener drains (double for really gross laundry).
- (optional) Add 5-10 drops of a citrus essential oil (We love lemon, though we also use tea tree).
- Shut washing machine lid.
That’s it. No mixing goopy DIY laundry recipes (have I mentioned that most DIY laundry detergent recipes have borax which is not good for your health?), no toxic chemicals (see how baking soda check out here). Just clean laundry that doesn’t smell stinky. Or flowery. Or pine-in-the-woodsy (though a pine essential oil might smell nice).
Let me tell you a couple of things that have happened since I ditched laundry detergent.
- I use my DIY laundry detergent as dishwashing soap now (post coming on that).
- I can’t stand the smell of people because they use smelly flowery laundry soap + cologne/perfume + smelly shampoos.
- I can smell when someone in my neighborhood is doing their laundry and it makes me want to puke. Stinky smelly flowers.
- I save lots of money.
- I don’t get random eczema spots all over the places that my clothes cover.
It’s pretty amazing that baking soda and vinegar can be used as a great DIY laundry detergent and that there is no need for mixing beforehand. This saves me a lot of time and money!