Cristen Conger, a web columnist with the Learning Channel (TLC) warns the average consumer to be weary of supposedly ‘green cleaning products’. These products are not so green after all: “[m]anufacturers have no legal obligation to list the ingredients in their entirety..” . That being said your home laundry detergent may pack an unintended punch that is effecting more than just your coffee stains.
It’s not the wild west, but many laundry detergents contain harmful chemicals such as: “ammonia, ethanol, napthalene and phenol,” according to the Guide to Less Toxic Products. Even using normal household bleach should be avoided like wearing socks with sandals. Chorline Bleach, according to green guru Gillian Deacon isn’t worth the hassle and or the sickening side-effects of being: “an eye, skin and respiratory irritant, and a possible neurotoxin” (Gillian Deacon, Green for Life 45).
So what is a person to do? Well, first of all ditch the chlorine bleach and opt for non-chlorine bleach, or even better go for an environmentalists’ tried and true solution of adding 1/2 cup of baking soda or vinegar to your wash. Washing your clothing with vinegar or baking soda will cut unwanted smells and whiten your clothing naturally (Gillian Deacon, Green for Life 42). Also I was about to recommend Borax (sodium borate decahyrdrate) but as I have just discovered; just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is healthy for you. Remember asbestos?
According to Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine, in her article How Does Borax Clean? [Google it for more information]. The same components of this chemical compound that cause it to scrub, lift stains and deodorizers your clothes can also hurt you if used in excess. Borax can even kill you if ingested. Dr. Helmenstine continues by listing some of the other common side effects from frequent usage of borax: “skin, eye, or respiratory irritation,” in addition to this she indicates that it might cause infertility. So use Borax in the future at your own discretion.
Next according to both Gillian Deacon and Ed Begley Jr. cut the hot water in place of cold water. They also recommend only washing full loads of clothing to cut energy consumption. Begley Jr. states that Energy Star certified dryers have yet to be invented, so just hang your clothes to dry for that minty fresh outdoor smell (Ed Begley Jr.,Living Like Ed, 30). But if you must use the dryer because you live in Ontario and it is the dead of winter, you can cut the static cling without the use of single use dryer sheets. You can do this according by crumpling up tin foil into a ball and throwing it into your dryer (Green for Life, Gillian Deacon. 42).
Lastly I was really intrigued by the film No Impact Man, where author and activist Colin Beavan tries to make his family go waste and carbon neutral for a whole year (see the link here: http://www.noimpactdoc.com/index_m.php for more information). In onse scene he used Borax and water in his tub to clean his clothing. I gave it a whirl and I found it to be really fun, it was kind of like a staycation.
Instead of being at an Italian vineyard stomping on grapes to make a pinot gris, I was stomping on my clothes to get them clean at home. Afterwards I had to wring out the excess water and hang dry it outside. Another misconception is that you need a lot of space to line or hang dry your clothes; not so. Just be creative. Trying improvising your own line drying system outside or by purchasing or building a drying rack yourself.
For more information about greening your laundry please visit:
Any thoughts, how do you clean your clothes?
“The author doing his best impression of Colin Beavan, No Impact Man. In this photo I am washing my clothes in the tub, to be hung dry later on outside. It turned out pretty well”. -Stafford
“Close pins are essential if line drying clothing outside, they will prevent your clothing from blowing away. If you are using an indoor/outdoor drying rack they are not absolutely necessary.” -Stafford
“These static cling reduction balls can be purchased from any grocery store, they will eliminate the need to purchase single use and scented dryer sheets.” -Stafford
“This particular brand of liquid detergent is designed so that more is less. But as a rule of thumb don’t use excess detergent, as recommended on the bottle. Remember that baking soda can be used to complement detergent usage according to Gillian Deacon.” -Stafford
“Often you do not need to construct a massive line drying set-up; simply utilize what space and tools you have. The yellow cord came from the shed. Also if possible try to face your clothing southward to catch the most amount of sunlight thereby speeding up the drying process.” -Stafford
“Drying racks can often be purchased at a modest expense, this rack was purchased at Zellers, a Canadian version of Target. Also if you are a tradespersons or just handy, try building your own drying rack.”- Stafford