If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know about the harsh chemicals and detergents in mainstream cleaning products. Chlorine bleach and ammonia are the most well known, but the list is long and filled with toxins particularly hard on the lungs. Happily, there are a lot of resources already available to find eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaners. The Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning is among the best. Additionally, a few eco-friendly brands have moved beyond the health food store and into the mainstream. Big grocery and department store chains are now carrying brands like Biokleen and Seventh Generation.
With all this information already out there, I thought I’d bring you some personal tips on cleaner effectiveness (it’s great that it’s eco, but does it actually work?), as well as a few tricks I’ve put together over the years.
Biokleen Sport Liquid Laundry detergent is my personal favorite. While it’s designed to get sweat smells out of sport clothing, I end up using it for everything. It makes all my clothes smell great and cleans very well. It’s also reasonably priced compared to some other natural brands.
Eucalan No Rinse Delicate Wash, which we sell at FaeriesDance.com, is absolutely
amazing for hand or gentle machine washing delicates. The Jasmine scent is intoxicating. It smells so good, I’ve tried using it for the regular wash, but it just gets overwhelmed by the rinse cycle. Though I have added a capful to the fabric softener tray when I’m out of lavender bags.
Use lavender bags in the dryer instead of dryer sheets and fabric softener. This is a great tip that can be very cheap if you take a few minutes to put them together yourself.
- Buy a bulk lot of small, cotton muslin drawstring bags. You can get them at craft stores or on eBay.
- Buy a large bag of bulk lavender flowers, again on eBay or Amazon or at a craft store or apothecary.
- Fill the muslin bag with lavender flowers until it’s stuffed.
- Add a cotton ball at the top to avoid having any spill out.
- Make a double knot at the top.
That’s it! Add one lavender bag to the dryer and your clothes will come out smelling awesome! Each bag lasts about 4-5 loads in the dryer, though the first one is always the strongest. I try to put a new one in with my sheets because I love the strong lavender scent on the sheets when I go to bed.
You can also untie your knot and reuse the muslin bag over and over again. Use the remnant lavender flowers in craft projects, your composter or sprinkle them directly on the lawn. There’s no reason to throw them away.
There are a number of products out today that use a hydrogen peroxide base bleaching agent to clean and brighten without the use of chlorine. I have personally tried Earth Friendly Products Oxo Bright and Biokleen Oxygen Bleach Plus. I have not noticed a significant difference between the two brands, and generally buy the cheapest.
Advantages of oxygen bleach:
- Brightens whites
- Completely safe and non-toxic
- Readily available in stores, and inexpensive
Disadvantages of oxygen bleach:
- Doesn’t seem to work well in cold water washes
- Requires a bit of effort as a stain remover
As a stain remover for white clothes, just putting oxygen bleach in the machine doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. For the best results, make a paste with your powdered oxygen bleach and hot water. Gently rub your paste directly onto your stain. Let it sit for a few minutes before putting the item in the wash to allow it to really soak in.
Finally, the very best thing you can do to green your laundry is to do it less. Laundry uses a lot of water and energy. Here are a few guidelines.
- While you should wash undergarments after every wash, jeans and sweatshirts can often be worn a few times before washing.
- Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. (I wash almost everything in cold except whites and workout/running clothes.)
- Do laundry at night and on weekends when power usage tends to be lower.
- Hang dry clothes if you can.
- If you live in a rainy area or just don’t have the time to hang dry, set your dryer to a low heat setting to save energy and make sure the lint screen is cleaned after each dry, as that can also effect drying time.
- If you’re in the market for a new washer, check the energy star rating and choose one that is both energy and water efficient. Most front-load washers use much less water than top-load varieties.