Did you know that simply by doing laundry, you are polluting your indoor air? Because your laundry products have harmful ingredients, and your laundry room may be poorly ventilated, that clean laundry smell comes at a price.
What’s Lurking In Your Laundry Detergents & Softeners?
So, what’s in your laundry detergents and softeners?
According to a University of Washington study on air contaminants from consumer goods, between 18 and 20 chemicals were detected in four laundry products – including likely carcinogens, developmental toxins, and allergens.
It’s a troubling thought, isn’t it? Doing laundry pollutes your air.
Relax though because you can clean your laundry without dirtying your air.
Here are six steps to cleaner laundry and indoor air:
1. Try vinegar instead of fabric softener
Instead of liquid fabric softener add 1/2 cup white vinegar to your laundry final rinse. Many washers have a special rinse cycle setting that you can use.
2. Ditch your dryer sheets
Ditch the dryer sheets that release harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in favor of less toxic alternatives. Dryer sheet chemicals adhere to your laundry AND are released into the air.
See what you think of these alternatives:
- Wool dryer balls – You can either make your own or buy them. These 100% wool dryer balls naturally soften your laundry in the dryer. If you like scented laundry, use a drop or two of your favorite essential oil like lavender on the dryer balls. The only downside to using the balls is the noise which, not surprisingly, sounds like you put several tennis balls into your dryer.
- Feeling crafty? Check out this YouTube video on how to make your own dryer balls. It’s not a bad project. Don’t buy the washable wool because it won’t work right. YouTube has lots of videos on how to make dryer balls, but the three-minute version should tell you what you need to know.
- To buy wool dryer balls, go to Amazon.com where you can get a set of six for around $20. They are reusable and last a while.
- Use a fabric swatch and add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil. While this will not soften your clothes, it will add a pleasant scent, and will be quieter than the dryer balls.
3. Opt for a “clean” laundry detergent
Try a laundry detergent that is healthier for you and the environment. These are highly rated and tested:
- Green Shield Organic Laundry Detergent – Free & Clear Regular & HE
- Biokleen – Laundry Liquid – Free & Clear or Citrus Essence
- Ecover – Zero Laundry Liquid Concentrate
4. Make your own laundry detergent
You can always make your own laundry detergent. Here’s a recipe for an easy and clean detergent.
- 1 bar (4 oz) Castile Soap finely grated
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Washing Soda
- Mix and use 1/4 cup per load
- A note about Borax: some people have concerns about Borax causing skin irritation, but it IS safe to use. It’s true that if you do hand wash with Borax, it may irritate your skin. This effect is due to Borax changing the water’s pH, so as long as you are not doing hand laundry, Borax can be used without harming your skin or releasing harmful VOCs. With it, your laundry will be bright and clean.
5. Ventilate your laundry room
Do your best to improve ventilation in your laundry room. Hot water causes the water disinfectant pollutants to vaporize creating significant VOCs.
How does this happen?
Your city water contains disinfectants to keep your water safe, and when these disinfectants are heated and sprayed into droplets, they can easily vaporize. This happens in the shower, bath, dishwasher and laundry primarily. Whole house water filtration systems do not remove these disinfectants, so your best bet is to use cooler water and/or ventilate your laundry room well.
6. Leave the door open
Always prop open the washing machine lid to allow the inside to dry out to prevent mildew growth.
So how do you clean your laundry without dirtying your air?
Get the shopping list of laundry and cleaning products that you can trust. You’ll find kitchen, bathroom, all purpose, glass and laundry cleaners and detergents in a handy shopping list format.