Natural Laundry, Soapnuts, Shikakai

So your clothes have a great fragrance? And that makes you believe your clothes are clean because they smell clean?

Wait! Have you ever thought about what goes into making these laundry and cleaning agents? This article attempts to shed some light on that.

There are a number of chemicals used to produce these detergents. You do not see them on the label for obvious reasons. These chemicals can affect not only your personal health but also public and environmental health. They can go into the air, down the drain and into water bodies.

Let’s look at some of the major claims that these brands claim on their products and how they are achieved.

Retains shine :

How does clothes shine and be bright after washing? What’s creating all this brightness? These are chemicals that actually remain on the clothes to absorb UV light and help clothes “appear” brighter. Chemicals like naphthotriazolystilbenes (linked with developmental and reproductive effects), benzoxazolyl, diaminostilbene disulfonate, and more. Since these remain on the clothes, they are likely to come into contact with skin.

Removes stains & Colour protection :

Bleaching agents like sodium hypochloriteand Sodium percarbonateare used as a bleaching agents. They are known to irritate skin, eyes, and lungs, and when mixed with wastewater, it can form toxic organic compounds that have been linked with respiratory issues, liver, and kidney damage.

Fresh Fragrance :

All we need is clean clothes with no dirt and bad odour. But since many years, powerful brands through their advertisements made us believe “clean” also means good smell. Now, we all want our clothes to smell according to our likings. So, how do you think brands achieve this? By mixing with chemicals that give the particular odour that we want. Chemicals like acetaldehyde and benzene, which are known carcinogens are used.

Good for Hard water :

Manufacturers use phosphates to make detergents more effective in hard water, and to help prevent dirt from settling back on clothes when they’re washing. These chemicals have long been associated with environmental damage, particularly in our streams and waterways. They cause algae blooms that damage ecosystems. Many detergents have eliminated these, but they’re often using ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid (EDTA) in its place, which does not readily biodegrade, and has been found to be toxic in animal studies.

Stabilisers :

They help stabilize the formula, so that it lasts longer on the shelf. Examples include polyalkylene oxide or ethylene oxide, which are linked with eye and lung irritation, and even dermatitis.

After knowing all this, you might ask “What are the alternatives? How do I make sure my family’s laundry is clean and germ-free, without using these chemical laden detergents.

Make your own detergent :

It’s that simple! All you need is a little washing soda, borax, essential oil for fragrance and unscented bar soap. You can find several YouTube videos online for preparation.

Skip the fabric softener :

A half-cup of vinegar added in the rinse cycle will produce the same results without the toxic chemicals.

Naturally remove stains :

Instead of using chemical-laden stain removers, simply pre-treat your stain with a combination of washing soda, baking soda, and water.

Naturally  brighten :

A little baking soda added to the wash cycle will naturally brighten colours, without the clingy chemicals that irritate your skin.

Buy the safest you can :

Look for the safer options out there made with natural ingredients like Coconut oil, Lye, essential oils and Soap nuts. The Eco Store has a range of laundry detergent powders & liquids that are free from chemicals & suitable for regular use.