Spending countless hours in the laundry every week is a chore, it’s NOT something I enjoy doing. But it’s a necessary task on the all too familiar to-do-list. The only satisfaction is the feeling of success if I manage to clear the laundry pile that week. I literally spend hours washing, drying, folding and putting away our clothes and linen for the week ahead. I have to tackle everything from the school uniforms to washing horse rugs!
I know I am not alone on this one.
The scary thing is the laundry is one of the biggest hosts of chemicals in our homes!
Think about it – things go to the laundry to get clean, but what do we most commonly use to clean things? That’s right, unnecessarily harsh chemicals. Have you ever stopped to consider what’s in the products you purchase to “clean” your clothes? What are you exposing yourself to on a daily and weekly basis?
It’s time to consider what might be happening.
Most commercial laundry detergents, softeners and stain removers are packed with chemicals, including petroleum distillates, phosphates, artificial brighteners, fragrances and even palm oil.
Not only are these chemicals bad for our health, but they’re also bad for the planet, so much of what we use in the laundry makes its way into our waterways. We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, but we also have an obligation to what we are contributing to the environment.
Another negative impact our laundries can have on our health is by acting as a breeding ground for mould, fungi, and harmful bacteria.
Did you know that around 75% of homes contain too much moisture?
The large chunk of that moisture is coming from our laundries. It seems that being energy conscious and NOT using the dryer instead choosing to hang wet washing in the laundry to air dry is contributing as much as 2 litres of moisture into our homes, making up a third of the overall moisture problem.
The issue here is it creates an ideal breeding ground for nasty mould, fungi, and harmful bacteria.
If you can, hang as much washing outside to dry if that’s not an option make sure your laundry and home are well ventilated even in the cold winter months.
Drying clothes is one thing, time to talk about the issue of cleaning products we are using to clean our clothes.
NATURAL ALTERNATIVES IN THE LAUNDRY
The good news is, there are natural, organic alternatives to laundry detergent available widely these days. Soap nuts (sometimes called soapberries) are a naturally grown nut that releases a lather when you wash them.
Soapberries are the dried shell of the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree is exceptionally high in ‘saponin’ which is nature’s soap. Soapberries cost around 10c per wash load for a 1kg bag. Compared to conventional washing powders, they can save you a great deal over the course of a year. They are hypoallergenic. Perfect for those with sensitive skin or allergies and they are anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and odorless.
You only use several at a time, making them very cost-effective, and they can provide a great clean. I love them. I purchase them with essential oils and not only do they work wonders on everyday loads of socks and underwear they leave the laundry smelling fabulous!
It might take a little trial and error to find the right match for you, but I would recommend starting at your local wholefoods place, or online retailer for eco-products and go from there. There alternatives for everything! Bleach, washing powders, soaking agents, wool wash. You name it there is an alternative. Check out https://www.biome.com.au/ they are a wonderful Australian site that offers an incredible range, I purchase my soapberries from there.
Perhaps you want to know exactly what is going into your cleaning products. The best way to know this is to make your own. I also love doing this. You can get the kids involved, and it will save you so much money in the long run.
I’ve shared three of the recipes I like to use in the course resources, but there are loads of different ones available online. Yes, it does mean putting aside time to make the powder, but if you do it in bulk, it can easily become part of your monthly routine.
It’s also a good idea to ditch the plastic laundry basket, opt for natural weaved baskets and when your pegs need changing move to stainless steel ones. Small changes like these will eradicate another source of chemicals from your home.
When I mention this topic to people, they are usually shocked. Because it occurs outside the home, it’s out of sight out of mind. But it’s something you MUST consider.
First thing you need to know is the principal ingredient used in typical dry-cleaning is called Perchloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, PCE or PERC. Let’s just say it’s one nasty chemical. PERC is listed as a carcinogen, and long-term exposure to it may cause adverse side effects.
PERC is a colourless, non-flammable liquid with a sweet, ether-like odour. You can smell it when you entre most Drycleaners.
Dr. Peter Orris, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health says it’s a ‘multi-system toxin’ affecting fertility, skin, eye, nose, throat and bladder. Even though the studies are based on long term exposure if it’s this harmful, I certainly don’t want it in my home. At a minimum, if you choose to dry clean some items allow them to air outside for 2-3 days. Or find yourself a green dry cleaner, more and more are popping up in cities across Australia. Using healthier alternatives and providing consumers with more options.
I purchased a steam cleaner from an electrical appliance store and now steam my own clothes. You can also spot clean for stain removing, hand wash where possible and deodorising by just putting in the freezer overnight. Seriously, I learnt this tip from watching Ellen; it works, I promise!
BUT I’M BUSY!
I know, right. We all are. Life gets busier every year. Don’t let a lack of time become the barrier between you and a healthier, happier, chemical-free house.
You don’t have to make your own washing powder or track down soap nuts to make the switch in the laundry.
There are so many fantastic organic, chemical-free laundry options available on the market now, and many are even in the major supermarket retailers.
Some good brands in major supermarkets include Abode, or the Earth Choice line of products.
Change is only as good as how long it’s maintained, so choose the pathway forward that is most likely to work for you!
Simple changes make a significant difference!
Here are some of my favourite homemade recipes click to open: