Sunday, May 6, 2012

Green and Frugal tips for the Laundry Room

Two weeks ago we looked at ways to go green and save some money in the bathroom.  This week we are headed into the laundry room.  If you take a look in the average laundry room you will find lot of chemicals which lots of money was spent on.  Now I know people want to look nice and take good care of the clothes they have, but really you don't need to break the bank to do so.

So lets start in the most obvious place.

Laundry Detergent - Something we all use.  I took a stroll down the laundry aisle in the store the other day and couldn't believe all the choice out there or the prices they charge.  (I haven't bought laundry products in years.) So what's in all these commercial laundry detergent?  Sometime it feels as if one needs to have a chemistry degree to figure it out.  Lets take a look as some of the most common ingredients.  Benzene which can also be called benzol, benzeen, phenly hydride or annulene is a mixture of coal and petroleum.  It is a known carcinogen.  Another carcinogen found in laundry products is diethanolamines, these are man-made compounds that neutralize acids.  They are included in laundry detergent to make them less irritating.  Many laundry detergents also contain ammonia, a know irritant of the skin, eyes, and respiratory system.  And on top of how bad these ingredients are for you and your family, they are also wrecking havoc on our environment.  So what's the answer?  Make your own.  Really it's simple, effective and costs pennies.  Here's the recipe we have been using for year.  The only change I have made is to use my homemade soap.  And here is a recipe for powdered detergent.  And yes this really works.  I have washed cloth diapers, hubby's grimy and greasy work clothes, and sweaty athletic wear all with great results.

Fabric Softener - I'll be honest I have never used a commercial fabric softener.  Never really saw the point.  And after researching what's in them, I'm glad I've never exposed my family.  Lets start off with three of the main ingredients, toluene, trimethylbenzene, styrene.  All three are known neurotoxins.  And if this isn't bad enough.  The ingredient list continues with 

  • a-terpineol which is know to irritate the mucous membraines
  • benzyl acetate which is an eye and respiratory irritant
  • camphor which is on the EPA's hazardous waste list
  • pentane a sink irritant
And to make matters worse, fabric softeners are formulated to stay on the fabric.  So all of these lovey chemicals aren't being rinsed away, but are hanging out waiting to rub up next to your family's skin.  So what's one to do?  A simple, frugal and green alternative is to add plain white vinegar in the rinse cycle of your laundry machine.  And if hanging around to catch the rinse cycle is a pain, I think it is, then put the vinegar in a downy ball and toss it in at the beginning.

Dryer Sheets - These are really fabric softeners that are used in the dyer  and the ingredient lists looks similar to the one above.  Once again there are some simple and frugal solutions.  The first one is hang your clothes to dry.  Not only with you avoid the chemicals you will save on electricity, get some exercise, use the power of the sun to whiten your white (works great on diapers) and have a natural spring time fresh scent to your clothes.  Now I know that not everyone can hang there clothes for numerous, but you're still in luck.  Wool dryer balls are a fabulous solution for static in the dryer.  They also add softness and scent if you wish.  You can make your own dryer balls or they are inexpensive to purchase.  To make your own you can use some wool yarn which you wind into balls and then felt in your washer.  (felting is what happens to wool when it is washed and dried - you know how that wool sweater that accidentally found its way into the washer and dryer shrunk up to doll size) or you can use wool roving and wet felt balls.  Your balls should be about the size of  tennis balls.  I use about three in the dryer.  You can sprinkle a few drops of your favorite essential oil on the balls to infuse your laundry with a soft scent.  And as a side benefit wool is anti-bacterial. I have also found that using wool dryer balls reduces the time it takes for the laundry to dry!  Bonus!

Oxiclean - As laundry product go this may be one of the safer ones.  It is a mixture of solid hydrogen peroxide (peroxyhdrated caronate soda) and washing soda.  When it comes in contact with water it releases oxygen.  The concern are the solvent which we have seen above aren't all they great for you or the environment.  Luckily there is a simple solution.  Make your own.  In a clean spray bottle mix 1 Tbsp washing soda with one cup of peroxide.  Shake and let sit for 24 hours.  Shake before use.  That's it.  

Stain Remover -  Ok here is where I ran into trouble finding the ingredients.  Shout lists two patented  ingredients as there cleaning agents, but then you can't find anything else out about them.  Hmmm, makes me wonder.  Spray n Wash was just as elusive.  If I can't figure out what is in something then I really don't feel safe using it, that's just me.  So my solution?  Use the homemade oxiclean, rub a little castle soap or homemade laundry soap into the stain.  You might also try this soap jelly.  For oil stains try sprinkling a little corn starch on them to absorb the oil, let it sit for 15 minutes before brushing off.  Treat the stain with a little laundry soap and wash as usual.  Always check to see if the stain came out before you dry the garment as drying will set the stain.

Interestingly enough, many of the commercial products carry warning to use in ventilated places, avoid prolongs contact with skin.  I don't know about you but my clothes touch my skin for long periods of time and my laundry room is small and not well ventilated.  So I guess I will just pass on all the big name laundry products and stick to making my own, saving my family's health and money.

As I have mentioned before, the best way to make changes is to slowly add them to your routine.  Nothing will set you up for failure as quickly as trying to change your whole routine at once.  So take it slowly.  Choose one commercial item to replace with a homemade alternative.  Get used to making and using that one and them move on to the next.  A simple way to do this is to make a batch the next time you run out of something instead of buying it again.  Most of these recipes last a long time, so you wont be making them each time you need to do a load of laundry.  Think more like once every month or two or even more.  It really is doable.  I know you can.  Just remember slow and steady.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on laundry.  What are your tips?  What have you tried?  Are you having successes or do you need a little encouragement?  Leave a comment, I love getting to know my readers better and they make me smile!

Oh and don't forget there is still time to enter to win the Quart of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil.

I'm linking this post up over at the Homestead Barn Hop, Make Your Own MondayMake Your Move Monday, and Living Green Link-up!


  1. Thanks so much for linking up to Make a Move Monday. I have really enjoyed looking around your blog! (I am the oldest of three girls so that is fun for me!) I hope to see you again on Monday. God bless!

  2. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures' Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Check back later tonight when the new link-up is running to see if you were one of the top 3 featured posts! :)

  3. I just made the oxyclean. I am so excited! I sprayed down my entire load of boys laundry!
    This recipe is so simple!

  4. Once again I really love the oxiclean! Today I made up a triple batch for me and one for a friend.

  5. found you by way of Monday Homestead Revival Barn Hop Can't wait to try the oxyclean. Thanks!


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