Airing dirty laundry

Can you guess what today’s post is about? I like to use related phrases as titles for each post, but today’s post is about exactly what it says, dirty laundry.

Shouldn't all laundry rooms be this pretty? Image courtesy of Canadian House & Home

I have this idea that many of you have gone through what I have gone through when it comes to buying laundry supplies at the grocery store. I have bought the same brand of detergent for years, without even thinking about it. I noticed “greener” and “eco-friendly” soaps appear over the past decade, but I thought, “It’s soap! How toxic can soap really be?!”

Turns out, I was really wrong.

I’m not gonna blast any specific products by name, but I did want to share some info I found about common laundry detergent ingredients. I figure (and I’m guessing that this is exactly what the big soap companies don’t want us to do) that we are all capable of reading our own bottles ourselves and comparing info once we know what all the chemical words mean. Take a look at this little list:

  • Phosphates: When these chemicals are released into our natural water systems (lakes, rivers, etc.), they cause algae to have huge growth blooms which deplete the oxygen from the water. This suffocates fish and plant life and can unbalance an ecosystem very severely. Europe is banning all phosphates in domestic products beginning in 2013.
  • Petroleum distillates (aka napthas): If you Google “Petroleum distillates”, the first link that pops up is Wikipedia’s entry for “Oil refinery”. That’s who you’re giving money to with every purchase. In case that’s not enough, some of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, lung damage, lung inflammation and damage to mucous membranes. All in the name of clean towels.

    Image courtesy of Wikipedia

  • Sodium hypochlorite (household bleach): Bleach can’t be bad. People have used it for over a century, right? Did you know that bleach is involved in more household poisonings than any other chemical? Let bleach loose with organic compounds and it also creates carcinogens, which can cause reproductive and immune system disorders. Just how bright do our gym socks really need to be?
  • EDTA (ethylene-diamino-tetra-acetate): EDTA is often used as an alternative to phosphates. It reduces mineral hardness in water and allows machinery to run more smoothly in hard water exposure. EDTA can also dissolve toxic heavy metals in the environment, allowing them to re-enter the food chain. Even more scary: you can find it in many food products.

I could go on with a longer list here, but I think you must already be thinking the same things I was: “I put this stuff in the clothing I wear against my skin?!”

Now, I don’t like to bring up a big household problem without trying to contribute a realistic solution or idea. By now you have probably figured out that this is a Greener Living series post, which you can read all about right here.  Here’s how we solved this problem at our house:

We now use Seventh Generation products for our laundry. I am not sponsored by Seventh Generation to say pretty things about their products. I only ever recommend products I actually use because I like to be honest about my experiences.

When I was looking for a new laundry soap (after I freaked out and threw out all of the food with EDTA in it from our pantry), I was also looking for a good value of price in eco-friendly soap. Seemed like an impossible combo, but Seventh Generation, which I buy at Target, fit the bill.

I also like that they translate all of the ingredients on the product labels for easy identification.

Do you know where Seventh Generation gets its name from?

In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations. – From the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

I like that idea as a company mission statement. Seventh Generation has a lot of household products available, but I haven’t tried them all. You can browse their full line of products and sign up for some coupons by clicking the link in the picture below.

Bonus tip: If you’ve read this far in the post, I’ll let you in on a secret: Be sure to visit tomorrow’s post for a chance at a great Greener Living giveaway!

Want more Greener Living ideas? Visit this page for a complete listing of products and solutions from previous posts.

Have you used Seventh Generation products before? Do you have another planet-friendly laundry soap you’d like to recommend? Share your ideas and solutions by leaving a comment!

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Posted on June 15, 2011, in Green Living. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. These look like great products and I’m interested to read more Greener Living posts for good tips. I’m looking forward to the giveaway tomorrow!

  2. I use (and love) dropps. Super concentrated, preportioned and no heavy plastic jug.

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