Developing eco-laundry habits isn’t as tough as you think it is

Laundry might be one area of home life that seems the most difficult to “green.” You don’t want to compromise the results of the process, but you want to lessen the impact on the environment.

Traditional detergents are super heavy on the chemicals. I remember reading a book when I was younger, in which a character was murdered and his face unrecognizable because it had been stuck in a tub of detergent for several hours. Truth or not, it makes you think about just what is it in the slow moving liquid.

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Image credit: Flickr user cafemama

If you are interested in the chemistry of detergents and surfactants, check out this webpage. The chemicals in detergent become pollutants when they enter the water system and can affect the soil and environment that they end up settling in.

The Environmental Protection Agency has the Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative. Through this program, they recognize companies who are dedicated to using safer surfactants that break down quickly to non-polluting compounds and help protect aquatic life in both fresh and salt water. Several brands that you would expect to be on their list that make environmentally friendly detergents are Method, Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation. Their webpage includes many other such as several chemical companies, Dial, S.C. Johnson and Son, and others.

This blog entry from Green Living Ideas gives tips on making your laundry day more environmentally friendly. Here are some that I think are particularly helpful:

•” Just add salt. Adding just a couple of teaspoons of table salt with your detergent, can make your clothes brighter. If you add a half a cup of salt it will prevent colors from running. To get out yellow stains in white clothing soak them for about an hour in a mixture of boiled water, a tablespoon of salt and a quarter cup of baking soda. Check out how stuff works for more uses for salt with your laundry.
• Baking soda added to detergent, cleans, deodorizes clothes and makes them brighter.
• Turn your clothing inside out in the washer and dryer. This prevents the outside from getting worn out.
• Switch to cold water wash. Doing so not only saves energy but using cold water prevents colors from bleeding or fading which it tends to do with hot or warm water.
• Make sure to button and zipper up your clothes. This prevents snags that could ruin your clothes after several washes.”

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