Thursday, September 17, 2015

DIY eco-friendly products for laundry

I am really tired of the same old Seventh Generation and Ecos products. I am really big on having my laundry smell amazing for days after pulling it out if the dryer, and so far I have not been able to find any eco-friendly laundry products that would have a good variety of fresh-laundry smells that I would find attractive. I am tired as hell of Lavender and all the lavender variations. Not to mention that the smell just does not stay. I cannot smell the Magnolia and Lily even when I am smelling it out of the bottle. The smell is too subtle. My dry laundry smells like an old dryer.

So, looking for new options.


Although they may make your clothes feel soft and smell fresh, fabric softener and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products around. And chances are thatthe staggering 99.8 percent of Americans who use common commercial detergents, fabric softeners, bleaches, and stain removers would think twice if they knew they contained chemicals that could cause cancer and brain damage.
  • Benzyl acetate:Linked to pancreatic cancer
  • Benzyl Alcohol:Upper respiratory tract irritant
  • Ethanol:On the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
  • Limonene:Known carcinogen
  • A-Terpineol:Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
  • Ethyl Acetate:A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list
  • Camphor:Causes central nervous system disorders
  • Chloroform:Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
  • Linalool:A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
  • Pentane:A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled

So how could products with pretty names like Soft Ocean Mist, Summer Orchard and April Fresh be so dangerous?
The chemicals in fabric softeners are pungent and strong smelling -- so strong that they require the use of these heavy fragrances (think 50 times as much fragrance) just to cover up the smells. Furthermore, synthetic fabrics, which are the reason fabric softeners were created in the first place, do not smell good either when heated in a dryer or heated by our bodies ... hence the need for even more hefty fragrances.
In other words, remove all the added fragrance that endears people to fabric softeners and -- like the cliché wolf in sheep's clothing -- the real smells of the chemical-laced fabric softener and the synthetic fabrics they were designed around may prompt people to shoot their laundry machines and be done with it.
Fabric softeners are made to stay in your clothing for long periods of time. As such, chemicals are slowly released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb. Dryer sheets are particularly noxious because they are heated in the dryer and the chemicals are released through dryer vents and out into the environment. Health effects from being exposed to the chemicals in fabric softeners include:
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blood pressure reduction
  • Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract
  • Pancreatic cancer
Even if you don't feel the effects of these chemicals today, they can affect you gradually over time, and children, whose systems are still developing, are particularly at risk.There's really no reason to expose yourself to these risky chemicals when natural alternatives exist. Not only are they safer for you, your family and the environment, but they're much more economical too:
  • Learn about Static Eliminator, a 100% safe, non-toxic dryer sheet system that is more effective at softening clothes and eliminating static cling but poses no risk to you and your family! This is one of the most highly recommended of all products we have reviewed, and you will find it is also extremely economical, too!
  • Add a quarter cup of baking soda to wash cycle to soften fabric
  • Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to rinse to soften fabric and eliminate cling
  • Check out your local health food store for a natural fabric softener that uses a natural base like soy instead of chemicals


6 Natural Alternatives

The standard argument in favor of using fabric softeners is that the amount of the chemicals to which a person is exposed is insufficient to cause harm. Studies are showing that even small amounts of these toxins can have serious effects. So, think twice before you add that dryer sheet or liquid fabric softener to your laundry, particularly for children whose developing brains are more vulnerable to the effects of toxins.
According to the Allergy and Environmental Health Association, both liquid and dryer sheet fabric softeners are “the most toxic product produced for daily household use.” Most of the popular brands of fabric softeners contain many neurotoxins (substances that are toxic to the brain and nervous system) and other types of toxins.
So, you’re ready to forego commercial fabric softeners but you still want soft clothes. What are your options? Well, here are my 6 suggestions to detox your laundry:
1. Add a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the water in your washing machine and let it dissolve prior to adding your clothes. This is my preferred method since the baking soda acts as a water softener and helps makes clothes super soft.
2. Some people toss tennis balls or other rubber balls into the dryer with clothes. I’m not a huge fan of this method since the heat of the dryer can cause the rubber to off-gas onto your clothing. If you have an allergy to latex, this is definitely not the method for you. Plus, I wouldn’t choose this method if you’re drying delicate clothing items. Alternatively, try making your ownfelt wool dryer balls
3. Adding a cup of vinegar to the wash water can also soften clothes but I don’t find this method as effective as the baking soda technique.
4. To help with static, there’s the aluminum foil ball technique. Tightly scrunch a piece of foil to form a ball. Throw it in with clothes in the dryer. There is some possible concern with increasing your exposure to aluminum (which has been linked to some brain disorders). It can also snag delicate clothes.
5. Try to keep synthetic fabrics out of the dryer since they are the culprits when it comes to static. Natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen are best dried on their own.


Fabric Softener and Flammability

According to the Department of Chemistry at McGill University, studies have shown that when liquid fabric softener is added to the rinse cycle, certain fabrics become up to 7 times more flammable. The fabrics most at risk are flannel, terrycloth, and fleece (especially when made of cotton). They have a greater surface area (and therefore hold more fabric softener) due to their soft fluffy texture. Liquid fabric softener should never be used on these types of fabrics or on children's clothing, even if the fabric has been treated with flame retardants, because fabric softener reduces their effectiveness.


Safe Alternatives for Softening Clothes

Commercially-Made Brands
There are now dozens of eco-friendly fabric softeners and dryer sheets available. Here is a short list of some popular brands:
FS = fabric softener DS = dryer sheets
  • Method (FS)
  • Mountain Green (FS and DS)
  • Proctor and Gamble's Bounce-Free Fabric Sheets (releases biodegradable fabric softening agents. Contains no dyes or perfumes). (DS)
  • Seventh Generation (FS)

Do-It-Yourself Fabric Softeners
  • Baking Soda: Add a quarter cup of baking soda to wash cycle to soften fabrics.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar is a good non-toxic alternative to fabric softener. It softens fabrics and also helps prevent static cling. Use it on towels, diapers, and heavy fabrics like denim (avoid using it on delicates). Add 1/2 cup of white distilled vinegar to your rinse cycle.
  • Vegetable Glycerin: Some of the earliest fabric softeners were made of soaps and oils, so it's no surprise that vegetable glycerin works like a traditional fabric softener. Mix 1 cup of vegetable glycerin with 1 gallon of water, and add 1/2cup of the mixture to your rinse cycle.
Do-It Yourself Dryer Sheets
  • Aluminum Foil: Believe it or not, a crumpled up wad of aluminum foil in the dryer eliminates static cling.
  • Tennis Balls: While they won't reduce static cling, they will keep your sheets nice and fluffy.
  • Dry Bath Towel: Throw it in the dryer with your wet clothes and it will soften everything while they are drying.


Some excellent green laundry detergents to try include:
  • Ecover (800/449-4925,—Offers nontoxic powder and liquid detergents, as well as a detergent for delicates.
  • Natural Choices Home Safe Products (866/699-2667,—Sells Oxyprime, a nontoxic laundry detergent, and Allergy Free, a detergent for people with chemical sensitivities.
  • Sun & Earth (800/596-7233, ext. 11,—Offers a “Deep Cleaning Formula” laundry detergent.
  • Seventh Generation (802/658-3773,—Sells nontoxic liquid and powder laundry detergent, as well as Free and Clear fragrance-free laundry detergent and a detergent for baby clothes.
Conventional bleaches and fabric softeners have their problems, too. Conventional bleaches are made from chlorine, a known carcinogen according to the US Environmental Protection Agency. Fabric softeners contain chemicals that can cause allergic reactions. What’s a concerned consumer to do? Try these nontoxic alternatives:
For whitening:
  • Use a non-chlorine bleach, such as oxygen bleaches like Oxyboost, available from Natural Choices Home Safe Products. Also, Ecover offers two natural, chlorine-free bleaches, one made with hydrogen peroxide, and one with percarbonate.
  • Soak clothes overnight in a solution of one part hydrogen peroxide to eight parts cold water. Wash as normal.

So, what is in Seventh Generation dryer sheets?

Ingredients: Palm fatty acid (plant-derived softener), di-(palm carboxyethyl) hydroxyethyl methylammonium methyl sulfates (plant-derived softener).
Fragranced with plant-based essential oils and botanical extracts*
Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender: Eucalyptus dives, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, lavandula hybrida (lavandin) oil, pinus sylvestris (pine)..


What is in Eco's Laundry Detergent?

  • Magnolia & Lily - Water (CAS#7732-18-5), Cocamidopropyl Betaine (coconut-based surfactant, CAS#61789-40-0), Sodium Coco-Sulfate (coconut-based surfactant, CAS#68955-19-1), Cocamidopropylamine Oxide (coconut-based surfactant, CAS#68155-09-9), Phenoxyethanol (preservative, CAS#122-99-6), Fragrance, Methylisothiazolinone (preservative, CAS#2682-20-4), Equisetum Hiemale (Horsetail Plant) Extract (CAS#71001-23-9).
  • Neutral pH (7-8), rarely causes irritations in customers with skin sensitivities/allergies.
  • Non-polluting/100% biodegradable/non-toxic/natural.
  • Made of replenishable/sustainable ingredients
  • Plant-based surfactants we use do not harm the item being cleaned, your body or the environment
  • Color-safe: clothes do not discolor as easily as with other more alkaline detergents
  • Palm oil FREE

DIY fabric softner

How to Make a Simple & Naturally Scented Fabric Softener

Easy to make, low-cost, and totally customizable, these “crystals” will leave your laundry soft and smelling lovely. The baking soda added in will naturally make whites whiter, and pull out even the toughest stains. Being an alkaline substance (opposite of acidic) it can neutralize the acid in stains that come from various cleaners, urine, or vomit. It is also environmentally friendly and perfect for people who have sensitive skin. To top it off, it won’t harm fragile fabrics, and it is a brilliant odor remover in the sense that it actually gets rid of smells…it doesn’t mask them with perfumey scents like other fabric softeners do.
How to Make Homemade Fabric Softener- with natural ingredients & scents. You would be surprised at the toxic chemicals found in store-bought fabric softeners.
You will need…
-2 cups of Epsom salt or course sea salt
-20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil or blend of scents
-1/2 cup baking soda
-A container with a tightly fitting lid
-A marker
fabric softener ingredients
Mix together 2 cups of Epsom salt or course sea salt and add 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil-we used lemon for its bright, refreshing scent.
epsom salt
lemon essential oil
Stir in the essential oil before mixing in ½ cup of baking soda (alternately, you can leave out the baking soda, and add it separately, which works well.)
baking soda
After mixing together pour into a container with a tightly fitting lid and label it if you plan on making more with different scents. Use 2-3 tablespoons and toss in with your clothes before rinsing. If using the baking soda separately, add half a cup to each load.
natural softener
You can double this recipe if you’d like, and adjust the amount of essential oil if you want it to smell stronger/weaker.


Homemade Fabric Softener
  • 2 cups hair conditioner, pick a scent you like
  • 3 cups white vinegar
  • 6 cups hot water 
  • Essential Oil if desired
  1. Mix the water, vinegar & conditioner together. I used my big pitcher (easy to mix in and easy to pour into another container). Stir, don't shake... be patient, it might take a few minutes to smooth it out.
  2. Add some drops of essential oil if you desire (I love to add Purify and Ongaurd)
  3. Use a funnel and pour it into your old fabric softener dispenser.

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