Thursday, May 17, 2012

Much Ado About Laundry Detergent

Growing up, we were a household that did not use scents.  Amongst our many scent free products, was our "Pure" and "Natural" laundry detergents.  But what I have learned is that most things labeled "pure" and "natural" are not pure or natural at all.  Why?  Because companies lie and they also omit.

1, 4 Dioxane for one, is a chemical found is many commercial laundry detergents, as shown by these studies. 1, 4 Dioxane is NOT found on ingredient labels.

I began my research on detergent when I was looking for a safe detergent that could successfully remove the urine scent from my little one's pjs.  (When he began sleeping 12 hours a night, he also began waking up with a very wet diaper).

What I found didn't exactly shock or astonish me, because chemicals are just that... chemicals.  So where I did believe what I found, I was also a little bit sickened.

I started researching detergents people use on cloth diapers - this must work, right? And I began to think about detoxing.  Eventually I detoxed my shampoo, soap, deodorant, makeup and toothpaste.  But more on this later.

It began with laundry soap.  I chose Charlie's Soaps for washing and Ecover for stain removal.  What I found that not only were our clothes softer, I found that my skin has gotten better.  Several months ago, my doctor had diagnosed me with a chronic case of pityriasis rosea.  I had a referral to go to a dermatologist but never filled it.  What I did was make an important change.  I was sensitive to chemicals and after a few months, my skin was and still remains clear.

So does the natural stuff work?  In a word, yes! Our clothes are clean and softer than they have ever been before, with the added bonus of the liquid being biodegradable - it's good for the Earth as well. 

Now what to do if you are an apartment dweller and stuck going to the laundromat?  Well, the one thing Charlie's recommends when switching to a natural detergent is running a few loads of rags first to clean out all of those nasty toxins left behind in your machine.  Well, you can't exactly do this at a laundromat, so we do what our local laundromat propriotor told us while I was pregnant.  Always wash a load of your clothes first (preferably towels) in the washer you will use for you baby's clothes.  Why? Because your stuff will absorb someof the residue left in there (and let's face it - better rub it off on us first instead of our little one!), especially if someone used that washer to wash a dog blanket or a pair of nasty sneakers.  Or in my case, some stinky toxic detergent.

Now, I don't know how much of the bad detergent is getting into our clothes, but this is how we do our laundry. Our clothes or towels first, then our little guy's.  What I can attest to is the improvements we saw.  Now if only we had our OWN washer!

For more on the toxins mentioned here and children's safety, please visit The Mount Sinai's Children's Environmental Health Center.

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