5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Homemade Laundry Detergent
My goal of this heading isn’t to give you an exact recipe, but to break down the common ingredients in homemade laundry soaps.
Most homemade laundry ‘detergents’ are made up of water softeners like baking soda, washing soda, and borax and a cleaning agent which is typically a grated bar of soap.
The goal of the water softener is to… you guessed it! Soften the water. You might have heard the terms hard water and soft water which has to do with the level of minerals like calcium and magnesium in the water.
The most common water softeners used in homemade laundry soap
borax and washing soda, but they’re marketed as laundry BOOSTERS because they are meant to aid a detergent not replace one.
If you have really hard water, like I do in California, using a homemade laundry soap is even worse because the high levels of calcium and magnesium make it almost impossible for the soap to wash free from the textiles.
While the laundry boosters help some, its not an appropriate replacement for detergent.
DIY laundry ‘detergent’ can RUIN your clothing:
When you’re using homemade laundry soap you can ruin your clothing. I know this from personal experience, but lets take a little bit deeper look into why.
If you use soap on your hands in the kitchen or bathroom sink you’ve probably had to deal with soap
build up or soap scum.
That’s happening to your clothes, and worse… your washing machine which we’ll address in the next heading.
Every time you wash your clothing soap build up buries itself inside of the textiles. This build up can create a water repelling effect which might be why your reusable towels aren’t super great at absorbing water, but can also leave an oily residue behind.
When soap accumulates in your clothing it will actually attract and trap dirt in your textiles. It quite literally makes your clothing DIRTY the exact opposite thing you want from a laundry detergent…
How Does Laundry Detergent Affect the Environment?
When we dump a capful of concentrated cleaning detergent into our laundry machine, we don’t really think much of it, especially not in an environmental sense. After all, as far as most of us are concerned, something as common and innocuous as laundry detergent couldn’t possibly be bad for the planet. Some brands even make a point to say so! Unfortunately, like so many man-made chemical inventions, detergent is far from completely harmless.
What are laundry detergents made from?
Detergents are hardly naturally occurring. Most of the most popular commercial brands are manufactured using synthetic chemical compounds. This makes them very different from soap, which is made from natural substances like lye and plant saponins. This makes sense, of course, as soap goes directly on the skin; laundry detergent
Instead, laundry detergent is added to dirty laundry, where it does its job “lifting stains” and “preserving colors” before getting washed out, diluted, and sent down the drain with the wastewater from your washing machine. Unfortunately, the chemicals in these detergents can have a far-reaching environmental impact.
What are the environmental effects of detergents?
Detergents can contain several chemical compounds that have negative environmental effects. Phosphate-containing laundry or dish detergents can react adversely when they finally reach the water table. The nitrogen in these detergents reacts with phosphorus in the water, creating nutrients that stimulate the growth of algae in freshwater. According to Lenntech, a company from the Netherlands, this type of algae uses up the oxygen in the water in a process called eutrophication. Over time, this slowly depletes the oxygen in a body of water, ruining the ecosystem.
Other detergents contain surfactants, or surface-active agents, which are chemicals that reduce the surface tension of oil and water. For the detergent, these surfactants help dirt to “lift off” and stay out of clothing. The problem is, they also happen to be highly toxic to aquatic life. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), surfactants break down the mucus layer that coats fish, protecting them from parasites and bacteria.
They also reduce the surface tension of water, making it easier for waterways to absorb pollutants and pesticides. Heck, they don’t even break down well or dilute. Instead, surfactants only breakdown further into more toxic byproducts.
Hand Sanitizer Use Out and About
Germs are everywhere! They can get onto hands and items we touch during daily activities and make us sick. Cleaning hands at key times with soap and water or hand sanitizer
that contains at least 60% alcohol is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to those around you.
There are important differences between washing hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizer. Soap and water work to remove all types of germs from hands, while sanitizer acts by killing certain germs on the skin. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs in many situations, they should be used in the right situations. Soap and water are more effective than hand sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs like norovirus, Cryptosporidium, and Clostridioides difficile, as well as chemicals.
Hand sanitizers also may not remove harmful chemicals, such as pesticides and heavy metals like lead.
Handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs, pesticides, and metals on hands. Knowing when to clean your hands and which method to use will give you the best chance of preventing sickness.
What are the qualities of a good shampoo?
The characteristics of a good shampoo are fairly obvious. A shampoo
should clean away the oil and dirt, rinse out easily, and leave your hair shiny, manageable, and flexible.
Research has shown that various chemicals lurking inside shampoo may induce serious health risks, like memory loss, eye and skin irritation, hair follicle damage that can lead to hair loss, and even cancer.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classify personal care products, it does not regulate them. Therefore, there are no legal guidelines or boundaries for shampoo manufacturers
The descriptive “all-natural” has become a buzzword in the beauty world for environmental friendliness. What some shampoo makers leave out, however, is they still use the lathering agents, emulsifiers and synthetic fragrances that contain hundreds of harmful chemicals.
Additives to avoid:
* Propylene glycol, known as the main ingredient in antifreeze, is also found in makeup, toothpaste and in your shampoo. It can cause allergic reactions.
* Sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate are common causes of eye irritation. They can also damage hair follicles. When absorbed into the body from continuous contact, they can bring on asthma attacks.
* Synthetic fragrances contain hundreds of chemicals, some of which have been known to cause headaches, dizziness, rash, hyper pigmentation, coughing and vomiting.
*The National Toxicology Program found that applying diethanolamine to a mouse’s skin induced liver and kidney cancer. DEA is readily absorbed through the skin and can also be toxic to the brain.
The spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 has spurred a surge in sales of cleaning and disinfection products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, along with thorough hand washing—both standard practices for helping slow the spread of viruses and bacteria. But consumers will be disappointed if they go looking for a product that specifically promises to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Although there’s good evidence the novel coronavirus is one of the easiest types of viruses to kill, scientists are still determining its exact nature and how big a role surface transmission plays in its spread. As researchers rush to understand the new pathogen, the US EPA is working to provide the public with information about disinfectant
s that can help slow its spread. Such claims won’t be allowed in brick-and-mortar stores, though, until more testing can be done.