say bye to artificial dyes

While we're working on greening your laundry routine, let's go to the beginning. It's time to wash ya dirty clothes. Whether you use powder, liquid or detergent pods, you are probably cleaning your clothes in a mess of chemicals and artificial dyes.

While you see Spring Mist, Island Fresh or Ocean Escape on the label, that fragrance alone could be a combination of several hundred chemicals, including many that are hazardous. According to Mother Earth Living, laundry detergents are often derived from petrochemicals and contain synthetic fragrances, even when they're marketed as “fragrance-free.” Optical brighteners are found in many detergent formulas; they're additives that emit blue light, making whites appear whiter. They tend to stay in clothes after washing, which can cause skin irritation. They also decompose relatively slowly and can be toxic to marine life. (If you want more detail on which ingredients are the most harmful, check out Mother Earth Living's list of laundry chemicals to avoid.)

So what's the alternative to washing your clothes in chemicals?

Natural Detergents

The main thing you want to look for is a detergent that leaves out chemicals and artificial dyes. Many brands have natural, plant-based detergent formulas that clean your clothes without the addition of chemicals (especially optical brighteners). Fragrances come from essential oils, leaving your clothes with a light, fresh, not-fake smell. These detergents are gentler on your skin (sensitive or not), and if you have little ones in your home, it's much better for their skin as well.

As with dryer sheets, Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyers probably have the most popular/mainstream natural laundry detergents. While I love Mrs. Meyers dryer sheets, I stick pretty loyally to Seventh Generation liquid laundry detergent. Most large chains carry these brands, so you don't have to visit a specialty store while running errands.

Other brands that have highly rated natural detergents are: Ecover (Future post spoiler alert: I love their dishwasher detergent!), Method, The Honest Co. and Ecos. You can find smaller companies online as well, such as Rockin' Green.

And skip the tub of laundry pods. They may be convenient, but think about that plastic wrapper. Nothing like adding a little plastic to your loads. While it dissolves in the water, why even put it there in the first place? They also pose a health hazard to children, sickening thousands of children a year (many between ages 1 and 2) and even sending some to the hospital.

"These are very different from traditional laundry detergent," says Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. "Although we are not entirely sure why they are so toxic, we know that they are very concentrated and the chemicals they contain may not be identical to those found in liquid laundry detergent."
Refer to the Environmental Working Group's laundry detergent scorecard to see how your favorite ranks.


I'll disclose: I have never made my own laundry detergent. But, it's a popular option to going green in your laundry room, so we'll look at which recipes have the best success.

Don't automatically go for any recipe you see on Pinterest...chances are, you'll end up with a Pinterest fail and dirty clothes.

Common highly rated DIY recipes involve Borax, Baking Soda, Fels Naptha, and Purex Crystals. You'll only need 1-2 tablespoons per load. A bonus is that you'll save a ton of money on detergent! These recipes yield about a year's worth of detergent for a fraction of the cost.

DIY Laundry Detergent from Blissful55 courtesy of HowDoesShe

Recipe from HappyMoneySaver

HouseLogic performed a great experiment comparing one natural commercial detergent and three DIY detergents to see how they performed at removing a mustard stain from a t-shirt scrap. also performed a comparison test that tried out HowDoesShe's recipe and found that it wasn't the top performing. Their favorite DIY detergent is from One Good Thing.

Ask Anna has a detergent recipe that includes doTERRA essential oils.

Have you experimented with making your own laundry detergent? How did you like using it, and do you still use it over a commercial detergent?


Anonymous said...

Yay! Thanks for the information, ma'am!

Caitlin said...

Absolutely! :)

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