Be careful smelling your fresh laundry...

April 28, 2015 by Emily Koegler

Love the fresh smell of laundry? Be careful. You could be sniffing up harmful chemicals. 

Since I was young, I've always been sensitive to certain detergents and would get rashes from most fabric softeners and dryer sheets. This caused my mom to seek out alternatives from the detergent we used, along with the temperature and products to remove stains. It was definitely a process of trial and error, and not every item of clothing survived, but in the long run we figured out what worked best for us.

It can be hard to determine exactly what chemicals are causing an allergic reaction, since most detergents are full of a long list of chemicals, artificial scents, and dyes that have not been proven to be safe. One of the culprits could be sulfates, which are also found in shampoos and soaps. 

Luckily, there are a lot of alternatives out there today that don’t contain these harsh chemicals and dyes. While I’ve never made my own, you can find many DIY detergents online. The most popular being a mix of washing soda, borax and Castile soap. These are all natural alternatives that will help brighten and freshen your clothing without the harmful effects of conventional brand detergents. 

My favorite store bought alternative is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Laundry Detergent in the lavender scent. It uses natural ingredients – no solvents, bleach or harsh ingredients making it perfect for my sensitive skin. It also is cruelty free and biodegradable which makes me feel even better about my purchase. My mom uses Seventh Generation and If You Care. It’s best to find the one that works for you.

Another issue is figuring out when to use hot water, warm water or cold water. Through trial and error, I feel that I’ve figured out what works best for each circumstance.

cleaning laundryHot water kills the most germs, but can shrink and fade clothing. I use this temperature for my linens, under garments and less delicate clothing items.

Warm water can help kill germs and clean without as much fading and shrinking of your clothes. I use this on items such as jeans, work pants and t-shirts that I want to last a long time.

Cold water won’t shrink your clothing and causes the least amount of fading. I use this for my delicates, some hand wash items and my darks.

For stains, hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar have become my favorites. I’ll add warm water and a little hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar and let it set for a minute, then take a rag or old toothbrush and rub the stain out. Wash the clothing item after this process and the stain should be gone.

These are only a few of many alternative tips and tricks for laundry these days. As I’ve stated above, it is best to figure out what works best for you and your family. Have you tried any alternative detergents? What are your favorites?