When we get ready to put a load of laundry in the wash, the last thing we realize is that we’re soaking our laundry in toxic chemicals that can damage our health and well-being. For example, dioxane, a likely carcinogenic chemical, can be found in surprisingly high levels in various cleaning products including detergents.
Want to get your clothes clean and keep your family safe from harmful chemicals? Try out these 6 tips for keeping your colors vibrant and whites bright without toxic chemicals. Bonus: These tips will help you save money!
Stop buying dryer sheets
There really is no need to to be using dryer sheets. They are filled with chemicals, so if you’re trying to reduce static and soften laundry with an eco-friendly option, use dryer balls instead. Not only are they natural, but they also reduce drying time significantly. Plus they help keep landfills from filling up with the waste of one-use dryer sheets—wool dryer balls last 1,000 loads. That means you not only help save the planet, but also a little bit of cash!
Swap out your stain remover with hydrogen peroxide
Fortunately, there are many natural stain removers to choose from, but hydrogen peroxide is a leading choice. It’s easy to find on any grocery store shelf, it’s environmentally-friendly and services many, many useful purposes. Hydrogen peroxide is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-mold, and anti-mildew, which makes it tough on fighting stains. Simply spray hydrogen peroxide onto a stain, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wash it with your regular organic detergent. For particularly difficult stains, use a toothbrush or other gentle scrub brush after you apply the hydrogen peroxide but before you put it in the wash.
Use baking soda instead of fabric softener
Instead of using chemical-laden fabric softener, try 1/2 cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle. All-natural baking soda not only softens fabric, but it is less irritable to your skin than many store-bought brands. If you want a more aromatic softener, mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1/2 cup of water until the baking soda dissolves. Add 2 cups of white vinegar slowly, and after the foam has settled, add about 15 drops of your favorite essential oil.
Line dry to keep colors bright
Vibrant colors starting to look a little faded? While your detergent may be partly to blame, the bigger culprit is your clothes dryer. Consider hanging your brights out on a line to dry. Not only will that keep your brights (and whites) looking bolder longer, it will also save you (and the planet) by conserving energy. Electric dryers are a common convenience in many households, but they do have their drawbacks. In addition to fading colors, they can also shrink certain fabrics, like cotton and rayon.
Make your own homemade laundry detergent
We often think that the only way to keep whites sharp is to use bleach or other harmful chemicals. But in reality there are many DIY detergent recipes that you can use to clean everything from fabrics to leather. Our natural world is amazingly adept at providing what we need, even as our modern world evolves. In fact, you can green clean your home from top-to-bottom with any number of homemade all-natural cleaning supplies.
For white shoes, pay particular attention to the material
Are your favorite white shoes a little less sparkly these days? You can make them like-new again, but make sure you use cleaning supplies that are suitable for your shoes’ material. If they’re canvas, you’ll want baking soda, white vinegar, and a toothbrush. Suede calls for a suede brush, a soft cotton cloth, a pink eraser, and white vinegar. For a more universal solution—and probably the best way to keep your shoes bright white for longer—try being selective about when you decide to wear them and where you’ll be wearing them.
Protecting your family’s health from toxic chemicals is more than skin deep. Using eco-friendly products and making your own supplies is a more sustainable way to stay clean and healthy, in addition to keeping your clothes and shoes clean and vibrant. Even trying out just one of these changes could make a huge difference in the way you look and feel.