Doing Laundry The Non-Toxic Way

Switching from conventional laundry products, loaded with preservatives, artificial fragrances and a toxic soup of hazardous chemicals, to safer, natural laundry products can be confusing and frustrating. Years ago, when I was making the switch, I noticed the natural detergents would often leave my clothes, well… not as fresh-smelling as a mountain breeze. I wanted those “fresh scents” back to mask the odor. Later, I realized my laundry wasn’t even getting really clean, whether I used natural detergents or not, because I wasn’t using them right!

Three children later, I’ve found the cure for the stinky-laundry blues, using pure, biodegradable, septic- and gray-water-safe Lifekind products:

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Pre-treat

Grease Stains: For grease stains like salad dressing, apply All-Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser directly to the spot on dry fabric, vigorously rub the area together, and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then rub and rub while rinsing under hot water. (Hot water is more effective than cold at dissolving and rinsing away oil.) Next, apply more of the product to the spot, leave it in, and put in the wash. *Use hot water if the fabric’s washing instructions permit it.

Food and other stains: Generously spray Stain & Odor Eliminator, with live enzyme cultures, on the spot and rub-rub-rub, then rinse, using cold or warm water. Hot water kills the “live” enzymes, so don’t use hot water. Now ring out the water and spray some more Stain & Odor Eliminator on the spot, then it’s ready for the machine.


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Washing

Machine: Front loaders are more efficient, use less water, do a better job, and are gentler on fabrics than top loaders. Many front loaders have special settings that are very helpful and can save you time and energy, like “sanitize” and “hand wash.”

Detergent: Choose all-temperature Laundry Powder, which contains Oxygen Bleach, or use Laundry Liquid. Both are safe for people with sensitive skin or allergies and for HE machines, septic systems, and gray-watered plants. Both are super concentrated, saving money and resources. If you’re not sure whether to choose liquid or powder, check out Grist’s “Ask Umbra” column What kind of laundry soap is lightest on the land?

Boost: Oxygen Bleach is a non-toxic, chlorine-free, color-safe powder bleach that whitens, brightens, and softens fabrics. It can also be made into a paste by adding a bit of water to use as a pre-treatment for spots. For washables that have been tainted with unpleasant smells or mildew, I always add a healthy dose of Stain & Odor Eliminator directly to the wash cycle (remember – cold or warm, not hot water).

Please, No Fabric Softener: According to the Environmental Health Association of Ontario, fabric softener is the most toxic product produced for daily household use, and the neurostimulant/irritants and central-nervous-system toxins used in these products are known to produce an addictive-type response that may cause a user to experience a feeling of pleasure when the product is directly inhaled. Well, I’ve never been a fan of oily fabric softeners anyway, because I like my towels to actually absorb water, rather than just smear it around. But if you’re like me and you don’t like crunchy towels either, just add ½ cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle.

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Drying

No Dryer Sheets: Aside from the Amish way, hanging out to dry, the healthiest advice I can give you is DO NOT USE DRYER SHEETS! Chloroform, A-Terpineol, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Acetate, Ethanol, Pentane, Ethyl Acetate, Camphor, Linalool, Phthalates, and Limonene are some of the chemicals found in dryer sheets. And people add this stuff to their already cleaned clothes! Stick to the baking-soda-in-the-washing-machine trick. And you can try wool dryer balls, found in most natural-food stores and online. Add 2 drops of pure essential oil to the dryer balls and you’ve got “fresh scent.”

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Ironing

Synthetic-Free Ironing Board Cover: Use an Ironing Board Cover that is free of synthetic and chemical flame retardants to avoid ironing chemicals into your fabrics.

No Aerosol Spray Starch: The chemicals in conventional spray starches are no better than the fabric softener’s plight. You can find natural alternatives for sale online or at your natural-foods store, or you can make it yourself for just pennies. I never iron anything. Ever. So I haven’t tried the homemade kind, but Bren did. Check out her blog post here.

Folding

Sorry, I can’t help you with that. But enter your email address above to subscribe to our blog and receive future posts, and you may see me demonstrate the magic of folding a fitted sheet.

 

Sources:

http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/laundry/techfact/keychar.htm

https://www.lifekind.com/laundry-cleaning

http://saferchemicals.org/2014/08/21/is-your-laundry-clean-or-just-greenwashed/

http://www.naturalnews.com/034617_fabric_softeners_toxic_chemicals_laundry.html#

http://www.ehaontario.ca/help-with.htm

Ask Umbra reference: http://grist.org/living/what-kind-of-laundry-soap-is-lightest-on-the-land/

Bren Did blog: http://brendid.com/3-ways-make-non-toxic-spray-starch/

Our Top 10 Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Spring is here, which means it’s time for spring cleaning!  OK, I know that you aren’t as excited about that as I seem to be, but hopefully these tips and tricks will help you when you are getting your house in tip-top shape this spring.

1. Put an organic bed-bug and dust-mite barrier cover on all of your pillows and on your mattress.  Even though natural rubber mattresses naturally repel dust mites (it’s not a very hospitable environment for the little buggers), these covers can also keep the surfaces of your bedding clean, and can be thrown in the wash very easily.  If you have an older innerspring mattress, a dust-mite barrier cover can keep the dust mites away from you.  If you already have covers on your mattress and pillow, this is the time to throw them in the wash.

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2.  Freshen up your non-washable bedding by airing it out in the sun.  Wait for a nice sunny day, and put your wool comforter, pillows, couch cushions, and anything else that can’t go in the washing machine out in a sunny part of your yard.  You can even sprinkle a little bit of baking soda on the surface while it sits out in the sun for extra freshness.  The sun is a natural brightener, and will make your bedding feel nice and refreshed.

Baking Soda

3.  Instead of using your dryer to dry your bedding, hang it outside to dry.  Not only will it give you that great straight-off-the-line crispness, it doesn’t cost anything, and is a great way to save on energy costs when you are washing all of your bedding.

Fresh Organic Bedding

4.  Is your house feeling a little stuffy after being closed up for the winter?  Open all of the windows on a nice day, and let it air out.  It makes a huge difference in switching your mind from “winter mode” to “spring mode,” and makes the chore of cleaning a little bit more enjoyable.  If your house is especially stuffy, try one of our HEPA air purifiers.  Lifekind has several different sizes that can handle an area as small as your car to a space as large as 1,300 square feet!

 Lifekind HEPA Air Filter

 

5.  Dust all of your surfaces, starting at the top of the room, and work your way down to the floor, saving vacuuming for last. Don’t forget to wipe down your light fixtures and baseboards to remove contaminants that aggravate allergies.

6.  Vacuum after you have done the rest of the cleaning. If you vacuum first, you will just end up knocking all of the dust from higher up in the room back onto the floor, and you will need to do the floors again.  Save yourself a step.

7.  For hard, water-safe surfaces throughout your house, you can use our All-Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser.  It is made with grapefruit-seed and orange-peel extract, and has a nice, clean scent, so your house will smell great, without smelling like chemicals.  I usually dilute it for wiping down counters, painted walls and other light-duty cleaning, but also use it full strength for tougher cleaning.AllPurposeKO8.  Flip your mattress!  Most of our mattresses need to be flipped only once a year, and this is the perfect time to do it.  If you have a mattress that doesn’t need to be flipped, you can still rotate it (move the head of the mattress to the foot) so that it wears evenly and will last as long as possible.

Lifekind Organic Kids Mattress
9.  Move all of your appliances and clean out from behind them, including vacuuming off the dust from the back of the fridge, getting the schmutz from around the stove (full-strength Cleaner and Degreaser works great for this!), and all of the lint that hides around your dryer.  These hidden allergens can be annoying your sinuses, even if the rest of your house is spic-and-span clean.

10.  Put a few vases of fresh flowers around your house. Even though this isn’t really cleaning, it is a great way to put a smile on your face and remind yourself that spring is just around the corner after a long, cold winter!shutterstock_73432741
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to change your household air filter.  You should be doing this every month to make sure your HVAC system is working as well as possible, but if you haven’t done it in awhile, do it now!