Why You Need to Use Eco and Homemade Alternatives to Traditional Laundry Detergent

Take a moment to think about what is in traditional, petroleum-based laundry detergents: endocrine disruptors, estrogen mimics, carcinogens, phosphates, dyes and synthetic perfumes, and bleach.

For nearly 24 hours a day every day, you have the residue of those ingredients next to your skin—your body's largest organ. As an adult, you're covered with about 22 square feet of flesh that absorbs substances that come in contact with it.

bubbles bYou probably already understand dermal absorption of topical medicines and ointments. Less understood is the absorption of toxins and synthetics through the skin. The Children's Environmental Health Project reminds us that dermal absorption is greater when we cover the topical ointment when it's on skin. That's why we use bandages and why you should spray chemical insect repellent only on exposed skin—not covered skin.

But what if the toxin is on the clothes that you wear next to your skin? And not only your arms and legs but also body parts with sensitive skin, such as armpits and the groin area?

There's a belief that laundry detergent is rinsed free from your clothes in the wash, but if your clothes come out smelling of the detergent's fragrance, your clothes still have detergent in the fibers. Depending on your laundering process—whether you fill the basin and add detergent before adding the clothes or whether you throw them all in together—your clothes could have even more detergent in them.

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You'll likely never know exactly what is in your detergent, you'll never know how many airborne chemicals you breathe in from the laundering process, and you'll never know just how harmful these chemicals are to the environment and waterways—or to your body.

We can assume, however, that the toxic residues next to your skin—while you sleep and while you're awake—are being absorbed into your body where they build up and stress your organs responsible for detoxification.

The unknowns are countless!

What can you do?

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1. Educate yourself: learn about sulfates, dioxins, phosphates, and endocrine disruptors.
2. Use less detergent or alternatives (see below).
3. Read the ingredients on your detergent and ask questions of the manufacturers.
4. Investigate a product's eco-claims (i.e., what they don't contain); don't be fooled by the simple use of the word "natural."
5. Wear your clothes more than once if you can.
6. Use soap nuts!
7. Make your own detergent; here is an infographic full of recipes from the David Suzuki Foundation.
8. One cup of vinegar and one cup of baking soda with 10 drops of essential oil is a fantastic remedy for that towel smell. Three loads in a row, and you're good to go!

Clean clothes without chemicals and petroleum-based detergents are possible!

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