While I’ve been very impressed with the selection and performance of green beauty products, I haven’t had as much success with off the shelf household cleaning products. There is a lot of DIY information for using the basics (vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, etc.) along with essential oils, and for the most part I’ve transitioned to these for cleaning floors, windows and other solid surfaces. However, I find the idea of making my own laundry detergent intimidating (or maybe just too time consuming). Most of the online recipes I’ve found begin with grating bar soap and my experiences with grating non-food items usually end with an extended clean up of the food processor or scraped knuckles. Also, I prefer to wash my clothes in cold water and I’m concerned that the grated soap will not dissolve. Luckily I’ve been able to find a few cleaner, greener laundry products that are also effective.
Eco-me Laundry Detergent is the one that I use most frequently for clothes. It comes in a 32 oz bottle that provides 64 washes. It is available in 4 different scents (fragrance free, lavender, vanilla, and citrus berry), although not all retailers carry all scents. I’ve only tried the fragrance free and the lavender. Fragrance free is truly unscented and lavender has a very light natural lavender scent. The EWG (Environmental Working Group) website does not reflect a rating for the current version of this product; however, the prior version of Eco-me Laundry Detergent, Emma, had an A rating.
Although I am grateful for the EWG website, it can be confusing as there are often different ratings for different versions of the products. It isn’t always clear what version of the product you are buying especially if you are ordering online and can’t see the actual container with ingredients listed. I’ve found that sometimes the retailer doesn’t always list the current ingredients on their website. Although most all of the commercially available laundry detergents, even those with an A rating from EWG, contain some questionable ingredients, at this point I’m willing to make some compromises for the sake of efficiency and effectiveness.
Honest 4 in 1 laundry packs provide “cleaning, stain fighting, brightening and softening”. It has an A rating from EWG. I use these routinely for towels, sheets and any particularly dirty items. The cleaning power is on par with traditional detergents. One bag contains 50 packs and you only need 1 pack per regular size load. Since I usually wash my towels in hot water, I sometimes add a bit of borax for an added boost.
As an alternative to dryer sheets I’ve been using these wool dryer balls from Lullaby Baby. The idea behind the dryer balls is that they reduce drying time, soften fabrics, prevent wrinkles and eliminate static cling. I have noticed a slight reduction in the drying time but I wouldn’t consider it significant. As for softening and preventing wrinkles, I find that they do a decent job at replacing a traditional dryer sheet and this is the primary reason that I’ve continued to use them. (However, the best way to prevent wrinkles is to remove the clothes from the dryer as soon as they are dry.) In my opinion they did not prevent static cling. Luckily, living in a hot, humid climate this isn’t something that I have to deal with very often. Prior to buying these I did try just using tennis balls in the dryer, but the noise was more than I could tolerate. While the dryer balls also generate some noise, they weren’t as loud as the tennis balls.
Another benefit of the dryer balls is the ability to add scent to your laundry using essential oils. I always add a couple of drops of oil to each of the dryer balls and let it absorb for a few minutes before putting them in the dryer. Lavender is always a standby for laundry but you can choose whatever scent you prefer and even create your own personalized laundry blend. Eucalyptus works well for sheets and towels, especially if suffering from any respiratory ailments. My current favorites are Lemongrass for the Spring and Ylang Ylang when I want switch things up.
Just as the options for green beauty have expanded, so have our choices for green cleaning products and hopefully in the not too distant future, as additional information comes to light, the product manufacturers will be able to replace questionable ingredients with better alternatives.
Do you have any recommendations for greener, cleaner household cleaning products? Or have you had any success with the DIY route? If so, please share as I’d love to hear about your recommendations or recipes.