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Clean your clothes the Non-Toxic Way!
9 years ago
| Being Green

I am starting this discussion over and the first one due to advertising is being deleted; I will do my best to copy over some of the posts.

Clothing with toxins in them that we wear all day long with our skin taking in the toxins and thenwe breathe the toxins in as well just simply is not healthy or kind to our earth.

Here is an article from

Dangers in Your Laundry Basket
By SkellyBones (15, South Carolina)

I was actually inspired to write this article after reading a small excerpt about home-cleaning remedies from a test. Who would have guessed mind-numbing standardized testing could be inspiring? Anyway, I thought about how using safe, consumer and environment-friendly products, like white vinegar, could be used instead of harsh chemicals like bleach.

A variety of chemicals used in detergents and fabric softeners can cause health-related problems. Some products can be very vague about the ingredients in them (the one used in my household doesn't even have ingredients listed. Can we all say illegal?), and instead of listing the actual chemical name the manufacturer will write "Optical Brightener" or "Stabilizer". This leaves the consumer clueless. Another bad thing about the ingredients is most of them require hot water to work, and hot water wastes a lot of energy. Most of the detergents and softeners contain harsh ingredients like:

-Optical Brighteners: do not actually make fabric brighter; the "brighteners" are actually chemicals that change UV rays into visible light to give the affect of more vivid colors; they can give the skin a rash when exposed to sunlight, and is also toxic to fish

-Fragrances/Perfume: most made from petroleum which has been linked to cancer, lung damage and inflammation; also very toxic to fish and mammals

-Household Bleach (sodium hypochlorite): it can react with organic materials in the environment and toxic compounds can be created that can cause reproductive, and immune disorders

-Phenol: more commonly nonyl phenol ethoxylate; is highly toxic to people who are hypersensitive to it and it can cause death in those people; it is rapidly absorbed into the body and affects the nervous system, heart and blood vessels

-Phosphates: used to prevent dirt from settling back into clothing; when released into the environment they cause the growth of certain marine plants which causes an upset in the ecosystem

No need to be scared of doing laundry though, there is still hope for clean clothes! First things, first. Buy detergent that is either "low-phosphate" or completely free of it. Next, use cold water when washing because hot, or even warm, water wastes a lot of energy. It also shrinks cotton and denim, so using cold water can't hurt. As for stain removal, look in your fridge and pantry for the answers! Using white vinegar to replace your fabric softener removes much of the chemical risk involved in laundry, and it also breaks down the dirt in your clothing ( by the way, white vinegar will not make your clothes smell like a pickle).

If you add one cup of salt to your wash, you can prevent the bleeding of colors, and this will reduce the need for bleach. And instead of using bleach to make whites whiter, lay your white clothes out to dry in the sun. The sun will naturally bleach them. For any other stain problems like grease, blood, lipstick, even gasoline can be resolved with household products like mustard, milk, ice, nail polish remover, hairspray, etc. Just type your stain removal query into Google.

Remember to use cold water, and read the ingredients (if they are even there) and do some research if you don't know what it contains. Buy phosphate-free detergent, and use white vinegar instead of fragrant softener. Do yourself and the environment a favor: Launder your clothing in a safe, clean and healthy way.

9 years ago

The Toxic Danger of Fabric Softener and Dryer Sheets

Many people will remember a famous TV ad where a woman races to her washing machine, fabric softener in hand, only to arrive just as the wash ends. This woman who "forgot to ad the fabric softener" was actually doing herself and her family a favor. Although they may make your clothes feel soft and smell fresh, fabric softener and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products around. And chances are that the staggering 99.8 percent of Americans who use common commercial detergents, fabric softeners, bleaches, and stain removers would think twice if they knew they contained chemicals that could cause cancer and brain damage.

Here is a list of just some of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets:

Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
Limonene: Known carcinogen
A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA's Hazardous Waste list
Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
So how could products with pretty names like Soft Ocean Mist, Summer Orchard and April Fresh be so dangerous?

The chemicals in fabric softeners are pungent and strong smelling -- so strong that they require the use of these heavy fragrances (think 50 times as much fragrance) just to cover up the smells. Furthermore, synthetic fabrics, which are the reason fabric softeners were created in the first place, do not smell good either when heated in a dryer or heated by our bodies ... hence the need for even more hefty fragrances.

In other words, remove all the added fragrance that endears people to fabric softeners and -- like the cliché wolf in sheep's clothing -- the real smells of the chemical-laced fabric softener and the synthetic fabrics they were designed around may prompt people to shoot their laundry machines and be done with it.

Are "Soft" Clothes Worth It?

Fabric softeners are made to stay in your clothing for long periods of time. As such, chemicals are slowly released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb. Dryer sheets are particularly noxious because they are heated in the dryer and the chemicals are released through dryer vents and out into the environment. Health effects from being exposed to the chemicals in fabric softeners include:

Central nervous system disorders
Blood pressure reduction
Irritation to skin, mucus membranes and respiratory tract
Pancreatic cancer

Fabric Softener
9 years ago

Do we really need it? If you need it for the reduction of static electricity in the winter, just use a sheet on the piece of clothing. I don't think it's necessary in the whole wash load. Just my opinion. : -)

9 years ago

I read that using a 1/4 cup of white vibnegar during the rise cycle will help with static cling, and softening. I myself use baking soda to help with the fresh smell, and peroxide to whiten. My boyfriend would have a fit if I put vinegar in his wash. I use it for my uniforms for work and for the rat's material. Yes, I reuse their peices of cloth until I cant anymore! Chew holes!

9 years ago

It's been a few years since we've used regular detergents or any fabric softeners at all. I use biokleen for laundry soap now. LOVE IT! I smells so good and lasts forever. Also gets all the stains out of my dh's clothes and that is really saying something because he is a mechanic and comes home covered in grease or oil or whatever it was that got on him that day. The other day a friend of our asked why I don't use fabric softener and I told him it's because of all the chemicals. He kind of rolled his eyes and said, "What do you do for the static then?" I told him I shake out the clothing and that takes care of it. To which he replied that he just didn't understand why I would want to have to do that when I could just use a dryer sheet. I shrugged and ended the conversation since it was clear to me that he completely missed my point. You just can't convince some people and he is definitely one.

Hi Lily E.
9 years ago

I agree sometimes you just cant convince some people. But, we have to keep trying and at the very least take care of ourselves and our families. If that's the best we can do, it's still something!!!

9 years ago

I'm still using Seventh Generation liquid detergent; measuring it carefully with a teaspoon. I'd like to try Biokleen if it has a lemon smell.

Everyone place the word ZERO in your windows
9 years ago

Then maybe the neighbors will get the hint. Zero waste Zero toxins Zero greenhouse gases Zero addiction to oil Zero emissions vehicles ZERO WAITING!

static laundry
9 years ago

If you only buy clothes of natural materials like cotton and wool,you will not have the problem of it getting static.Only synthetic fibres get static.

organic clothes
9 years ago

I have noticed that, I have some organic clothes, towels and sheets. Just hard to find organic scrubs for work, and I do look.

9 years ago

I've been using Method detergent lately. I used to love Sun & Earth (which was the only one available in supermarkets years ago). I don't use softeners at all as I have sensitive skin. What I do use are those dryer balls. Has anyone used eco-balls?

9 years ago

Vinegar in the downy ball works well for softening I tried it as a suggestion from someone else on care2(Thank You!!). There are new felted wool balls out that can be used in the dryer as an alternative to the PVC laundry balls. I think they are called "Woolies". I really want to try these because you can get them in essential oil scents that will not stain your clothing or unscented. I love my Borax and could not wash socks without it. Static can also be controlled by using something metal to run over or inside the clothing to remove it like a metal hanger I keep a few just for that purpose and they bend to any shape to get smaller areas like pant legs. Happy washing!

Dryer Sachets - make at home
9 years ago

Mix dried flowers with EO of same scent in a ceramic bowl and let sit covered with saran wrap for an hour. Place into muslin bags and tie tightly closed, fold over top and retie around folded over top to avoid leakage.

9 years ago

Where can you get "woolies", my mother in law got me the plastic dryer balls and I love how they fulff my clothes but would love a petroleum free object to do the same thing. 

Shaklee Laundry Basic L
9 years ago

Shaklee Basic Laundry Liquid is a wonderful natural alternative to laundry soap on the market. I've used Basic L for years and love it. It contains no dyes and is biodegradable and won't harm the planet. Great Shaklee product! I also use their vitamins and protein.

Soap nuts
9 years ago

.....are awsome AND they can be composted Truly an all natural product!!!

If you use vinegar in your wash it will break down elastic. (if you care about your elastic)

9 years ago

Yikes, I didn't realize that about the vinegar...that'll be no good for the undies!

9 years ago

anandi I have recently bought the dryer balls also. I love them. The only problem I have with them is they seem to get tangled in alot of my clothing and I am always on the hunt for them. They do a great job for static, but, I have not found them to help soften clothes that much. I personally do not like my towels to be softened, they dont seem to soak up the water after a shower as well.

9 years ago

Ecos laundry detergent.  Soy based, no hydrocarbons or petroleum ingredients, scented with essential oils.  Good stuff.

Soap Nuts for clean clothes
9 years ago

I haven’t tried the dryer balls but I no longer use (or rarely; a couple of times in the last 3 months) dryer sheets or fabric softener.

I use soap nuts; they’re environmentally friendly and chemical free… and they work! I found out about them first from the Health Ranger, Mike Adams but didn’t want to pay for shipping so I didn’t order them. Then I found they were carrying them at my local health store (Nature’s Market in Indianapolis) and bought a sample bag of 5 nuts… good for 4-5 loads. Loved it so much I got a big bag and use them most of the time. The store also carries a liquid version which is great for sheets and big things that might cause the little bag (nuts go in bag and then in the wash) to get tangled and not circulate.

This is where you can get them online (haven’t actually ordered this product from them and I don’t sell/profit from this referral)

When I use the soap nuts, I don’t use fabric softener and rarely have an issue with cling beyond a minor socks sticking type of thing. A quick shake & it dissipates. I’ve had occasion to use my Tide only once or twice since I started using the nuts a few months ago. First thing I noticed when I shifted the clothes to the dryer was how perfumey they smelled… my son noticed it to.

Soap nuts clean the clothes just great although stains may still need pretreating. Clean clothes that just smell…. Clean.

8 years ago

Thank you Susan for that tip! 


Juile...that is interesting about the towels not being as effective; I would not know as I never have used a softener

8 years ago

I've not had a problem with vinegar and the elastic in undies.  I wonder if that's only if you use too much.  I put in just a T. 


And the absolutely best way to get clothes that smell great is to hang them outdoors on a sunny day.  Not allowed to do that where I live, unfortunately.

8 years ago

Instead of buying dryer balls use tennis balls, not only will they soften your clothes but the static will cling to them.....Just cut a very small slit in the ball if your worried they can't stand the heat.  If your a real recycler use "dead balls" and clean them, any tennis court will give you those free.


Worried about the color of the balls harming your clothes (?) buy white ones that have no added color. 


Tennis balls don't have those spikes that dryer balls do that your clothes get entangeled in, not to mention they are about 1/10th the cost and do not break down like the rubber ones do.


You can also dab them with your favorite natural oil, just be sure you use a different ball for different oils or you may invent a smell so good you attract the opposite sex or tigers.


They work



7 years ago

Good Tip Bill!

My eco friendly detergent leaves the clothes soft; I do not need to use anything; just was the clothes.

new to me, info
6 years ago

I use basic vinegar, baking soda, and a fragrence free, eco laundry "soap" ` I have used the tennis balls in my dryer for years not only to remove static but also to keep the laundry from twisting together and thereby taking less time to dry. This past week I had a new washer installed after my really old one "died' and it was no longer feasible to fix it. After much research and searching I was able to pruchase a high effeciency front loader that uses a minimal amount of water and electricity. It also spins the clothing so well at the end of the cycle the amount of time required to dry is much less. Finally, if you are considering getting either an Energy Saver or an "Eco Energy Saver" model, there are still good rebates out there to take advantage of. I managed to get a sale prince in addition to free delivery and installation. Those combined with the rebates brought the cost of the machine down to a price lower than a top loader !! Finally, these machines use a very very small amount of product to clean with and are very gentle on the fabric reducing wear and tear on your clothes. !

6 years ago

Thank you for that Gayle  A good eco friendly washing machine certainly is a good idea. My next one will be one and I keep hearing how much better they are on your that is eco friendly too.

5 years ago

I love the way my bedding is cleaned with the non-toxic soap I use. It makes sleeping in my bed feel safer.

At hotels it never feels the same and we know that they are using the cheapest which is usually toxic.

5 years ago

I use magnets that clean your clothes safely with no chemicals, plus either borax or baking soda, depending on which I can find, I live a long way from Walmart and have to buy what I can find!. I use dryer balls also, I'm going to start using tennis balls. I can't even walk down the cleaner aisle at the store, makes me start coughing and if I don't get out very quickly I will have to use my inhaler. That tells me just how safe they all are!!

cleaning clothes
5 years ago

I use a food based cleaner.  It cleans wonderfully and our testing has shown that is raises the vitality of people wearing clothes washed in this rather than the usual lowering of energy from all the chemicals from normal soaps that get absorbed by our skin. 

5 years ago

I use that same food based laundry soap and love it.

Wow, more great info...
4 years ago

...and I'm doing the laundry right now.  Now I need to rethink what I use.  Thank you.

4 years ago

Yes it is good to rethink how you do your laundry. For me it started because the toxic laundry soaps caused me to be very itchy.

4 years ago

I am often surprised at how many people actually do not care about using toxic laundry detergent for themselves and this earth!

4 years ago

This is really cool. I sometimes add vinegar to my laundry cause my Mom said it'll help remove stains. I had fun reading this thread and enjoyed the tips given...

Non toxic organic nail polish
3 years ago

I am a licensed cosmetologist for over 20 years, and I am in love with this product! It's been hard to find a polish like this that covers and lasts. This is a new nail polish developed by a Podiatrists/Pharmacist. NourISH organic enriched nail polish is Infused with organic essential oils (Thyme, peppermint and lemmongrass) to protect your nails from bacteria and unsightly nail fungus. Gluten-free soy protein and vitamins C and E to nourish your nails. NourISH is toxin-free—no formaldehyde, no toluene and no DBP.

3 years ago


3 years ago


3 years ago

Thanks for the great tips!! I always use natural detergent etc, and so I notice how sensitive to the chemicals in regular fabric softeners and detergents I am, when I am around those that still use them. I find natural/alternative options work just fine!

3 years ago

Thank you for the great information.

3 years ago

Very helpful. Thanks for sharing.

2 years ago

Thanks I will try it

1 year ago

Thank you for sharing.

1 year ago

Good to know! Thanks for sharing


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