Did you know the laundry room might be one of the more toxic areas of your home? Researchers have found that dryer vents can emit more than 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets are used. Fortunately, you can take several steps to ensure your laundry room is healthier and more efficient.
First, avoid hazardous chemicals in laundry detergents. Few of the chemicals in laundry-care products have been thoroughly tested, and some chemicals are still widely used despite tests showing they can be harmful to human health. Although laundry detergent manufacturers aren’t required to disclose all ingredients on labels, most still list ingredients on products or online. Use this handy laundry chemicals chart to look for and avoid the worst offenders.
Instead of using chemical-laden products, choose responsible ones from the list here, or make your own using the recipe below.
Simple Washing Powder:
This simple, homemade detergent is inexpensive to make and free of harmful chemicals.
16 cups baking soda
12 cups washing soda
8 cups grated castile soap
3 tablespoons lavender, lemon or grapefruit essential oil (optional)
Combine baking soda, washing soda and soap flakes. If using, add essential oil and mix with a wire whisk. Use 1/8 cup per load.
Yield: This recipe makes enough powder to last a typical family of four for one year.
Finally, follow some of our tips for a healthier, more efficient laundry room.
• Avoid products with labels that say “warning,” “danger” or “poison.”
• Eliminate the use of fabric softeners by using 1/2 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle instead.
• Forgo dryer sheets. For fragrance, add a few drops of essential oil to a damp rag and throw it in the dryer with laundry. Use dryer balls (check out the recycled wool ones from EcoSisters) to reduce drying time, wrinkles and static.
• Add baking soda to detergent to naturally brighten colors and eliminate odors.
• Make sure your dryer vents outdoors and clean out the vent periodically.
• Rid the washer of bacteria, soap scum and grease by running a cleaning cycle with white vinegar and hot water.
Read all of our tips for a healthier laundry room.