How “clean” can your clothes get when the soap you are using may contain potentially hazardous chemicals, or fragrances that you may be allergic too?
Cleaning products are among the most significant sources of exposure to toxic chemicals in the home. Many of the products we use to scrub, whiten and soften our loads of laundry are made with ingredients that raise concerns for human health and our environment.
5 easy ways to clean up your laundry routine:
1) Look closely at the ingredient list.
Some laundry detergents include ingredients like triethanolamine that can cause harm if they come into contact with your skin or if you are sensitive. Other contain relatively low hazard ingredients, like sodium laureth sulfate, which may be contaminated with potentially toxic manufacturing impurities such as 1,4-dioxane.
2) Choose non-scented detergents.
A recent study tested laundry products and other common consumer products used in the home and determined that they released on average 17 volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) per product, including a number of chemicals designated as toxic air contaminants. Most were not disclosed on product labels, but instead were components of a product’s “fragrance.” Fragranced products emit terpenes such as limonene and alpha-pinene which dominate VOC concentrations found indoors and can react with ozone to generate a range of secondary pollutants including formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and ultra fine particles.
Fragrance-free detergents are easy to find and can make a huge difference for your indoor air quality.
3) Use cold water detergents to reduce the amount of energy required per load of laundry.
4) Buy concentrated detergents. The concentrated versions generally have better environmental performance— 2x is the minimum standard, but the more concentrated the better. Less packaging means less impact on manufacturing and transportation resources, smaller impact on landfills and recycling facilities.
5) Reduce the need for additional laundry products, like fabric softeners, with a few common ingredients:
- Replace fabric softener by adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar to each load during the rinse cycle.
- Decrease drying time, static and wrinkles by placing a tied wool sock in the dryer.
For a relatively small area, the laundry room makes a significant contribution to a household’s overall environmental impact.
When purchasing household cleaners and laundry detergents, look for:
- Products certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment program or EPA’s Safer Choice.
- Non-toxic products that contain no ingredients of health concern.
- Products that are efficiently packaged in recyclable containers and include clearly measurable dispensers.
- Products with plant based ingredients and enzymes, instead of petroleum based solvents.
GoodGuide has reviewed and rated 1,920 of the best laundry products. See the complete list here >