When I was growing up, my mom always used the same laundry detergent and fabric softener. When I married my husband, I found out he’s very sensitive to fragrances because his mother is allergic to many and always used non-scented products. When we started using cloth diapers, we were advised to use natural detergents as many other detergents are harmful to cloth diapers. Then a friend introduced me to Norwex, and I started to realize just how much the products I use in my laundry room affect my entire family. Today, I’d like to chat about why you need a chemical-free laundry room.
What’s in your washing machine?
Most of us develop preferences for cleaning products based on what our families used growing up. My mom had her favourite brand, and my mother-in-law had hers. I didn’t think very much about that until we started cloth diapering. Having to use a specific detergent for our diapers was a bit inconvenient. Yet if that detergent was better for the diapers, maybe it was also better for the rest of our clothing.
Besides cleaning agents, most laundry detergents also contain fragrances, dyes, and fillers. Those fillers are what cause problems for cloth diapers and for Norwex microfiber. While the cleaning agents and dyes may rinse out of your clothes, the fillers and fragrances remain behind, clogging the fibers. For people with sensitive skin, these fillers may cause skin irritation.
Norwex Ultra Power Plus laundry detergent is different. It contains no fillers, dyes, or fragrances. I actually put this to the test, because I wanted to see the fillers for myself. I bought a box of regular powdered laundry detergent and added the recommended amount to a cup of water. Then I added the recommended amount of Norwex UPP to another cup of water. I shook both cups up and waited for the water to settle. When it did, the Norwex UPP was as clear as if it had no soap in it, and the other cup looked like a snow globe.
Recently, there have been calls for the banning of plastic microbeads, found in many shower gels, toothpastes, and face washes. These tiny beads don’t dissolve, so they get washed into our streams and rivers—and affect fish, wildlife, and even humans. Thinking about that, I began to wonder about the fillers in most laundry detergents. If they don’t dissolve in the washing machine, they are also getting washed out into our water systems. Maybe they are less hazardous than microbeads, and maybe not.
What’s in your dryer?
I love opening my dryer to a stack of warm, clean clothes. They smell so fresh and fold so easily. Most of us like our clothes to come out of the dryer static-free and smelling good, and we’re willing to use whatever product promises that result. However, there can be problems here too. For example, dryer sheets—besides ending up in the garbage and creating more waste—can also be carcinogenic.
Besides health problems, dryer sheets can cause mechanical problems with your appliances. Chemicals and waxes in dryer sheets can damage your dryer’s heating element. They can also cause wax to accumulate on your lint catcher, affect its ability to allow hot moisture to escape.
Dryer balls offer a reusable, chemical-free alternative to dryer sheets. Instead of buying boxes of paper to throw out, simply buy a couple dryer balls that will last you for the next several years. My first pair of Norwex dryer balls lasted for nearly seven years before one cracked. I replaced them with the new wool dryer balls, which should last longer than the plastic balls. Wool is also a natural resource.
While I use my dryer balls without any scents, I know many people who like having nice-smelling clothes. You can create this, without chemicals, by using essential oils with your wool dryer balls. Simply add the oil of your choice to the dryer ball towards the end of the cycle, and let the dryer spin a bit longer. Your clothes come out static-free and smelling nice, and the smell is actually beneficial to your family instead of harmful.
A chemical-free laundry room saves you money!
As moms, most of us are looking for ways to save money in our homes. A lot of “environmental” or green products are more expensive than their chemical-based counterparts, making us think twice about buying them. Yes, I’ve been the mom standing in the grocery aisle, weighing the advantages of the green cleaning product over it’s heftier price.
Going chemical-free can help save you money, however. First, think of the disposable laundry and cleaning products you can eliminate. For example, dryer sheets just get thrown out and then you have to buy more. Dryer balls only need to be bought once and last for a very long time.
While Norwex laundry products may look expensive at first glance, most of them are very concentrated and can be used in small doses. For example, I use a teaspoon of laundry detergent for most loads of laundry—and I’m not washing small loads, either. I do about a load of laundry a day around here (with six people in the house, plus a baby in cloth diapers) and 1 kg of Norwex UPP lasts me just over two months.
Tips for making laundry day easier
- Don’t sort your laundry. I have three laundry bins in our home: one for my husband and I, one for Sunshine and Pearl (who share a room), and one for Jade and Lily (who share another room). On laundry day, I simply dump one bin into the washing machine and start the load. I check pockets when throwing clothes into the laundry bin (and remind my girls to do the same, though occasionally we’ve had a crayon or toy go through the wash). I wash my clothes on cold, with Norwex UPP, and they come out clean every time.
- Don’t buy clothes that don’t go into the dryer. Everything in my house goes straight from the washing machine to the dryer. I don’t have time to pull out sweaters, shirts or delicates that won’t go into the dryer. Yes, my bras might last longer if I didn’t dry them, but honestly, I’ve worn most of my bras for quite a few years, so I’m not really worried about that.
- Don’t fold the kids’ clothes. This is a tip I picked up from Frances, and it’s been a huge help. Putting away my clothes and my husband’s doesn’t take me very long. Most of his shirts hang up and I just fold mine and drop them in a drawer. Sorting and folding all the girls’ little shirts and shorts, however, took much longer. Frances pointed out that the kids don’t really care if their clothes are folded, and will soon unfold them by digging through their drawers. Now, I let Sunshine fold her own clothes (she discovered they fit better in her drawer if she does), while I simply sort Lily’s and Jade’s clothes into two piles (shirts and pants), and then drop them into their fabric boxes.
My favourite chemical-free laundry products:
- Norwex Ultra Power Plus laundry detergent
- Fluff & Tumble Wool Dryer Balls or Green Dryer Balls
- Stain Remover
- Odour Eliminator
- Let’s Do Laundry Pack (detergent, dryer balls, stain remover)
- Essential Oil Soothing Blend
- Essential Oil Purifying Blend
- Essential Oil Energizing Blend
What tips would you share for having a chemical-free laundry room? How do you decide which products to use in washing your family’s clothes?