Clean and Green Laundry
I’ve searched high and low for a laundry solution that is effective on really stinky clothes, let alone eco-friendly and green. Doc (a.k.a., my husband) is an Ironman and both my teens work out at least once daily. Trust me, it’s hard to get out the funk! After many, many tries of various commercial and DIY methods, I’m happy to say I’ve finally settled on the end all, be all, solution. It is: Castile soap, Arm & Hammer’s Super Washing Soda, Epsom salt, and essential oils. This combination is both easy and very effective. In fact, it works better than commercial products on sweaty work-out gear and musty towels.
Moreover, most commercial products rank poorly in the environmental department. Detergents like Tide and Cheer, and fabric softeners like Bounce and Downy, typically rank in the D-F range in the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. Even some environmentally friendly brands like Seventh Generation and Meyer’s have products in the C-D range.
Eco-Friendly Laundry Solution
Start by mixing Epsom salt and essential oil(s) of your choice. Look for oils that have anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties like lavender and lemon. (This is a great way to support your friend selling oils, or you can support mine!) For each cup of Epsom salt add approximately 10-20 drops of oil. Store in a glass jar with a small scoop. Shake well.
For the laundry:
- add 1/4 cup of Arm & Hammer’s Super Washing Soda directly in the back of the drum – otherwise you will get a powdery residue on your machine (this step is optional, see below)
- add 2 tbsp. of the Epsom salt/oil mixture directly into the back of the drum
- add laundry on top of soda and salt
- add 1 oz. (2 oz. for non-HE machine) of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soap into soap dispenser- pick your scent, like lavender or orange
- wash on any cycle – I usually use cold because it is more environmentally friendly
- dry – no fabric softener needed – (And, if you do notice static, try an aluminum foil ball in your dryer rather than a dryer sheet)
- The Arm & Hammer’s Soda actually dilutes the lingering scent coming from the Epsom salt/oil mixture. If your clothes aren’t too grungy, skip it all together. Or, if you are really on top of things, wait to add the Epsom salt/oil mixture to the final rinse cycle.
- If you leave wet laundry in your washing machine over night, don’t completely rewash to get rid of the musty smell. Just throw some Epsom sale/oil mixture in and run it again on the Rinse Only cycle.
- I’ve developed a habit of putting the soda and salt into the drum as soon as I pull out a clean load to put in the dryer. That way, if someone happens to throw something directly into the machine instead of the laundry basket (a rarity in this house), or if I collect a handful of clothes from the floor at once (a frequent occurrence in this house), I can throw them directly in the machine.
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About the Products
Dr. Bronner’s is a company that supports sustainability and social action. Their Pure- Castile Liquid Soap comes in multiple scents and can be used to clean just about anything. The soap earned an A rating from EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, and a 1 (out of 10) rating from EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.
Arm & Hammer’s Super Washing Soda is also a multi-purpose cleanser that is pure sodium carbonate. It gets to the core of any stench and boosts the Castile soap’s power.
EWG’s Cleaning Guide also gave it an A.
Epsom salt, which is magnesium sulfate, acts as a softener for the clothes. It also received an A rating from EWG’s Cleaning Guide.
Finally, essential oils can help to kill microbes and fungus and leave your clothes smelling fresh. The oils received a 1 ranking from EWG’s Cosmetics Database, but note that some people can be allergic to certain oils.
Wash, dry, fold, repeat…