Tips for Finding a Safe and Natural Laundry Detergent

What is the Problem with Most Detergents?

Don’t wig out just yet; the Tide corporation is not giving people cancer. But, for those who are interested in obtaining the most “Green” cleaning options, finding the safe and natural detergent is very important. This is complicated because many of the products labeled “green” are not free of harmful compounds.
So, how is the environmentally conscious health enthusiast to find the best options for them? Following is an overview of what makes a product harmful and how you can identify the real safe and natural products.

Finding a Safe Natural Laundry Detergent

Real Soap and Detergent

If you want to be as safe and green as this modern society will permit, there is no substitute for the ancient ways. Common soap is a surfactant derived from plant based oils reacting with potassium oxide (lye). This creates the soap bars our forefathers and mothers used to keep clean and perform their weekly washing.

Real soap is one of the simplest inventions, and there are even many modern equivalents available. “Dr. Bronner’s” liquid soap is one such option and can be found in health stores everywhere. Furthermore, soap flakes are also available. Made from the actual soap.

Actual soap will not react well to water with high mineral content, which is why the detergent was invented. You can give your soap the capacity to be used in all water types by adding a bit of washing soda to the soap before adding it to the wash water.

The Dangers of Many Commercial Options

If you must go the commercial route, and convenience often demands this, only buy those products that have a list of materials that can be clearly identified. Even still, there is much “reading between the lies” that will lead you to the right soap – Pun Intended!

For example, you will find surfactant listed on the ingredients of many different natural detergents. Nevertheless, you should know that there are many plants based surfactants that carry unhealthy impurities as by-products of the process of mass-production. This means that many ingredients listed as safe are safe as they can’t be fully removed from fabrics.

Then there is the term “biodegradable” which can be stretched to illogical limits and used to cover some pretty harmful ingredients. The term biodegradable means that the thing can be decomposed by other living organisms.

Because the vast majority of substances will decompose eventually, “biodegradable” does not necessarily mean the product will not harm the environment. The term certainly doesn’t mean the product is not toxic either.

The terms “toxic” and “non-toxic” are some more definitions that are used liberally in the detergent industry, without much regard to their effects. Typically, commercial industries define toxicity regarding risk.

Which means that many “low-risk” ingredients are being sold as “no risk.” The only “no risk” ingredients are those made by old fashioned methods with very limited ingredients. Look for commercial products that try to emulate these practices and include the simplest of products such as simple soap powder or flakes and washing soda.

Enzymes are another red flag. Many modern detergents contain cleaning enzymes that improve the functionality of the product by actively “digesting” stains and other foreign contaminants. This is no problem at all if these enzymes are thoroughly washed out from the fabrics. This happens in machine washed laundry.

But this type of detergent should never be used for washing upholstery or furniture. When washing these fabrics, the wet/dry VAC does not always do a totally thorough job of removing all these enzymes from their places deep in the fabrics. The result is that when the furniture, drapery or upholstery dries, these enzymes become airborne.

When inhaled, these enzymes can result in asthma attacks and other respiratory allergies in individuals susceptible to these conditions.

Looking for Certified Green Laundry Detergents

One of the genuine ways to find a good detergent will be to find those products that bear the third-party certification for being truly non-toxic and biodegradable to an efficient degree.
This type of certification is only now being implemented, and there are very few regulatory boards in effect at the moment. Nevertheless, with all the dangers that can be unleashed through unhealthy products, finding this third-party seal is the solitary way to know if your products are truly healthy or not.

The alternative will be making your soap, or finding classic soap flakes and adding washing soda if water is highly mineralized. Following are two of the most prominent third-party label seals that indicate safe, natural detergents.

Leaping Bunny

The leaping bunny is a label for those corporations that follow Corporate Standards of Compassion for Animals. While this is not a measure of the product itself, it is a measure of a corporation with high standards of responsibility and a commitment to not test products on animals.  Overall is the best detergent we found at this.

Green Seal
The Green Seal indicates a cleaning product that adheres to the highest levels of environmental and health standards, which include:

-Product is non-corrosive, especially to the human body

-The product will not cause any illness if absorbed or inhaled.

-Completely free of alkylphenol, phthalates, 2-utylehanol, heavy metals, ethoxylate, optical brighteners or ozone-depleting compounds.

-No Mutagenic Compounds as per the UN definition.

-No reproductive toxins

-No carcinogenic materials

-Contains no combustibles or air borne pollutants

-Performs well as conventional products