One thing I’ve learned through my laundry detergent research (and other household products), is that you can’t trust the label. “Plant-based” or “natural” mean nothing when you’re looking for nontoxic fixes. In the USA “natural” has no real legal definition. So, you have to educate yourself a bit on the ingredients on the back label.
Toxic ingredients in lots of household items (especially soaps) contain; sulfates, mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, proplyene glycol, and petrolatum. The overall reason people are going natural is because these ingredients can cause cancer, disrupt your endocrine system, can affect your fertility, and can affect your overall health.
I’m no doctor, but when plenty of research from reliable sources can back these ingredients as “bad,” I don’t have to continue buying these products for my family. So here’s what I’ve been trying to keep my eye out for:
A quick key:
mineral oil = (made from petroleum) = “liquid petroleum”, “paraffin oil”, and “white mineral oil”
petrolatum = (petroleum jelly/mineral oil jelly) = also “liquid petroleum”, “paraffin oil”, and “white mineral oil”
sulfates = (makes soap foamy) = Sodium Lauryl Sulfates (SLS), Sodium Ethol Sulfates (SES), or other ingredients ending with “sulfates”
parabens = (preservative) = any ingredient ending in -paraben
phthalates = (fragrance) = butyl benzyl phthalate, or commonly ingredients abbreviated and ending in “P” such as BBP, DBP, DEHP, DEP, DiDP, DiNP, DnHP, and DnOP
propylene glycol = (retains moisture) = 1,2 propanediol, 1-2 dihydroxpropane, methyl ethyl glycol, trimethol glycol
Now I’m not going to get much more into the chemicals today because I’m not a chemist. And I’m not going to pretend to be one. But the point is you have to do some self-research if you want to live a genuine natural lifestyle. To be honest, I’m still learning as I go.
So anyways, I found this basic recipe from my mom for homemade laundry detergent. I thought, “I can actually choose which ingredients to use.” I can cut fragrance (one of the worst toxins) and add essential oils instead. Let’s do a quick ingredient check on the labels.
If you research homemade laundry detergent this is probably similar to the one you’ll find. This recipe contains borax, baking soda, Super Washing Soda, Fels Naptha bar, Oxi Clean, and Purex Crystals.
Key of ingredients found in homemade detergent:
Baking soda is just sodium bicarbonate. Super Washing Soda is sodium carbonate. Borax is known as sodium borate or sodium tetraborate, which is a mineral. Fels Naptha soap derives from petroleum. WHAT!? It also includes lye, lots of oils, methyl ether, glycerin, and a mystery fragrance… OxiClean still doesn’t seem to list all of the ingredients. Or at least there’s some confusion on it. What we know is that it contains Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate. And lastly, Purex Crystals, which contain fragrances. No surprise, but, already I’ve decided to switch to oils there.
Even if you take out the toxic ingredients, all the rest (except baking soda) are still unsafe for ingestion. Nontoxic doesn’t necessarily mean safe to eat. Which was one of my first questions when hopping on board with oils. I simply want to know, if my kids happen to get into a few things under my kitchen sink that they’re not going to need their stomach pumped in the E.R. But you still have to be very careful to use everything, toxic or not, the way it’s intended for use.
My very first batch of laundry detergent included what I had on hand; Kirk’s Castile bar soap, baking soda, Super Washing Soda, and Borax. I left out the Fels, OxiClean, and Purex. It worked well, but to be honest, my laundry didn’t have as bright a smell, even with the lavender drops on my wool dryer balls. I’m still working out the kinks, and will be doing more research on those 3 products to see if I can find out what’s in them.
Lastly, I added one more step to slightly more soiled clothes… AKA like when toddlers wet their pants and their sheets…. I just added about 1/2 a cup of white vinegar to my wash to neutralize the urine smells. The smaller the loads in this case seem to work better also.
And so after all the research and experimenting, I think I’m closer to finding a natural laundry detergent option. I know Young Living sells the detergent, but the size of the bottle has me a little worried. I would go through detergent so fast with 5 family members! (At this point it just seems like every person in my house goes through about 15 outfits a day because of how much laundry there is to wash).
Site Sources for the ingredients listed in both keys: