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5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use Homemade Laundry Detergent

My goal of this heading isn’t to give you an exact recipe, but to break down the common ingredients in
homemade laundry soaps.

Most homemade laundry ‘detergents’ are made up of water softeners like baking soda, washing soda, and
borax and a cleaning agent which is typically a grated bar of soap.

The goal of the water softener is to… you guessed it! Soften the water. You might have heard the terms
hard water and soft water which has to do with the level of minerals like calcium and magnesium in the

The most common water softeners used in homemade <a href="
soap/" target="_self">laundry soap borax and washing soda, but they’re marketed as laundry BOOSTERS
because they are meant to aid a detergent not replace one.

If you have really hard water, like I do in California, using a homemade laundry soap is even worse
because the high levels of calcium and magnesium make it almost impossible for the soap to wash free from
the textiles.

While the laundry boosters help some, its not an appropriate replacement for detergent.

DIY laundry ‘detergent’ can RUIN your clothing:

When you’re using homemade laundry soap you can ruin your clothing. I know this from personal
experience, but lets take a little bit deeper look into why.

If you use soap on your hands in the kitchen or bathroom sink you’ve probably had to deal with <a
href="" target="_self">soap build up or soap scum.

That’s happening to your clothes, and worse… your washing machine which we’ll address in the next

Every time you wash your clothing soap build up buries itself inside of the textiles. This build up can
create a water repelling effect which might be why your reusable towels aren’t super great at absorbing
water, but can also leave an oily residue behind.

When soap accumulates in your clothing it will actually attract and trap dirt in your textiles. It
quite literally makes your clothing DIRTY the exact opposite thing you want from a laundry detergent…

How Does Laundry Detergent Affect the Environment?

When we dump a capful of concentrated cleaning detergent into our laundry machine, we don’t really
think much of it, especially not in an environmental sense. After all, as far as most of us are concerned,
something as common and innocuous as laundry detergent couldn’t possibly be bad for the planet. Some
brands even make a point to say so! Unfortunately, like so many man-made chemical inventions, detergent is
far from completely harmless.

What are laundry detergents made from?

Detergents are hardly naturally occurring. Most of the most popular commercial brands are
manufactured using synthetic chemical compounds. This makes them very different from soap, which is made
from natural substances like lye and plant saponins. This makes sense, of course, as soap goes directly on
the skin; laundry detergent
does not.

Instead, laundry detergent is added to dirty laundry, where it does its job “lifting stains”
and “preserving colors” before getting washed out, diluted, and sent down the drain with the wastewater
from your washing machine. Unfortunately, the chemicals in these detergents can have a far-reaching
environmental impact.

What are the environmental effects of detergents?

Detergents can contain several chemical compounds that have negative environmental effects.
Phosphate-containing laundry or dish detergents can react adversely when they finally reach the water
table. The nitrogen in these detergents reacts with phosphorus in the water, creating nutrients that
stimulate the growth of algae in freshwater. According to Lenntech, a company from the Netherlands, this
type of algae uses up the oxygen in the water in a process called eutrophication. Over time, this slowly
depletes the oxygen in a body of water, ruining the ecosystem.

Other detergents contain surfactants, or surface-active agents, which are chemicals that reduce
the surface tension of oil and water. For the detergent, these surfactants help dirt to “lift off” and
stay out of clothing. The problem is, they also happen to be highly toxic to aquatic life. According to the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), surfactants break down the mucus layer that coats fish,
protecting them from parasites and bacteria.

They also reduce the surface tension of water, making it easier for waterways to absorb
pollutants and pesticides. Heck, they don’t even break down well or dilute. Instead, surfactants only
breakdown further into more toxic byproducts.

Hand Sanitizer Use Out and About

Germs are everywhere! They can get onto hands and items we touch during daily activities and make us
sick. Cleaning hands at key times with soap and water or <a href="
sanitizer/" target="_self">hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is one of the most
important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to those around you.

There are important differences between washing hands with soap and water and using hand sanitizer.
Soap and water work to remove all types of germs from hands, while sanitizer acts by killing certain germs
on the skin. Although alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs in many
situations, they should be used in the right situations. Soap and water are more effective than hand
sanitizers at removing certain kinds of germs like norovirus, Cryptosporidium, and Clostridioides
difficile, as well as chemicals.

Hand sanitizers also may not remove harmful chemicals, such as pesticides and heavy metals like lead.

Handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs, pesticides, and metals on hands. Knowing when to
clean your hands and which method to use will give you the best chance of preventing sickness.

Research has shown that various chemicals lurking inside shampoo may induce serious health risks, like
memory loss, eye and skin irritation, hair follicle damage that can lead to hair loss, and even cancer.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration classify personal care products, it does not regulate them.
Therefore, there are no legal guidelines or boundaries for shampoo <a href=""
target="_self">manufacturers to follow.

The descriptive “all-natural” has become a buzzword in the beauty world for environmental
friendliness. What some shampoo makers leave out, however, is they still use the lathering agents,
emulsifiers and synthetic fragrances that contain hundreds of harmful chemicals.

Additives to avoid:

* Propylene glycol, known as the main ingredient in antifreeze, is also found in makeup, toothpaste and
in your shampoo. It can cause allergic reactions.

* Sodium lauryl sulfate and ammonium lauryl sulfate are common causes of eye irritation. They can also
damage hair follicles. When absorbed into the body from continuous contact, they can bring on asthma

* Synthetic fragrances contain hundreds of chemicals, some of which have been known to cause headaches,
dizziness, rash, hyper pigmentation, coughing and vomiting.

*The National Toxicology Program found that applying diethanolamine to a mouse’s skin induced liver
and kidney cancer. DEA is readily absorbed through the skin and can also be toxic to the brain.

The spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 has spurred a surge in sales of cleaning and
disinfection products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular cleaning of
frequently touched surfaces, along with thorough hand washing—both standard practices for helping slow the
spread of viruses and bacteria. But consumers will be disappointed if they go looking for a product that
specifically promises to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Although there’s good evidence the novel coronavirus is one of the easiest types of viruses to
kill, scientists are still determining its exact nature and how big a role surface transmission plays in
its spread. As researchers rush to understand the new pathogen, the US EPA is working to provide the public
with information about <a href=""
target="_self">disinfectants that can help slow its spread. Such claims won’t be allowed in brick-
and-mortar stores, though, until more testing can be done.

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