“Which washing powder or laundry liquid do you use?”
It’s a question I am asked on a regular basis. You may know by now that I avoid synthetic chemicals in skin care and household cleaning products, but I also avoid synthetic chemicals in my laundry too.
Finding a natural laundry solution is important, as my clothes, sheets and kitchen cloths come into contact with my skin throughout the day. In the case of clothes and sheets, for hours and hours on end. So if my laundry soap is formulated from synthetic chemicals, including perfumes, my skin touches these ingredients and I'd rather it did not.
We all know the regulations around smoking and yet when it comes to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air from household sources do we pay attention? Health Canada's VOC guidelines tell us to "avoid some personal-care products and cleaning products". Even some eco-friendly washing powders promote that they contain less than 10 per cent VOCs but I'd rather have zero VOCs!
Other than the smell of conventional laundry products there is the issue of caring for the skin. According to Eczema Awareness Support and Education Canada somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent of children suffer from eczema.
My laundry choices are simple; I use soap nuts. I had been using Berry Plus laundry soap (berryplus.com), a laundry liquid created from soap nuts — a tiny amount goes a long way, a 225ml bottle lasted six months!
I now use raw soap nuts with good results; they are simple to use. Tie four or five soap nuts in a little cloth bag (usually provided) and put into your washing machine (they work best in a less than full load). Soap nuts are also a natural fabric softener with anti-static properties.
Soap nuts negate the need for plastic bottles of laundry liquid or any of the other items sold to us (implying we are ‘dirty’ if we don’t float about the house seeing flowers).
What we use in our laundry washes into the water supply. Once your wash is rinsed and you are hanging your clothes that isn’t the end of the story for those farther away. Our choice of laundry products impact wildlife and the ecosystem; for example, excessive algae overgrowth or feminization of amphibians.
Fortunately soap nuts offer a non-toxic and effective solution. Soap nuts grow high up in the mountains of the Himalaya as well as in India and the Caribbean. They grow on a tree and are not actually nuts but a fruit.
Soap nuts contain saponins that clean upon mixing with water, as they have soap-like foaming qualities. You only need a few soap nuts for a wash, so they are economical too.
When you have used the same soap nuts five times, don’t throw them out, they can be used to make a household spray cleaner!
To make a household spray cleaner:
Put the (used) soap nuts in a glass jar.
Add some hot water allow to steep over night.
Remove the soap nuts, compost them, and retain the liquid.
Use the liquid to clean your bathroom or kitchen.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of soap nuts. They work. I have a puppy and husband that regularly get muddy; one from running in the garden and the other mountain biking! Soap nuts ensure our clothes and bedding emerge from the washing machine clean, stain free and smelling fresh, which means no horrible fake smell.
You can buy soap nuts at Quantum Vitamins and online at www.SinfullyWholesome.com
Joanna writes for www.ActualOrganics.com and is about to publish her first book The Radiant Woman’s Handbook (ISBN: 978-0-9919495-0-2).