The How’s and Why’s of DIY Green Cleaning
We all have been hearing about the detriment to our bodies and our environment from the numerous chemicals in non-ecofriendly, household detergents and cleaners.
Key Laundry Detergent’s Ingredients Toxic
On the website of Department of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in their article dated 1999 titled “Key Characteristics of Laundry Detergent” they warn us that the key ingredients of most laundry detergents (with such innocuous names as, colorants, brighteners, surfactants, builders) are found to be toxic to humans and animals in a range of serious issues, including giving off hazardous gases, destroying and polluting eco-systems, and causing cancer.
I don’t know about you, but in my very busy family of teens and two working parents, we do a lot of laundry. Often these same chemicals and worse are in our cleaners, disinfectants, and dish washing detergents. This is why I choose green cleaning products.
Two of the worst toxins are phenol and formaldehyde found in many disinfectants and cleaners. (Formaldehyde, the same chemical used to preserve dead bodies.) According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental action group, “Formaldehyde is used in …some disinfectants, antibacterial soaps and even beauty products. Formaldehyde has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the EPA….Home exposure to formaldehyde has been linked to respiratory allergies in children.”
According to the Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) Guidelines for Phenol states that phenol is not a carcinogenic, but it did cause cancer in rats over a short span of time! Needless to say, I am livid, that sounds like a “carcinogenic substance” if you ask me! I am taking steps to clean-up (excuse the sad pun) my home from all of these poisons.
A Green Education
I have found a wonderful bounty of green-cleaning blogs and sites full of information and advice–kindred spirits to myself–growing together and spurring one another on in “Green-ness”. Sometimes there is conflicting information around or worse yet “rumors” and also occasionally there has been controversy, even about some “green” manufacturers not truly being truthful in their labeling!!
I am seeking to be on top of ALL of this information as a wife, mom, homemaker, and environmentalist. I want to be “in the know” for my own life and I want to share that with you–to do my part in helping “green-up” the cleaning product industry. Our voice matters and each time you or I buy, we speak.
There are some great, green products out there on the market; now even finding their way into Mainstream Grocery Stores. I am reviewing them one-by-one, attempting to give you the good, the bad, and “the dirt” on them.
My Natural Cleaning Product Review Blog
The most important rule I’ve learned is: READ THE LABELS!
Read between-the-lines and know the terminology, so that you can know exactly what they mean. For example: “fragrance” usually means a synthetic fragrance, but “essential oil” means the real thing! Or “Natural” can actually refer to a “natural, but toxic” ingredient. I started this blog out of my own research as a concerned, eco-conscious consumer.
Sometimes I make my own detergent–and today I wanted to “review my own recipe”. P.S. I’m not a supermom, I found that taking a couple hours every few months to whip up this “recipe” has been very easy.
My Own DIY Laundry Detergent
I combined a few of recipes found online that were simple –I like simple. Then off to the supermarket I went and purchased just a few household “normals” with which to mix my clothes detergent. What was on my list? White vinegar, baking soda, borax, washing soda, and good, old-fashioned soap:
6 cups Baking Soda
3 cups Washing Soda*
3 cups Borax**
6 bars Soap (any kind, grated up)
*Washing Soda is sodium carbonate, a close cousin of Baking Soda, and is not edible or interchangeable, but it is an all-natural way to increase detergent’s cleaning power. It helps to get out ground-in dirt, stains, and grease.
**Borax, also is a natural detergent “booster”.
I chop the soap with a large knife and grate it in my blender. You can use any kind of bar soap, I try to use only all-natural ones. They are a little pricier, but this recipe last for 3 months.
I measure all the ingredients and add everything in a large reusable plastic container with a lid. For a normal load of laundry I use 1/4 cup of the detergent.
Also, for those who like fragrance with their detergents, you can add a dropperful (30-40 drops) of essential oil of your choice to the detergent at the mixing stage. Some essential oils have been known to be natural disinfectants too, like lavender, tea tree, and thyme.
For Rinsing: I use 1/2 cup white vinegar in a blue “Downy” ball during the rinse cycle for “fabric softener”. It also adds some disinfecting qualities to help rinse out remaining dirt or soap residue and many germs. You could also add the white vinegar to the rinse container in your washer.
Heinz company spokesperson, Michael Mullen, has referenced studies that show that a straight solution of 5% vinegar—the kind you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99% of bacteria, 82% of mold, and 80 % of germs (viruses) within 10 minutes.
This natural cleaning product combination of all-natural detergent and vinegar rinse has been working great on our laundry for our active family of four. I love the smell of clean and the satisfaction of doing it Green!
Pamela Palmer is the founder and writer of Natural Cleaning Product Reviews at http://www.greenkeen.blogspot.com. Pam is also a contributing “Green” writer for the ezine, Suite 101 . She has written for print publications and other websites.She resides in Western Maryland, near the mountains and enjoys writing poetry from the porch of her almost one-hundred-year-old house. She is the wife of a very patient man for the last 21 years and is Mom to two energetic teens, a goofy dog and a street-smart cat. Visit her poetry blog goldapples.wordpress.com when you get the chance.
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