Laundry soap (or detergent) can be a very good or bad thing. What? How can clean clothes be bad? I didn’t say clean clothes. I said the stuff we clean our clothes with- laundry soap.
Before we get into making laundry soap, let’s breakdown commercial laundry detergent, as most of us probably know it. It is called detergent, not soap, for good reason. The definition of detergent is
any of numerous synthetic water-soluble or liquid organic preparations that are chemically different from soaps but are able to emulsify oils, hold dirt in suspension, and act as wetting agents.
Did you notice the words “synthetic” and “chemical”? Yes, we are putting synthetic compounds, namely chemicals, onto our clothes EVERY TIME we wash them. And those chemicals get absorbed into our bodies every time we wear our clothes. Those chemicals are also washed down the drain, possibly reaching streams and rivers affecting the ecosystem that live there.
So just what are the “chemicals” in laundry soap (detergent) and are they really that bad?
- Phthalates- one of the culprits often found in a myriad of cleaning products including laundry detergent. According to the EWG, “Diethyl phthalate (DEP) is a component of fragrance in detergents – in this case, you won’t see the phthalate listed as an ingredient, only the word ‘fragrance’ will appear on the ingredient list.”
- Phthalates are endocrine disruptors that can lead to hormone imbalance. There have been multiple studies done that show a relationship between phthalate toxicity and reproductive system disorders or problems. In animal studies they have been linked to liver, kidney, heart and lung damage. (Read more about phthalates here.
- Triclosan- commonly found as an antibacterial agent in cleaning products. This toxic chemical is one of nineteen the FDA banned in September 2016. But companies were given one year to pull products or replace the triclosan with other antibacterial ingredients.
- Triclosan can contribute to hormone disruption and even muscle weakness. But the problem isn’t resolved just because triclosan is banned now. Other antibacterial ingredients are used instead. But this can still lead to problems. Not only are the bad bacteria killed, but also the good bacteria. This can also lead to antimicrobial resistance causing stronger, harsher antibacterial products needed to keep microbes at bay.
Remember way back from high school biology that your skin is your largest organ. And it absorbs what is put onto it into your blood stream. So for all of us who wear clothes every day, yes, I hope that’s all of you, our skin is constantly absorbing residue from our clothes. Those chemicals from the store bought laundry detergent are being absorbed into your blood stream!
But there’s another reason to make your own natural laundry soap.
It’s cheap! Have you paid attention to how much laundry soap (detergent) from the store cost?? Oh my! Who can afford clean clothes? Even the bargain brands aren’t cheap. And if you are a conscious shopper and go for the more natural laundry soaps then you really are going to break the bank. And unfortunately, many of those aren’t too much safer than the conventional detergents.
I know you’re probably asking-is it really cheaper? Yes! The ingredients we use are among the most affordable items we purchase and most of them have multiple uses making them even more economical. They also can be bought in much larger quantities than what is needed for laundry soap, still at a very economical price. This means I can shop once and have all the items I need on hand to make natural laundry soap for months. (How often are you having to purchase that store bought stuff?)
Making your own natural laundry soap is as quick and easy as it is cheap and beneficial.
As I’ve already said, most of these ingredients serve many purposes. They’re things I already have in the house. And this recipe does not call for Borax. Yes, Borax is usually considered a natural cleaning product, but there is still some controversy over how safe it really is. So I just opted to not include it and the laundry soap works great without it.
Most of these items can be found in the laundry aisle at most local grocery stores. Many can also be found online. Here are the items online:
And for those of you like me who prefer to see it all go together, here’s a super quick video on how to make it.
So there you have it! Natural homemade laundry soap-truly clean clothes. Now you can stay clean and save money-it’s a win win!
Want more natural recipes with essential oils?
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Check out my course on Essential Oils here.