Saturday, 23 June 2012

Laundry Etiquette?

I am sure everyone knows that when you buy fabric, especially new fabric, to wash it before you use it. Doing so does a few things, it shrinks the fabric, washes out extra dyes and chemicals and makes it easier to work with but... have you considered what you are washing your fabric with?

Fabric softener should be considered a big no-no, not just with pieces of fabric but with your daily laundry as well. Softeners are chemical based compounds to fool you into thinking that your clothing and linens are softer than they would be without. This is a lie you do not need fabric softener at all, for anything, no not even to remove static cling (toss out your dryer sheets too!).
There are a multitude of reasons why you should not use softeners in your wash:

  1. They are absolutely unnecessary, baking soda and vinegar with your wash works better at softening than a cap full of liquid softener
  2. Softeners use chemicals that coat your fabrics, and that coat stays there and builds up over time
  3. They make your clothing and fabric MORE flammable, a simple burn test will prove this. (If you choose to do a burn test, you are responsible for any accidents that occur, I will not be held liable.) 
  4. Softeners will rot your fabrics and can grow black mold inside the fibres of your clothing if they are not dried properly.
  5. The chemicals build up in dryers and on lint traps causing your dryer to become a major fire hazard. Have you heard of the lint trap test? Take your lint trap and run water on top of it, if the water does not run freely through you have build up of grease & chemicals which are of course highly flammable, wash your lint trap immediately and vacuum out your dryer duct. I check mine at least once a year, I haven't had to wash it since I went softener free ;). Vacuum the duct regularly.
  6. The chemicals contained in your softener and dryer sheets do not break down easily and they contaminate local waste water & ground water resources. (Try purifying the run off from your washing machine with a liquid softener, I don't recommend drinking the result.)
  7. Scents & perfumes used in softeners irritate skin, lungs and sinuses and are harmful chemicals in their own right. From the Canadian Lung association 
Chemicals used to add scents to products can cause serious health problems for some people, especially for people with lung diseases such as asthma or COPD. Being near a scented product can make some people sick.
Scents enter our bodies through our skin and our lungs. The chemicals in scents can cause many different reactions. Even products containing natural plant extracts can cause allergic reactions in some people.
 I could continue on with various reasons but I am sure the general gist is apparent, sure they smell great but at what cost to yourself?

My next bone to pick is with major brands of laundry detergent, I am sure you are familiar with your standard laundry detergent display at Wal-Mart or local grocery chain, the majority of the brands you see there are crap. They are as bad as fabric softeners! As a matter of fact quite a few of those brands have been treated so they require you to use fabric softeners, I took a well known brand and tried it without fabric softeners, the result was shocking, literally :D Static cling on cottons is not something I am used to, wools, rayons, silks, yes... cottons, not so much.
Oh! Oh! Get this.. This also applies to softeners, do you remember the great big boxes and bottles of detergents back in the 80's & 90's? Then as the Eco movement got underway all of a sudden detergents and softeners are 2x concentrated or 3x concentrated, in smaller packaging? Well, do you realize that you, the consumer, are paying for the privilege of not having water and fillers added to your soap? That's right! The major brands removed water and fillers, shrunk the packages and charged you at least twice as much if not 3 times as much for the same amount of soap and called it "concentrated". I don't know about you but that fact made me think twice about what I was purchasing.
All the reasons I listed for not using softeners also apply to laundry detergents, the chemical that has been found prevalent in major brands of laundry detergents is 1,4 dioxane, which doesn't break down and has been found in water sources and drinking water across North America. An article:

When cleaning products and detergents are processed using ethoxylation, a cheap technique that lessens the severity of the harsher ingredients, 1,4-dioxane is created. Since it is considered a byproduct of ethylene oxide reacting with other ingredients, 1,4-dioxane is technically considered a contaminant and thus does not have to be included on product labeling. As a result, consumers are largely unaware of its presence in majorhousehold products.

Don't just take my word for it, do test this out yourself, research it for your own knowledge so you know what is and is not present in your home. I also recommend you research your cleaning supplies for they too have adverse side effects. For quilting enthusiasts I recommend you check the contents of your spray bastes, starches and other favorite treatments. I read an article about how spray bastes actually damage your fabric and at 15$ a can, I think I will do without :D Nothing wrong with a little time spent on pin basting.

So to conclude, it is well worth your time to check out just what is exactly in your home, I believe many illnesses and disease can be prevented just by living a less toxic life. It's also worth it to you to check these things out from a financial perspective, if you spend an average of $5 a bottle on fabric softener twice a month you can save yourself $120 a year on not buying it, you can also save more money by switching brands of laundry detergents, I buy ECOS from Canadian Tire at $15 a bottle I get on average 150-180 loads from 1 large bottle in my HE washing machine. If I were buying my old brand, Purex, I would get about 35 loads per average bottle at 6$ each, I would have to spend $24-$30 to get the same amount of loads done. Buying the big caddies doesn't make it cheaper either, even though they claim to have 96 loads per caddy for 11$ I found that I got about 80 loads, so I would still have to buy another bottle or caddy to make up the difference.  Yes I really did count, when you are a 1 income large family, $5 is a major difference ;).


  1. Christina,

    I write alot about living naturally and reusing. I'd like to link back to this posting in one of my upcoming posts. Are you OK with that? I began following you earlier this month.

    1. Totally fine with that Caroline :) I have to chuckle, I noticed you were following and I started snooping in your blog :D


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