8/19/2016

Zero waste laundry and dishwashing detergent

Hello, guys!
Since I am washing my laundry myself, I avoid to notice that the laundry detergent, I put into the machine, may not be the most sustainable thing to use. So, just like I did with hair shampoo LINK, I thought, that I would just not put anything in there anymore and wash the laundry with water. While this may work for clothes, that are just a little sweaty, water only could not cope with actual dirt on the clothes. So, I just made laundry detergent by my own- easy, quick and efficient.

(the following explanation do apply to both laundry and dishwashing detergent)
But first of: why should regular laundry detergent be avoided?
First of all, any laundry detergent will come in packaging. If it is a powder, the packaging maybe paper, liquid laundry detergents are always packed in plastic. The truly bad thing, however, is the laundry detergent itself. It often contains a large amount of toxic chemicals. A lot of them are not even there to clean the clothes, but for other purposes like bleaching, perfuming and fabric softening. This detergent will stick in the fabric, so when you wear the clothes, all this chemicals are pressed on to your skin, what can cause skin irritations, breathing problems and even serious sickness. (sources: 1 ,2 ,3)
But not only does this affect your own body negatively, it also poisons the enviroment. First of all, the detergent has to be produced. So, the ingredients have to be extracted from various places on the earth and brought to a manufacturing fabric. There, manufacturing takes up energy and be transported to shops. After having used the detergent, it gets into the sewage. Some of the chemical ingredients like bleacher and softener are not degradable by the treatment plant. This way, they get into rivers and the general enviroment and can poison flora and fauna. (sources: 1, 2)
There are natural alternative, aren't there?
Due to this problems, some firms have started to produce detergents with more natural ingredients, most popular so- called washing nuts. While this ingredients may be not as harmful, they are still taking energy and resources to be produced, transported and packaged. As for the washing nuts, they cause the problem that in poor countries like India, where those were used to wash laundry, washing nuts are becoming very expensive due to the incresed demand in Europe and North America, so that the native citizens have no alternative but to buy toxic detergents, that then poisen the rivers there. So, buying more natural and organic detergents is a step into the right direction, but not the solution yet.
I think, it is the best to make laundry detergent yourself. (sources: 1, 2(German))
How can you make laundry detergent?
There are a lot of different recipes for homemade laundry detergent.  The recipe, I started with is pretty easy:
All you need is ivy leaves (since ivy grows almost anywhere, you can just pick it in your garden or in a park), water and a bottle to fill in the detergent. Cut the leaves into smaller pieces and put them into a pot together with water (the ratio of ivy to water should be 1:10). and let it cook for 5 minutes. let it cool down and then fill only the liquid (sieving out the leaves) into your bottle.
When washing, just fill the detergent into your washing machine of put it into your dishwashing water, as you would do with regular detergent.
This recipe is not only easy, cheap and quick to make, it is also a very natural alternative to normal detergent and helps both your body and the enviroment.

When I have used up my bottle, I plan to try out some other recipes (for example with chestnuts- in autumn) as well and post about it then.
I hope, you enjoyed the post and it maybe inspired you to make natural laundry detergent as well. See you soon,

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