They’re not all they’re cracked up to be! Most laundry detergents, powders and liquids, bought from supermarket shelves have fillers added to them to bulk up the product so you think you’re getting more than you are! One way to determine how much filler is in your product is by filling an empty jam jar with water and adding 1 tsp of detergent to it. Put the lid on and shake to dissolve the product. You’d think that all of the product would dissolve but it won’t.
Everything that doesn’t dissolve is a filler and adds nothing to your laundry but problems! They clog the fibres of your garments making them feel hard when dry, they can build up and block the pipes of your washing machine and they sit in the drawer of the washing machine causing mould to grow. They can also cause skin irritation when left in your clothes.
So choose your detergent carefully. The less fillers a product has in it the better.
Avoid adding too much detergent. Though it might seem counter-intuitive adding too much detergent is not good for your laundry. Think about it… if your detergent is full of fillers then adding more detergent is going to introduce more fillers to your laundry, making your clothes harder still! Plus the extra suds can trap dirt and redeposit them back onto the laundry. Err on the side of caution, less is more when it comes to laundry detergent.
Fabric Conditioners and Tumble Dryer Sheets
So now that we’ve cleaned and inadvertently hardened our clothes, we reach for a fabric conditioner or dryer sheet to soften them again. I grant you, they do sound like a good idea, softening your clothes, making them smell fresh with less static and less wrinkles. But they are actually quite a cocktail of chemicals that can cause harm to your health and the environment. Some may also contain animal fat.
Remember that “clean” doesn’t actually have a smell! If any of your household cleaning or laundry products leave behind a heavy fragrance it’s usually been added to mask the smell of the toxic chemicals that are in the product. Often even the fragrances themselves can be harmful to your health.
What can we use to help soften our clothes instead? Distilled white vinegar will reduce odour, reduce static cling, soften and brighten your clothes without the use of harsh chemicals. It’s kind to the environment and can be used with a septic tank. How much you use depends on the size of your washing machine but usually between 1/4 – 1/2 a cup. Put into the compartment in the drawer of your machine where you would normally put the fabric conditioner. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell either, it quickly disappears once the clean washing is removed from the machine.
The tumble dryer sheets can easily be replaced too, with wool dryer balls. They will help to soften your clothes, reduce static and wrinkles, as well as reducing the drying time, and if you really can’t live without your laundry having a smell then add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to your dryer balls. It’s a win win!