Thursday, March 19, 2015

Self-Reliance Tip of the Week - The Slippery Slope of Detergent

I was talking with a friend a few weeks ago and we were discussing the chemicals in detergents that can make us sick. She told me that her daughter kept getting sick over and over. With some help, she was able to realize that it was her clothes detergent that was weakening the little lady's immune system where she couldn't fight anything. This resulted in doctor visit after doctor visit. When she stopped using that clothes detergent, her daughter got better and those issues haven't returned. Whew! I love it when we are able to avoid something and it blesses us!

Now, why would chemicals do that to our bodies?

Here is a fairly short list of chemicals in laundry detergents that don't necessarily have to be put on the label (by law like packaged food does):

  1. Ethanol – Linked to nerve disorders
  2. 1,4-dioxane – Considered unsafe to breathe under any circumstances
  3. Ethyl acetate – A narcotic that is a hazardous waste
Here is the scientific stuff on wiki- look under "toxicology":,4-Dioxane#Toxicology
Yeousers! Even if it smells nice? Dangnit!

Which detergents have the highest concentrations of...lets say 1,4 dioxane?

David Steinman from the Green Patriot Working Group (GPWG) did a study which evaluated 20 conventional and natural brand laundry detergents on how much dioxane was present in them. Here’s what he found.
Conventional brands – Amounts of dioxane
Tide (Proctor & Gamble) – 55 parts per million of dioxane(ppm)
Ivory Snow Gentle (Proctor & Gamble) – 31 ppm
Tide Free (Proctor & Gamble)– 29 ppm
Purex (Dial Corp.) – 25 ppm
Gain 2X Ultra (Proctor & Gamble) – 21 ppm
Cheer Bright Clean Detergent (Proctor & Gamble) – 20 ppm
Era 2X Ultra (Proctor & Gamble) – 14 ppm
Arm & Hammer (Church & Dwight Co.) – 5.0 ppm
Wisk 2X Ultra (Sun Products Corp.) – 3.9 ppm
Woolite Complete Detergent (Reckitt Benckiser) – 1.3 ppm
All Laundry Detergent (Unilever) – 0.6 ppm
Dreft Powdered Detergent (P&G) – non-detectable
Sun Burst (Sun Products Corp.) – non-detectable
What about dryer sheets?
  1. Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
  2. Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
  3. Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
  4. Limonene: Known carcinogen
  5. A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
  6. Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list, eyes and respiratory tract irritant
  7. Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
  8. Chloroform: A Neurotoxin, anesthetic and carcinogen
  9. Linalool: Causes central nervous system disorders
  10. Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled, extremely flammable.
How can we get around this? 

#1 - One way to get around it? To make your own. There are tons of recipes out there. Some make sense, some don't. Here is a link where one person compared commercial laundry soap to 4 "home made" recipes.

This recipe seemed to work the best:

½ cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
3 gallons water
5-gallon bucket with a lid

1. Using a box grater, grate the entire bar of Fels-Naptha soap. You’ll end up with a pile of little soap curls. 
2. Pour 4 cups of water into a large pot and bring to a boil, then lower the heat until it’s simmering. Add the entire pile of grated soap, handful by handful, and stir with a wooden spoon until it’s all dissolved.
3. Pour 3 gallons of water into your bucket. (Make sure the bucket is clean first.) Pour in the borax, washing soda, and pot of soap; stir until dissolved.

4. Cover the bucket and let the mixture sit for 24 hours.

The mixture will be a little clumpy, so give it a good stir before using. The globs will dissolve in the washing machine anyway. Use 1 cup of detergent per regular-size load. Makes 52 loads.

Cost per load: 7 cents

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#2 About a year ago I talked about soap nuts (found here They are so easy! They clean! And they are so cute! I could just pinch their cheeks... if they had any. 

Here is another recipe with using soap nuts even for SHAMPOO!!! Crazy!!

#3 Make your own soap

Many many years ago, the pioneers made their own soap with the fat from a slaughtered pig (yummo) and ashes from their fire. We can follow their example...but in a little less messy way :) . Three simple ingredients and a few pieces of equipment can get you started. 

When it comes to being self-reliant with your clothes detergent you can avoid some health problems by not having these chemicals in your clothes that you wear every day. When we are able to break away from purchasing the "easy" and make our own for "better", we often find ourselves blessed in more than one way. 

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