There really is nothing like a load of laundry, fresh from the dryer.
Many years ago, I splurged on my laundry like some people splurge on ice cream. Several scents of detergent, all the fancy fabric softeners and dryer sheets. My laundry was soft and bouncy and it smelled great. So, so great.
It was also toxic.
To be honest, I never much cared when I was the only one in the house. Sure, I had read the magazine articles touting the dangers. A friend of mine, one of those crunchy granola eating new mothers tried to warn me, but I just shrugged it off. Hippies, alarmists and kill joys – the whole lot of them! I was washing my clothes, not cooking meth. How bad could it really be?!
It could be worse than I initially thought.
Studies have shown that all those chemicals that make your laundry smell great, really aren’t very good for you at all. One study found that many laundry products are a source of more than 25 “volatile” air pollutants – including the carcinogens acetaldehyde and benzene. Benzene causes leukemia and other blood cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Acetaldehyde has been shown to cause nasal and throat cancer in animal studies. Scary stuff. Cancer seems like a pretty high price to pay for fluffy towels and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Chemicals in laundry products have also been linked to organ toxicity, reproductive changes, neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, skin irritation and any number of other issues.
It wasn’t until we got Felix that I started to care.
Felix changed everything. How we lived, how we spent our time, what we ate and even how we do laundry. My poor little Fluff is the sweet thing on the planet, but that boy is allergic to everything. In the quest to make sure that his allergies weren’t being aggravated by my laundry love, we switched to a more natural, healthier way of doing laundry and we never looked back.
Here’s a little peek at the Casa de Kolchak Laundry List:
Getting Your Clothes Clean
- Use a good, natural laundry soap – It’s harder than you imagine to find a good, safe laundry detergent – even when you buy a so called “natural” brand. Always read the labels! We prefer one that relies on natural enzymes, rather than soaps to work their magic. (Ad at the end aside, this post has a lot of good info on how to choose a good soap.)
- You can even make your own laundry soap from washing powder, borax and natural soap, if you have the time and the motivation. (Kol’s Note: I don’t do this since I can barely keep up as it is. Instead, I choose to pay a bit more for a good natural detergent that I trust.)
- A friend of ours swears by Soap Nuts. What are they? Soap nuts are actually the berries of the Sapindus mukorossi tree of northern India and Nepal. The shell contains natural saponins (soap). Just 1/2 oz. of soap nuts can wash 5 – 8 loads of laundry, so they’re a natural solution and a cost effective one.
Stain Removers & Bleach Alternatives
- Get your whites whiter without the use of harsh chemicals. We use a lot of solutions here, but one of our favourites is to let the sun work it’s magic. We love to soak our whites in a basin of water + vinegar, then hang them in the sun to dry. While this won’t take care of the worst stains, it will bright up clothing that needs a lift.
- Tackle stains with this tried and true stain remover. Mix 1 tsp Dawn with 3-4 tbsp peroxide and 2 tbsp baking soda. Use a laundry brush to work this mix into the stain. Let it sit for an hour or so, then wash as usual. It’s even safe on darker fabrics. (This is also amazeballs on carpet stains, like muddy paw prints.)
Softness, static & making it smell good
- Did you know adding 1/2 cup of vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle can soften your clothes? I swear it works and that it doesn’t leave the laundry smelling like fish & chips. Scout’s honour. Plus, since it actually neutralizes odors, vinegar is great for taking the stench out of the Daddy’s smelly gym clothes.
- Dryer Balls are your friend. We’ve tried two kinds of dryer balls: foil & wool. While the foil ones are no doubt economical (just ball up a sheet of aluminum foil), I definitely prefer the wool ones. You can buy them pre-made, but I made mine. For around $5, I made enough dryer balls to last me a very long time. It’s super easy too. Subscribe to the Weekly Woof Newsletter or come back next week and I’ll tell you all about how to make them.
- Essential oils smell better than chemical scents. Do you know why I love the wool dryer balls? They’re the perfect way to add a lovely scent to your laundry. I have a few balls that I have liberally sprinkled with essential oil. I run the dryer on the cool cycle for the last half hour with these scented balls tossed in and it’s magical. (Smell This! Aromatherapy makes some awesome scented oil blends and some of my favourite dog products around.)
- Stubborn static cling can be nixed in an instant with a safety pin. Even with all this, I have a few wool skirts that are staticy and awful, but way too cute to toss. One of those itty bitty dollar store metal safety pins hidden in the hem knocks static flat. For loads that tend to be staticy like wool sweaters or fleece blankets, a couple safety pins pinned to your clothes before you load them into the dryer can solve the problem.
Sure, doing laundry the dog friendly way can take a bit more time. It’s not as easy as pouring some goo into the machine and forgetting about it, but every time I see Koly walk up to the freshly cleaned clothes, inhale deep and snuggle up to them, it’s all worth it. Every time Felix makes a fort out of the clean towels, I’m glad I do it. After all, if that junk is toxic for me, it’s definitely toxic for them.