Friday, December 21, 2007

Getting the Dirty out of Laundry

If you asked me my single largest task these days (other than mommying the kids) my answer would hands down be laundry. At three, my youngest daughter is full tilt into the multiple wardrobe changes a day, either because the outfit got "messed up" (dirty) or because a new idea/mood has come over her.

So laundry was one of the first things I started investigating as an area to improve our green. Many people advocated washing in cold water to save energy. My concern with this was could cold water get out all the stains my kids got on their clothes? The answer---after many different trials---was not as well as warm water. So I continue to wash the kids' clothes in warm water with a cold rinse. My rationalization consolation is that I have a low water energy efficient washer.

However, cold water works fine for my clothes and most of my husbands. Some of his things have to go in with the kids. As an architect who is frequently at the construction site, he can get as dirty if not more so than the kids.

I did switch detergents. When I bought my washer and dryer, I got a year's worth of free laundry soap. Tide. I think Tide is fine, but I think Method is better.'s Housekeeping guide gave it four and a half out of five stars and explained
Method laundry detergent takes up less space in your home and accomplishes the same cleaning power. This laundry detergent contains active enzymes and allows stains and soil to be broken down. The laundry detergent from Method is fresh and leaves clothing smelling great. Method doesn't contain phosphates. It is biodegradable and is never tested on animals.

It's a safer product to use---earth, animal and human friendly---and it works better.

These are the ingredients:

blend of naturally derived and biodegradable surfactants
corn alcohol
potassium hydrate
non-toxic solvent
sodium borate
natural enzymes
biodegradable brightening agent
fragrance oil blend
preservative (under 0.1%)
purified water

Less water needed to dilute, less packaging required so less for landfills, safer ingredients, no animal testing and excellent cleaning ability is a perfect match for us. Now I just need to convince my daughter one outfit per day is okay, and hope she doesn't notice that I keep slipping the "barely worn" things back into her closet.

I also switched to Method dryer sheets. Many people tell me dryer sheets are unnecessary and maybe one day I'll take that step, but in the meantime, these dryer sheets don't emit toxins and are earth-planet-and human friendly too. They don't use animal tallow.

Take a look at your laundry and the detergent and dryer sheets you use and see what improvements you can make.

As a postscript to this, I caught a commercial on television about Tide and its campaign Loads of Hope. Tide sends an 18-wheeler filled with front-loader washing machines and dryers to disaster areas to wash laundry for displaced people. They washed thousands of loads for Katrina affected people, and are now in California washing for people displaced by the fire.

On the commercial, grateful recipients rave about how great Tide is and how much it means to them to have clean clothes. I can appreciate that sentiment.

The way you help is by purchasing a vintage Tide t-shirt. The Web site says all proceeds go to helping families affected by disaster.

It sounds good but I can't help but recall the breast cancer bracelets and how much of that money actually went to breast cancer.

I tried to do some research but didn't hit the right channels. Does anyone know how effective this campaign is? Does the money go to the washing program or to the people to use to rebuild? Or both? Many thanks for any information.

cross-posted at Moms Speak Up

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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