why scent your clothes like a fresh breeze
Mundane tasks can be a meditation; folding clothes, doing dishes, sweeping. Being conscious as to what you’re actually doing and how it may connect to everything else can be a part of the meditation. Be thankful to have some comfort and let’s be conscious a bit about how we wash our clothes and what effects it has when making its way through the environment.
What is distressing about the modern way we do laundry is the synthetic detergents we expose ourselves to, and the impact, not only in carbon footprint, but the on water systems (here’s a nice long read about water pollution). The petrochemical solvent 1,4 dioxane is the disconcerting ingredient in Tide, which has made news lately as concerned consumers question why carcinogens are so nonchalantly making their way into our households.
Some will say, ‘oh you win some you lose some’ or that ‘the media always sensationalizes everything’. Though this may be true at times, I hope that it would appeal to our instincts to choose a natural product using natural ingredients as opposed to one laced with harmful chemicals. So what they’ll get the grass stain out of your daughter’s white shorts. Be creative, paint a flower over it if you really can’t get the stain out. Our waterways are forever more important than a pair of shorts.
My personal opinion is this: the main concern of these companies is simple… $$$$$$$$. It’s not you, the environment or your family. To find the cheapest way to make you think you are getting what you think you want is their aim. Therefore that bottom line increases and CEO’ s get to buy another yacht or something. Never mind the rash your child gets or the headaches from the dryer sheet aromas (I have experienced both). Using a natural soap in this case is actually the cheaper method all the way down the line. Causes and effects. When we start to realize connectedness in everything from our joys to our pains we take back our humanity, our personhood. We take back our power, lessening our dependency and need to be customers and thus consumers.
Most importantly, there are natural ways to achieve the desired outcome of fresh, clean clothes that pose minimal risk to the environment, if any risk at all!
So let’s start with the soap recipe. Scouring the internets there are several variations of two basic recipes for both dry and liquid soaps. Liquid laundry detergent takes a little more time and effort to make, as well as space cause you’ll need some kind of large storage container/bucket, otherwise the ingredients are basic items you can find at any drug store or supermarket. Fabric softener=vinegar. A few drops of an essential oil on a clean washcloth in the dryer will scent your clothes. Wash in cold water. Wear things more than once. If you’re able, hang your clothes outside. The sun is a natural bleach on natural fabrics.
1 bar soap (i.e.: Ivory brand, Dr. Bronners)
Essential oil (optional)
Baking soda (optional)
Grate soap. Add to a container 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts borax, 1 part bar soap. Voila! That’s it no chemistry kit needed.
**If you’d like to add baking soda, add 2 parts. 3-4 drops of essential oil. Use 1 tbsp-2 per load.
1years supply of soap (family of four)
16 cups baking soda
12 cups borax
8 cups grated soap
3 tbsp essential oil
Use 1/8 cup per load
Directions: Grate bar of soap and put into pot of water over medium heat. ‘Cook’ until soap is dissolved. In a ten gallon bucket fill halfway with hot water. Add pot of dissolved soap, washing soda, borax and the optional ingredients. Fill the rest of the way with hot water. Stir before each use. 1/2 -1 cup per load.
««prewash stain remover»»
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup baking soda
3 cups water
Add ingredients to a spray bottle, shake before use.
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup lemon or grapefruit juice
12 cups water
Use 2 cups per load
FABRIC. You probably already know fabric comes in two types; natural and synthetic. Well, three, being that often you’ll find blends of naturals and synthetics or blends of synthetics. In all honesty using natural laundry soap will work better on natural fibers than the synthetic ones. From my experience, my synthetics and natural come out pretty clean so I haven’t noticed much of a difference.
Natural, animal based and very resilient. There are different varieties of wool that come from different animals and its functions as a natural jacket for the animal has evolved to resist wear and tear remarkably. It has the ability to absorb moisture without feeling wet to the touch and doesn’t need to be washed often.
Do’s/Don’ts: Do remove dirt or soil promptly, wash on a delicate setting, air dry. Do not rub to remove soil
Cotton’s star capabilities lay within it being apt to breathe, absorb and release moisture. It is durable, can withstand heat and very versatile. Notoriously known for the large amounts of pesticides used to grow cotton and the chemicals used to dye it, I would suggest searching for organic garments using natural dyes. Wash in warm water and can be put in a dryer or hung to dry. Ironing maintains its shape.
Resistant to wrinkles, polyester today is not the same as it was in our parent’s days, it can be almost as soft as silk. Almost. It can be easily machine washed without much worry. Polyester can scorch so drying the item too long or ironing with too hot an iron is no bueno.
I wash my RAYON or VISCOSE items by hand, in cold water. Do not ring, handle with care. Air dry. I’m not a fan of dry cleaners, as most labels will advise, washing by hand is just fine. Breathable and kind of silky. I love my striped viscose skirt because it shapes my subtle curves just right. Iron with care on low.
The method of obtaining silk is criticized by animal rights activists because the larvae is killed in order to harvest the cocoon. Ahimsa silk (following the philosophy to “not hurt any living thing”) is obtained through wild and semi-wild silk moths. Often smooth, sometimes shiny, it absorbs moisture. Clothes serve a practical purpose first and silk is known for its ability to stay cool in the day and warm at night. Handwash, cold water. Do not twist to remove water. Instead, use a towel to blot out most the water and hang to dry. Wire hangers will leave marks and the sun will fade the color.
How are you implementing greener techniques when doing laundry?
Sources for soap recipes: