September 19th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
We’ve talked about different ways to soften fabrics when you wash and dry your clothes (plant-derived dryer sheets), as well as products to avoid (toxic, beef fat-infused dryer sheets and laundry balls).
I’ve also reported on ways to green your washing machine, the importance of ENERGY STAR-rated washers and eco-friendly dryers.
Today, I’ll conclude this series with a look at two of the most low-tech, yet effective, ways to soften fabrics:
- Organic distilled white vinegar
- Baking soda
According to Deirdre Imus (yes, she’s Don’s wife), author of Green This! Volume One: Greening Your Cleaning:
Distilled white vinegar, preferably organic, is the best and healthiest softener. Just put a tablespoon in the rinse cycle, as you would any of the toxic fabric softeners. (Don’t overdo it—you don’t want your clothes to smell like vinegar!) Your clothes will come out soft every time.
In lieu of vinegar, add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the wash cycle, she says.
If you want your clothes to smell nice, add a few drops of your favorite organic essential oil to your washer’s rinse cycle, notes Imus, founder and president of the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. As an alternative, place a few drops on a washcloth, and toss it into the dryer with your clothes.
Also by Deirdre Imus
Read More:Drying with Deirdre
September 17th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
While researching Monday’s piece on laundry balls, I came across another interesting bit of information on dryer sheets.
According to Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, authors of Squeaky Green: The Method Guide to Detoxing Your Home:
Beef fat (aka tallow) is the secret ingredient that makes your clothes so soft. The very stuff you cut off your steak so you won’t gain weight or clog your arteries is coating your sheets, towels, shirts, jeans, even your underwear.
Ryan and Lowry, who founded the Method brand of nontoxic cleaners, recommend eco-friendly vegan dryer sheets that are made from plant-derived substances like canola oil. You can even reuse the sheets as dust cloths after you’ve finished your laundry, they say.
Method makes Squeaky Green Dryer Cloths. Another option is Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Dryer Sheets. Both products are available at natural and organic food stores.
Read More:Beef Fat in Your Laundry?
September 15th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
We want our laundry to feel soft and smell fresh, but traditional dryer sheets are not the answer. As noted in A Partner in Grime:
Dryer sheets contain artificial fragrances and carcinogenic chemicals ranging from ethanol to formaldehyde, so avoid using them. In addition to posing health hazards, they can leave a film on your dryer’s filter that reduces air flow. Over time, this can impair the motor’s performance.
You may have seen laundry balls and discs at your local natural and organic food store, which are promoted as long-lasting, eco-friendly solutions. But there’s a catch, according to Jill Potvin Schoff, author of Green Up Your Cleanup.
“Dryer balls used as fabric softeners do work,” she writes, “but they are made out of PVC, a plastic you want to avoid.”
Click here for more information on the perils of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Read More:Laundry Balls