1. Make Your Own Soap
Regular detergents we use for our laundry can be much more harmful than we think – to our clothes, to our health and to the ecosystems where our dirty water ends up.
Detergents are not biodegradable and contain phosphates that lead to algal blooms, which can harm aquatic and marine ecosystems. They also contain sulphates, synthetic fragrances and petroleum distillates which have been linked to lung disease and known to be carcinogens.
To avoid these health and environmental hazards, try making your own soap with three simple ingredients – washing soda, borax and bar soap.
Washing soda, otherwise known as sodium carbonate, is similar in chemical structure to sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda. Used as a water softener, it prevents the magnesium and calcium ions bonding with detergent.
Borax, technically known as sodium tertraborate or sodium borate, is a natural mineral compound found deep underground in China and the United States. It doesn’t contain phosphates or any ingredients harmful to washing machines or other household machineries. Borax’s washing power comes from its ideal pH of 9.5, the level at which detergents are most effective.
A natural bar soap such as Dr Bronner’s is the last ingredient in the home-made detergent, bringing its cleaning power to the mix.
The first step is to put the soap in a food processor until ground finely. The second step is to mix one part of soap with double the amount of washing soda and double the amount of Borax. Store the mixture in a closed container. Use a heaped tablespoon of the mix per load of laundry.
You can find a whole host of soap recipes listed here.
2. Make Your Own Liquid Soap
Some people prefer a liquid laundry soap that they can simply pour into the soap tray of their washing machine. If you are one of those people, try this simple recipe to make your own liquid soap and save your health and money.
As in the above recipe, process a bar of natural soap until finely ground. Then gradually heat this soap in a pan with 2 quarts of water, and stir until the soap is dissolved in the water.
Then mix 1 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of borax into 4.5 gallons of hot (not boiling water) until dissolved. Pour the first mixture into the second mixture and stir. Cover the mixture and leave overnight to cool.
The next day, stir the mixture until smooth and pour into containers. Use less than 1 cup per load of laundry.
3. Make Your Own Bleach
Chlorine-based bleaches have been a laundry mainstay to keep whites white and remove staining for as long as we can remember. However, the hazardous effects of bleach are coming to light and spurring consumers to find more healthy and ecological alternatives.
Bleach can irritate allergies, asthma and cause serious and even life-threatening respiratory issues. Beyond that, it can cause nervous system damage, burns on the skin and can be fatal if ingested.
Those determined to find healthy alternatives will be glad to learn that natural methods can be just as effective as harmful chemicals. To make your own bleach, combine 3 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide, a cup of lemon juice, 20-30 drops of lemon essential oil and enough water to make up two gallons. Shake to activate. Add a cup to your white cycles to prevent your whites from fading.
4. Make Your Own Fabric Softener
Fabric softener may seem innocent, but is in fact full of harmful chemicals that have been linked to respiratory problems, central nervous system damage and cancer. The odors of these chemicals are masked with artificial fragrances. To make the clothes feel soft, the chemicals deposit a thin layer of lubrication on their surface, but this isn’t good for our skin or for the life of our clothes.
To make your own natural alternative, mix two cups of Epsom salt or coarse sea salt with 30 drops of essential oil and stir. Then add half a cup of baking soda and mix. This will produce a crystalline mixture that will make your clothes feel fresh and soft. Put the mixture in an air-tight container. When you’re ready to use, add 3 tablespoons in the washer drum with your clothes before the rinsing cycle.
For even more step by step detail have a read of this article on wiki how.
5. Try Out Soap Nuts
Soap nuts are a natural nut that grow on soap nut trees and are native to Nepal and India. Suitable for those with chemical allergies, their use in Ayurvedic medicine as an eczema and psoriasis treatment is great news for those with sensitive skin. The saponin contained in soap nuts is a natural detergent and is released by the shell when wet.
To use, simply put 5 soap nuts in a muslin bag and place in the washer drum of your machine and begin the wash cycle as usual. Hang the bag of soapnuts out to try before you store them away. They can be reused until the shells become grey and soft, then composted.
6. Use A Solar Water Heater
If you live in an area with adequate sunlight, installing a solar water heater might save you money as well as utilizing sustainable energy. Instead of relying on expensive electricity to heat up your water, harness the free power that the sun can give you in order to wash your clothes.
Often sold and installed by the same company, a single solar panel is installed, typically with water pipes that run through it, so that hot water will be available to you at all times without putting a dent in your wallet or using valuable fossil fuels.
7. Adopt Energy-Efficient Laundry Practices
It is not always necessary to use hot water to get clothes washed efficiently. 90% of the energy used in washing clothes is used in heating up the water. If you have the occasional heavily stained load that require a warm wash, a gas water heater works out to be far more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Your choice of washing machine can make a big difference, too. A front-load washer can save up to 40% of water usage, both slashing your bills and securing your green credentials.