Laundry matters

Recycla learned a very important lesson this week. Actually, it’s a lesson she had already learned once, but apparently it didn’t stick the first time.

Recycla has been having some laundry woes this spring, in the form of clothes that still smell bad even after they’ve been washed. Specifically, her running gear, her husband’s soccer and biking gear, and her kids’ athletic clothes. After discussing things with her running friends on Twitter, she decided to try some new laundry detergents to deal with the stinkle.

A few years ago, Recycla switched from conventional laundry detergents and experimented with different organic versions. Conventional brands contain harsh chemicals and strong scents that are bad for humans and the environment. And, in Recycla’s household, both she and one of her daughters have very sensitive skin and other allergies, so they have to be careful with what they use on their skin and their clothes.

Recycla’s favorite eco laundry detergents are Zum, Seventh Generation, and Method. Unfortunately, Recycla’s husband does not like these detergents and does not feel that they do a sufficient job of cleaning the family’s dirty clothes, sheets, and towels, so there has been a back-and-forth tug o’ war between husband and wife over laundry matters for the past few years. For a while, they compromised by using a conventional detergent that is scent- and dye-free; however, neither Recycla nor her husband has been totally satisfied with this one either. It’s the worst of both worlds — it’s not organic, nor does it do a great job with cleaning their laundry.

Getting back to the stinky athletic clothes, Recycla perused the laundry aisle at her local Target and decided to try a brand that was conventional, but at least was concentrated, so far less detergent was needed for each load. Unfortunately, the detergent contained a very strong perfume that lingered and could be smelled long after the clean laundry was folded and put away. Recycla wasn’t pleased with the scent, but at least her running clothes didn’t reek before she even went for a run.

Last weekend, both of Recycla’s daughters developed strange rashes on various parts of their bodies.  One daughter, as mentioned before, has allergies, but since the other daughter also developed a rash, Recycla assumed that the girls had picked up some horrible disease. She called the pediatrician and took the girls in for an appointment. The doctor took one look at the girls and asked if they were using a new soap or lotion or laundry detergent. Yep, both girls are allergic to the new, heavily-perfumed laundry detergent. Recycla isn’t throwing the stuff out, but she’ll save it for when she washes cleaning rags and other things that won’t be touching her family’s skin.

So now Recycla is on the hunt for a new detergent — one that will actually clean and remove the smells left by running, biking, soccer, and other sports, while containing no strong perfumes or harsh chemicals. She honestly doesn’t know what laundry detergent will offer all of the above, so is hoping that her fellow Eco Warriors will have some suggestions.

Tell the Eco Women: What do you use to wash your clothes? Are you happy with this product?

The Eco Women are not employed by any of the companies mentioned, nor were they asked to do review their products. Photo credits: Yahoo Images.

14 thoughts on “Laundry matters

  1. Vinegar is my best friend in the laundry room…and I have some pretty stinky laundry with a ranch, teenagers and a machinist. I use it in combination with my organic laundry detergent and it adds the extra oomph I was missing. I use the amount of detergent called for and then fill the cap with vinegar to the top for especially stinky loads and drop the whole thing in!

  2. What about using non-chlorine bleach with your laundry detergent for smelly loads? Seventh Generation makes a fragrance- and dye-free non-chlorine bleach, and using non-chlorine bleach in conjunction with laundry detergent usually works for my smelly workout clothes.

    • Jen, I am using Seventh Gen’s non-chlorine bleach now with our laundry, plus making sure to wash my running stuff the same day I stink it up. It’s helping a lot.

  3. I use soap nuts. I soak 4 of them in a jar, about 18 ounces, of hot water, and use about 1/4 of the water per load. I use slightly larger amounts of the soap nut liquid for the 1st and 2nd loads since I leave the soap nuts in the liquid, so it continues to get stronger.

  4. I have the same problem. We have an energy efficient machine and it doesn’t seem to remove the stink – from towels, in particular – that regular machines do. I’ve heard the vinegar suggestion before, as per @Judy, but I’m not sure where to add it on my machine since it’s front loading. If anyone has ideas, I’d love to hear them, too!

  5. I discovered, quite by accident while window shopping for a new washing machine, a laundry detergent sold in Europe, called “Persil”. It has a scent that does NOT give me a headache (can’t use a lot of items because of scents giving me headaches) and it cleans clothes unbelievably clean. It’s got a claim to fame for getting whites white again, old, gray looking, washed and dried for ages, white again. I took it to the test in that my husband’s T-shirts were dingy, and ready to be thrown out due to their color.

    So, verdict? Persil wins hands down. I tried finding it online, to see if I could get it cheaper (it’s SO expensive to buy here in the USA) but only found an online store in New Jersey that was cheaper than anywhere else. I took that online price to my local appliance store (that sells Persil but for much more) and they matched the online price, and keeping it with my name, in their computer system, so that twice a year (it’s an indulgence that I allow myself) I can buy the huge box of it, and still get the cheaper price.

    I have looked online for reviews of this stuff, and it is not only me that thinks this soap is better in every single way, over American brands. It just is. I know there is a chemical in it that makes the clothes come out cleaner, and using way less of it, but I can’t remember what that is.

    I also ADORE the scent. It is light, almost unnoticable, but to me, no headache, and I actually enjoy pulling my clothes out of my 14 yr old front loader, to be caught by a whiff of Persil . . .

  6. Just looked up Persil on Wiki–very interesting info there. I think you’d enjoy it Jen. There are 2 distributors/manufacturers of this product–and the only one we can buy here in the US is the German version of Persil.

    My opinion is that if Persil were available here in the US (not imported with jaw dropping price tags) alongside our other laundry products, Tide, Cheer, etc, would go out of business. Persil does such an outstanding, amazing job at cleaning laundry, there really would be no competition. What sold me is how it cleaned my already almost ready to be given away clothes, brought them back “to life” so to speak. That’s why I indulge myself 2 times per year. I never get tired of seeing this “miracle” happen!

  7. I’m with Judy – Vinegar is your friend. Although I use method (free, HE) and never have a problem getting the stink out. And um, I tend to wash my running clothes much less frequently than I ought. (Hey, I run on my treadmill – the only one that stank is going to bother is me. I’m lazy and would rather stink more than do laundry more.) I wonder if water differences might be the difference?

  8. I use Seventh Gen and we have soft water, so maybe that helps…we’ve never had any issues with getting things clean to my standards and I’m like you–NO SMELLS!

  9. @Mowenackie Just put the vinegar in the softener compartment. It will release itself at rinse but normailly, it’s what you want.

    As for me, aside from vinegar, I use baking soda. I just sparkle some on in the loads that would need it. I also use the sun! ;o) Seriously you could be surprise at the amount of smell the sun is able to wipe out of your laundy. Plus, it’s even cheaper than vinegar or baking soda!

    My laudry detergent is Lemieux. It’s a locally made brand that makes 100% biedegradable stuff and I chose it because it’s fragrance free. I’m VERY sensitive to fragrance, not my skin but my nose! :o) It’s also cool to know that there is not nasty stuff in there that will get on your skin and that’s eco-friendly because not only it’s biodegradable but it’s sold in bulk. I’m not sure it’s the best one in the world but it’s the best for me where I live because I don’t want to start to buy laundry detergent online! The only issue I had for the moment is that my cloth pads are starting to be less absorbant but I don’t know if it’s really my laundry detergent that’s the culprit.

  10. I just ordered soap nuts, so I’m going to give those a shot. Right now, I use Seventh Generation for laundry detergent. But I fight odors by filling a spray bottle with white vinegar and about a 1/2 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil and then give the laundry about 15 sprays before drying.

  11. I use soap nuts. I got a HUGE bag of them and shouldn’t need to buy laundry soap for a few years. I love them. They get my clothes super clean and my husband and I both have lots of allergies and both have done great with it.

    Also soap nuts are great for preventing mold in HE washers.

  12. We use Persil!!! Or Ariel. I’ve never thought about the chemical content – they’re the detergents that my Mum’s always used on our washing from when we were little. I always had sensitive skin and Persil or Ariel have always been great. Rubbish that you can’t get it easily over in the US. Clearly a gap in the market!

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