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Linda Mundorff

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January 2010

Food Handling, Cooking, and Storage

 

How Green is your Laundry Detergent?

March 2008
By Dr. Linda Mundorff, MPH,MSN,ND,RN,CNC,CTN

It's in your bathroom right now; no one is immune from it; and it is something most of us hate to deal with. What is it? It's the laundry! My 12-and13 year-old kids just started doing their own laundry (now if I could only get my husband too). The fact is, we don’t often think about the kind of laundry aids we use, as the basic assumption is that they all clean the same way. For the most part, all laundry detergents work in the same way. However I have found that some detergents are actually too strong and contain chemicals that have given me hives and irritated my son's eczema. So for me, my biggest concern has to do with the residual chemicals that remain on the clothing after the wash. For this reason I run all my clothing through two rinse cycles and I buy green.

So what makes your detergent green? To be classified as a green or healthier alternative to the chemical-laden counterparts the detergent must be dye-free, contain natural alternatives to strong chemical scents, oxygen-bleach or baking soda, instead of chlorine bleach, plant or soybean oil instead of animal-fat products, and instead of petroleum-based surfactants plant-based soaps are used. Surprisingly, the green alternative detergents are not more important than the major brands found in the grocery store. You can also find environmentally friendly fabric softeners and stain removers. Your clothes are the closest things next to your skin. Oftentimes, skin allergies can easily be traced to laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and soaps. Both my son's eczema and my hives have dramatically improved since changing our laundry aids and adding a second rinse cycle to the laundry cycle.

So before you start popping benadryl and spending money on allergy testing and dermatology appointments, look to your laundry aids. A simple change in product could save you hundreds in medical expenses. Also, most RVer's use public laundry facilities. Many studies have found that public washing machines harbor a number of bacteria. To ensure that those bacteria are not living in your clothes, spray the inside of the washing machine tub with a bleach solution of one-part bleach to ten-parts water. Wait about a minute and then wipe the tub with a paper towel so that the bleach solution doesn't bleach your clothing. Now you should be able to use the washing machine without any fear of picking up a few germs along the way!

Be Safe – Enjoy Your RV Experience!

Disclaimer: Dr. Mundorff is a Board Certified Naturopath, and not a medical doctor. The information in this column is for educational purposes only and should not be used to self-diagnose and treat diseases. Naturopathy is a complementary practice to health care and should be used in conjunction with a competent health care practitioner. Many herbal and homeopathic remedies can actually be contraindicated in many health conditions, with certain prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications. Please consult your physician before starting any alternative modalities.