Laundry detergent

This may seem like a stupid thing to blog about, but I’ve finally switched laundry detergents. I’m tired of buying something that, while it works well, is known to contain a bunch of chemicals that are harmful to the environment both during production and when released into the wastewater stream (or septic system, for some of you).

Here’s a page that has some fairly basic info about the common ingredients of standard detergents: http://www.laundry-alternative.com/detergentsinfo.htm. And here is EPA’s summary of some of them: http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/laundry/techfact/keychar.htm. Other than the obvious concerns about the toxins created during production of these chemicals and the low degradation of some of these materials once released into the environment, there’s also the issue of chemicals infusing our clean clothes and constantly rubbing against our skin. Some sensitive persons are even allergic to clothes washed with standard laundry detergent.

So I resolved to buy something better for the environment and for all of us, but not too expensive and at least similar in cleaning performance. And I’ve started using this Amazon.com scheduled delivery thing (mainly because I love drinking Slim Fast strawberry shakes for breakfast, and that powder is expensive and sometimes hard to find locally). So I settled on this product from Seventh Generation. Actually, I bought the lavender-scented variety, but that’s currently unavailable from Amazon.

A case of four bottles showed up a few days later via UPS. We’ve used it a few times so far this week, and it seems good. It definitely smells better — a very light, natural lavender scent replaces the chemical smell of Tide or whatever. It seems to clean well. From what I can tell by poking around online, the company has done a reasonably good job of developing this product with a good balance of price, performance and sustainability. As one reviewer pointed out, a couple of the ingredients are mined, so it’s not all plants and good feeling. But this looks pretty damn good in comparison to what we were using before.

One note from the label on the bottle: typical detergents use petroleum based-ingredients. I haven’t seen a well-to-water-treatment-plant comparison on these things, but assuming transportation and other petroleum impacts of production and distribution are equal, using a non-petroleum-based detergent could save a lot of oil. It seems that every portion of the political spectrum in this country gives lip service, at least, to saving oil — for various reasons. So try some of this stuff.