No illusions about my Eco Friendly Laundry

optical brighteners, no thanks

optical brighteners, no thanks

Read a book this morning with my little girl about a boy who put a red coat in the washing machine and turned all his Dad’s washing red. The coat had shrunk, which was a good thing, as it had been bought from a charity shop and was initially far too big. What astounded me was the reaction of Mum and Dad. No shouting. No reprimands. No tantrum from Dad about having to wear a pink shirt, pink boxers and pink socks to work. Just smiles all round that the coat was now the right size. Bizarre.

It set me thinking about the lengths people go to to keep whites white, colours bright and now even blacks black. New and improved laundry products promise us much. But at what cost?

Most conventional detergents contain an optical brightener, a chemical which reflects light, making your clothes look brighter than they really are. Magic. But let’s be clear, they do not increase the cleanness or the hygiene of your wash.

However, optical brighteners are only effective if they remain on the fabric after washing.
They make an irreversible chemical bond with the skin and skin rashes blamed on perfumes and dyes can actually be caused by this ingredient of illusion. Who knows what affect they are having on the rest of us? Time will possibly tell.

Moreover, optical brighteners contain chemicals that can be toxic to fish and other animal and plant life. Both Bio-d and Ecover’s laundry products contain no optical brighteners. They cause on average ten times less damage to the natural world than conventional products. They are readily biodegradable, with minimum impact on aquatic life.

As if that wasn’t enough, we can experience the positive benefits of unperfumed plant based ingredients with no harmful chemical residues. Maybe it’s time to rethink what we mean by clean. Do we want clothes that appear cleaner? It’s all an illusion. Or do we want our clothes cleaned with the minimum harmful impact to our own skin and the natural world around us? Your choice.

One clear word of advice though: when your child brings that particular reading book home from school, use it as an opportunity to explain the need for sorting washing before you too end up with a new pink wardrobe.

Image via Flickr

You may also like...