Home > SuperTips > Green Living Ideas > Finding Environmentally Friendly Detergents
SuperTips Categories

Share This:

Finding Environmentally Friendly Detergents

Going Green

One snag in the going green movement is finding an environmentally friendly detergent that will get clothing and dishes as clean as their more damaging predecessors do. Because manufacturers do not have to list their ingredients, it is difficult to tell what is in the detergents being used. There are, however, a few precautions that can be taken.

Stay away from phosphates

The most important step a consumer can take is to make sure that the detergents are phosphate free. Phosphates, when they are discharged into water systems, contribute significantly to algae growth and oxygen depletion. By making sure there are not phosphates in a detergent, this calamity can be avoided.

Natural labeling

Detergents that advertise themselves as “natural” are not necessarily non-toxic, and it is important to know what the dangers are. The Environmental Protection Agency, and other organizations, maintain databases on the dangers posed by different detergents. Careful research will help protect you and your family.

Go old school

There are several products that are throw backs to the pre-detergent days. One product is a material filled with ceramic chips, and it has been praised as highly effective. In effect, it replicates the ancient practice of beating clothing on a rock at the river to get them clean. What a gift: “Mom, we got you a new rock for your birthday. You don’t have to use the broken one anymore.” But seriously, clothes were being cleaned long before manufactured products were readily available. Naturally occurring soaps, borax, and baking soda can all be combined in an effective, safe, non-toxic detergent.

Other problems

There are other problems associated with commercial cleaners that are not environmentally friendly. Fragrances and other additives can trigger allergies and cause skin irritation as well. Caution should be taken when using these products.

The bright side

All is not gloom and doom, however. The demand for an environmentally friendly detergent, for both clothes and dishes, has spurred an increase in research and development in the industry, and safe products are beginning to appear. While the costs may be a little higher, their reduced impact mitigates the costs. As regards how well the products clean it must be kept in mind that there is no absolute standard, and that what is better or worse depends on what the consumer finds acceptable. When it comes to dishwashing detergent, there is many a safe, environmentally friendly detergent available for hand washing. Perhaps discarding the dishwasher may be needed.

Find local Green Living Resources