When it comes to finding the best detergent to clean your clothes, are you the kind of shopper who prioritises price, effectiveness against tough stains, environmental impact, or all three? What if we told you our range of eco-friendly laundry products delivers all three, with a range of different brands each offering its own line of unique and innovative laundry solutions?
With so many laundry detergents lining the shelves, each boasting different sustainability promises which range from eco friendly formulas to plastic free packing and zero waste recycling, it can be a bit of a minefield identifying the products best suited to your end goal and to the protection of our environment.
But what is it about laundry detergent that makes it such a controversial topic in the conversation of environmental impact and eco-friendly household products?
Exploring the world of laundry detergent
If you picture the shelves of your local supermarket, you should be able to spot at least three different variations of laundry detergent – not least in brand, but also in the delivery of the product and the way it is designed to be used. Some brands use a liquid formula, while others rely on liquid filled tablets and powders.
When it comes to comparing and contrasting these different styles of detergent, the first thing you will note is that powder is the cheapest, liquid is the most expensive, and liquid-filled capsules are designed to provide a user friendly and quick way of delivering the right quantity of detergent for one wash. In terms of the environment, it becomes important to recognise both how the product is packaged and how it interacts with the water throughout the entire cleaning process and beyond.
For one thing, the plastic bottle that laundry liquid comes in is only as recyclable and the brand makes it – and even then, there is a strong reliance on consumers choosing to take the time to separate the lid from the bottle and recycle the two items correctly. Capsules filled with liquid detergent are encased within a water-soluble polymer substance which is designed to melt away during the wash process and expose the encased concentrated liquid to the wash. Powder, meanwhile, comes in a cardboard box and so is much more likely to be easily recycled - however the powder substance itself can become prone to blocking the pipes of your laundry machine over time.
Of course, there are new product types entering the market all the time, and it is through the creation of products like the Tru Earth laundry strips and the Clothes Doctor eco wash liquid in its metal container that we can start to explore and understand how we can still achieve high end results without adding to the environmental crisis. But it isn’t all about formation and detergent make-up when it comes to eco-friendly and sustainable laundry products.
The environmental damage caused by laundry detergent
This is where the chemical ingredients of laundry detergent come in. Before we dive into what these are, it’s first useful to remind ourselves of why we like certain detergents and what it is that we look for in a high quality product. For most of us, clean and fresh-smelling clothes are the end goal – and any organic or natural ingredients we see on the label are an added bonus. But did you know that many of the ingredients you don’t recognise on the label of your favourite detergents can actually be causing harm not only to the environment but also to your body?
Let’s start with one of the most harmful – and unfortunately, one of the most common – ingredients found in many of the leading brands of laundry detergent: 1,4 – Dioxane. Also found in paints and varnishes, this chemical is considered a human carcinogen and can actually cause everything from mild irritation on the skin and in your nose and eyes, through to damage to the liver and kidney and in limited cases can even contribute to the growth of tumours. Using a detergent with this kind of chemical in it means directly exposing yourself so the harmful chemicals and exposing the surrounding environment to any residue which runs away in the water after your wash – and that’s just one of the harmful chemicals found in the standard laundry detergent. Other examples include added perfumes, colourants, and optical brighteners which trick the eye into believing the garment is whiter than it naturally appears.
What do these substances do to the environment? In essence, the more we use them, the more they build up in the water supply and in waterways; causing algae to bloom across the surface of lakes and killing fish and other water life.
How can we prevent this environmental disaster from continuing to grow?
It all comes down to the detergent that we choose and the way that we choose to wash our clothes – after all, it’s not just the detergent itself we have to worry about when it comes to environmental impact. Now more than ever, environmental bloggers are encouraging us to use cold water in as many laundry cycles as we can; primarily because up to 90% of the energy used in every laundry cycle is used to warm the water, meaning that the energy used can be cut immensely by reducing the temperature of your wash. In fact, washing your clothes on a cold cycle can also help preserve their fabric quality and colour – making cold washing a win for everyone!
Here at Porter Valley, one of our primary goals is to introduce leading eco-friendly products which promote sustainability and organic ingredients – without impacting on the quality of results that you look for as a buyer. Laundry detergent is a product which forms an integral part of a functional family home, and while seeking the brightest and whitest results is important, so too is the preservation of our natural waterways and our health.