I owe you an apology. I’m sorry. Two years ago, I shared a recipe for my favorite homemade laundry detergent including Borax, Washing Soda, and Fels-Naptha Soap. I had used it for several years with my own family, and I thought it was cheap, effective, and safe.
I was wrong.
The trouble is, I didn’t know I was wrong until last week. As I checked out the Environmental Working Group’s rankings for laundry products, I was completely shocked to discover that Borax received an F ranking in safety.
I thought it was safe! After all, it’s taken from the natural ingredient sodium borate. I thought my Laura Ingalls Wilder/Suzy Homemaker detergent making days were grand. I washed all of my babies’ cloth diapers in this detergent.
The trouble is with sodium borate. It IS natural, but there’s a concern that it may damage fertility and cause birth defects. Like many cleaners, it’s also known to irritate upper respiratory tracts. (The good news is it’s not a carcinogen.) You can use sodium borate to kill ants. It also kills mold. Because it’s toxic if ingested, be sure to keep Borax away from children and pets.
All the ingredients
So how do my homemade detergent recipe’s three ingredients fare?
You already know that Borax received an F.
Fels-Naptha received a C, thanks to the soap’s terpene hydrocarbons (they irritate humans, may cause cancer, and harm aquatic life) and tetrasodium etidronate (there’s evidence of biodegradation). Last year I stopped using the recipe when my family moved to a new home with a septic system and I discovered Fels-Naptha isn’t recommended for septic systems. (If you don’t have septic and aren’t put off by the average ranking, enter to win a free bar of Fels-Naptha in Accidentally Green’s latest giveaway.)
Where does that leave me?
I think I’m done making my own laundry detergent. I’ll use a moderately safe store-bought variety and will stock up on the completely natural soap nuts. I’m curious … what safe laundry detergents are you pleased with?
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