Wash With Conscience: Strategies For A Sustainable Laundry Routine

Did you know that conventional detergents not only harm the environment, but also our health? Discover eco-sustainable alternatives to wash your clothes with environmental responsibility .

Woman using washing machine

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LatinAmerican Post | Julieta Gutiérrez

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In our daily routine, the act of washing clothes seems natural and necessary. However, we rarely reflect on the impact this has on both the environment and our own health. Fortunately, a community emerged that advocates a different approach: avoiding frequent washing of garments, including our beloved jeans. In this article, we'll explore how to minimize the impact of chemicals and environmental damage associated with doing laundry, while taking care of our health.

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One event that captures the attention of fashion and sustainability lovers is the Indigo Invitational. This competition challenges participants to wear unwashed jeans for an extended period, seeking to create unique fade-and-wear patterns. The premise? Avoid excessive washing to preserve the appearance and quality of the garment. This trend is even supported by well-known figures such as fashion designer Stella McCartney, who maintains that it is not necessary to wash clothes every day to keep them fresh and in good condition.

But why is minimizing laundry important? The garment washing process involves the use of chemical products that can have a negative impact on the environment, contaminating water and contributing to the proliferation of microplastics. Also, some detergents and fabric softeners contain chemicals that can be harmful to our health in the long run.

What's behind conventional fabric softeners and detergents?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), used to create foam, can cause skin irritation. Titanium dioxide, used for bleaching, is associated with central nervous system problems. Detergents often contain sodium benzene sulfonate, known as linear alkylbenzene sulfonates (LAS), which break down slowly. The most commonly used preservatives, such as isothiazolinones, can be toxic by inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact, causing burns, allergic reactions, and harm aquatic life.

These polluting detergents can affect aquatic flora and fauna, inhibiting photosynthesis, and also cause injury and death to fish.

As for softeners, the reality is not encouraging. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, many fabric softeners contain harmful chemicals ; such as benzene, which can be toxic and carcinogenic. Plus, other problematic ingredients, like phthalates, which are linked to hormonal disruption and damage to the reproductive system.

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Also, quaternary ammonium compounds can affect respiratory health and indoor air quality, and synthetic fragrances present in fabric softeners can cause skin irritations and allergies ; in addition to causing contamination of water and soil. So, what can we do to wash clothes with environmental responsibility and at the same time take care of our health?

Ecological alternatives for sustainable laundry

There are a variety of sustainable approaches we can take to reduce our environmental footprint and promote a more responsible lifestyle. Learn about the strategies and practical advice to achieve eco-friendly laundry, minimizing chemical products and preserving both the environment and our own health.

Powdered vegetable detergents

These detergents, made from natural ingredients, are a great option for those who want to avoid traditional cleaning products. Two popular choices are washing nut powders and soap root powders. Soap root is a medicinal plant known for its detergent and degreasing properties, which gave it the nickname "soap plant" due to the presence of saponin in its roots. The amazing thing about this plant is its ability to produce foam effectively.

If you want to make your own sustainable detergent using soap roots, you can follow these simple steps: mix 100 g of soap roots with 1 liter of water, grind the mixture with a blender, boil for 15 minutes, let stand for a few hours and finally Filter the resulting liquid to use it as a liquid detergent. In this way, you can enjoy an environmentally friendly method of washing clothes based on natural ingredients.

Natural softeners

Citric acid is an alternative to soften clothes naturally, because it is respectful with the environment and does not contain artificial fragrances or dyes. This substance is present in fruits such as lemon, orange and even peach, it is known to be an acidifying agent and pH regulator. It also has very effective softening properties for washing clothes. If you want to try it, you can make your own homemade fabric softener by dissolving 10 g of citric acid in 100 ml of water. Then, simply pour the resulting mixture into the softener compartment of your washing machine. In this way, you can enjoy soft garments treated with a natural product.

Another natural fabric softener that can be very effective is vinegar. If you want softer clothes without using conventional fabric softeners that contain harsh chemicals and leave residues on fabrics, here's an easy trick: Add a small amount of vinegar to the fabric softener compartment of your washing machine. The vinegar will not only soften your clothes, but it will also help remove any remaining detergent residue. In this way, you can enjoy soft clothes that are free of unwanted chemicals.

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