How do I make my whites whiter?

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

June 27, 2008

If you can’t use bleach to make your laundry shine, what should you use? The answer: vinegar and baking soda.

In the previous post, I described three items to have in your home for everyday cleaning: vinegar, baking soda, and soap. We do have additional cleaning items, such as a specific laundry soap (BioKleen), and I even have a specific toilet bowl cleaner (Ecover). There are some things to keep in mind that I learned the hard way.

I have suffered from eczema for almost ten years now. The first five years of having this skin condition, I did not know what it was. By accident, though, I found that by not using products with scent or dye, my skin was simply happier. Soon, I found myself replacing Tide with All Free and Clear. I like static free laundry, so the dryer sheet was replaced with a dye-free, perfume-free variety. Over time, I gravitated to biodegradable products, such as BioKleen and Ecover (Lord knows there are others!), and found that I could do lightly scented things, but it had to be natural.

Research showed me that city-dwellers have higher incidences of allergy than those who grow up on the farm, more specifically, people who grow up with livestock like cows. Some conjectures drawn from these findings are that we keep things too clean in the city, and our exposure to allergens is fewer than those living in rural settings, so we don’t allow our bodies to build up proper immunity. Allergies include asthma, seasonal allergies, and skin conditions like eczema. As stated above, one way to remedy these irritations is to get back to basics in cleaning.

So, if we shouldn’t use bleach to clean because it’s poisonous and kills too many good things, it brings us back to the question of what we should use. For our laundry, we use the standard measurement of BioKleen (which happens to be highly concentrated and cost less in the end because you use less) with baking soda and vinegar in the bleach spout. Try a tablespoon of vinegar at a time.

Having a baby has shown us that there are some stains you do want removed, and for those tougher stains we use Ecover’s stain stick. Lately, though, that hasn’t been very much because the regular routine works fine.


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