Sunday, August 12, 2007

Day Forty-Five - Don't Give Me Any Static

Changing My Fabric Softener

I am a HUGE Downy Fan. I love the April Fresh smell it gives my clothes, the way it softens my towels and keeps my socks from sticking to the walls of the dryer. I really debated making the switch to a "green" softener, especially when I read the benign ingredients list on the bottle: "Contains biodegradable softening agents (cationic)". Awww, biodegradable, how could that be bad?

Well, somehow I managed to find the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) on Downy Liquid and found out what some of the agents are... Imagine my surprise when the list contained Ethanol and Hydrochloric Acid. Those don't sound benign to me at all, but then again, I really don't know what they are. So I just checked out Ethanol and Hydrochloric Acid on Wikipedia. Unfortunately, I never took chemistry in high school, so I didn't really get much from reading it.

So now I've been scouring the web for half an hour looking for proof that Downy is polluting our fresh water supply and poisoning our fish, but you know what? I haven't found it yet. HOWEVER, I have found that these biodegradable fabric softening agents will infuse our clothing with additional chemicals that are toxic, flammable and, known to be irritating to skin and lungs. They are also most likely derived from petroleum and may have been tested on animals. So I guess those should be arguments enough to switch.

I chose to go with Seventh Generation's liquid fabric softener, although there are a number of "green" laundry products available. What I really wanted to get was one of those dryer balls that have all the big bumps on them, but Kroger apparently doesn't carry them. But I digress.

My new ingredient list reads: Natural fabric softener base (derived from soy or canola), whole and natural plant essences (a blend of eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint and pine essential oils), preservative (less than 0.05%), Water.

OK, I admit, I don't know what the "preservative" is, but I'm hoping the company isn't trying to BS me into buying something that has harmful chemicals. (yes, I did read Consumer Reports last month, but I liked SG's response so they have been forgiven).

Anyhow, I made the switch to something gentler than I was using before. Again, I'll be keeping any eye open for my dryer balls, which I'm sure will make a nice thump-thump-thump-thump noise in the dryer. Rumor has it they even shorten the amount of time it takes for your clothes to dry by fluffing as you tumble. Until I find them locally, though, I'll be sticking with my all-natural fabric softener.


Unsure at this point. At least the kids won't be more flammable than normal. That's good, right?

Difficulty Level 2 out of 5

OK, is it just Kroger or do all the supermarkets hide the "natural cleaning products" over in the tree-hugger, dried granola area of the store? I HATE that! It would be MUCH easier to not only FIND but COMPARE the products if they were with all the other cleaning products! I tell you, I think stores would sell more "natural" items if they shelved them where they should "naturally" be found! GRRRRRR.


Felix said...

It's me again, the simplify-your-life guy. This is another example of what I wrote about in my last email. I've never used fabric softener in my life so am not really sure why it is necessary? Ok, I guess it is a dumb question ("softener" indicates to me that they are supposed to soften clothing), but my clothes always seem to feel plenty soft and comfortable without them?

Sometimes my clothes come out of the dryer with some static (especially if I have some synthetic clothes in there... I know, synthetic clothes are bad since they are not biodegradable -- I think I should not be accepting them even though they are given to me "free" at races), but the static is usually gone after hanging up the clothes for a day or two by the time I'm ready to wear them.

Anyhow, I guess my point is I'm not sure fabric softener is necessary, and using NO softener would be a much better solution than using biodegradable softener in the first place!

Jenelle said...

ok, so I realize that I am posting this almost 2 years after you wrote this, but I figured what the heck! :) I just found your blog and I am really enjoying readin about your journey from the beginning.

Anyway, to my suggestion. Have you tried just using plain vinegar instead if fabric softner? I made the switch from downey to vinegar about 6 months ago and my family never noticed the differene.

Congratulations on making such an effort! Very inspirational.