Walk down any supermarket laundry aisle, and you're instantly overwhelmed by the various artificial chemical aromas of "fragranced" washing powder, liquids and softeners. Sometimes simply standing next to someone whose clothes have been washed in one of these toxic concoctions is enough to send me off into a coughing fit and wheezing breathlessness.
Not only do many of these products contain chemicals that are extremely harmful to the environment, they also contain chemicals that are known to be carcinogenic in humans.
There are some supposedly green alternatives out there, and indeed many of them do contain biodegradable ingredients, but a great many of them aren't as green as they claim to be. What the manufacturers don't tell us on the label is that even the "green" detergents often contain hidden nasties, such as 1,4 dioxane.
This seemingly prettily named chemical is a byproduct and a 'contaminant' of the manufacturing process and is therefore not required to be included on any labelling. A known carginogen, and linked to breast cancer, I certainly don't want 1,4 dioxane anywhere near me or my son.
The answer? Make my own laundry detergent!
Not only do I know exactly what's gone into my washing powder, it also works out considerably cheaper per load than buying the commercially produced powder, costing roughly £3 for around 40 washes.
1 x 500g box borax substitute
500g washing soda
300g Granny's soap flakes
Mix ingredients together in a box, tub or jar and add one tablespoon to your wash. For particularly troublesome items, add a further tablespoon to the pre-wash cycle.
Both washing soda and Granny's soap flakes are available at Home Bargains in the UK, and I believe the borax substitute is available at branches of John Lewis. I haven't found anywhere local to me yet that sells it so I bought mine online. For info, borax itself is no longer available for purchase in the EU, but is still available in the USA and elsewhere.
You could of course make your own soap flakes by grating up a bar of unfragranced castille soap; in the USA I think it's called ivory soap.
And there you go! A green and natural product that does just as good a job as any commercially produced washing powder :)