Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Homemade Fabric Softener is Healthier

Why would anyone want to switch to homemade fabric softener?  The answer to that question is both simple and disturbing.   The fresh smelling fabric softener that we all grew up with is unfortunately not good for our health.  In fact it is known to contain carcinogens (chemicals that cause cancer) and other chemicals which are not good for us or the planet.  Why don’t we all know this?  Great question and I have no idea why this information isn’t more wide-spread but it should be!

For those of you who like details I will share some specifics on the problems with fabric softeners before I tell you how you can avoid them completely and still have soft clothes.  Commercial fabric softeners generally contain the following chemicals:
  •  Benzyl acetate
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Phenol
  •  Phosphoric acid

Unless you have chemistry degree this list probably means little to you.  However with a little research you will find that these chemicals are respiratory and skin irritants, suspected carcinogens and a narcotic linked to central nervous system disorders.  That little fluffy teddy bear on the bottle doesn’t tell you any of that does he?  *tsk tsk*

Okay now we all know it is best to avoid fabric softener but how do you rinse the soap out of your clothes?  You did know that the soap residue is the biggest reason that your clothes are stiff right?  Well I didn’t know that either until I did some research but now we all know.  ;-)

There are three things which I have tried to soften my clothes without adding a commercial fabric softener and they all gave similar results.  Try them all and see which one you like.
  1. Dissolve 2 tablespoon of baking soda in 1 cup of boiling water and add it to the rinse cycle.  I combine them in a small jar so I can shake it before adding it to the machine. This is very easy and makes the water much softer which is why it works I believe. I find this to be easy and quick and the method that I use most often.
  2.  Add between 2 tablespoons and ¼ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. This also works though I swear that I can smell a little vinegar on my clothes later. Dan can’t smell anything so it is probably all in my head but I wanted to toss that out in case it isn’t just me.
  3. The third idea is the most complicated and it is still very easy. In a jar combine 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar. When you add the vinegar the baking soda will foam, it is supposed to do that don’t be alarmed. When the foaming stops add boiling water (about 1 cup) and a couple drops of essential oil and shake to combine. Add this to the rinse cycle.  The essential oil adds fragrance and many of them are also antibacterial which is nice.  I like lavender but Dan prefers tea tree oil or bergamot.

There were other ideas that I came across which I didn’t try but the one that I want to try is dryer balls.  However the only ones I saw were rubber and I was concerned about the fumes they would give off in a hot dryer so I didn’t try this. Do you know of any non-toxic dryer balls other than the wool ones which obviously aren’t vegan?  If so please share.  Thanks!

If you are having problems with static cling the natural advice is two-fold.  First the experts say that natural fibers (cotton, linen, etc.) are much less likely to have a static cling problem and from my experience that is true.  Second the expects say adding baking soda to the wash helps to reduce static.  If you have any additional ideas on reducing static cling please share.  J

Thank You for Your Generosity!

First I want to say thank you to all of you who were so gracious with your time to review my second site for me. I was blown away by your generosity.  Also you guys gave me some great ideas and noticed things that had not occurred to me.  I may not have mentioned this before but the new site is still a little rough. I need to print it out and check for typos, change photos and I want to add a little more content. However I am definitely making progress and that makes me happy.  Who knew that I would be so busy working that I wouldn’t have time to devote to the website?  LOL

87 Degrees in mid-May?

Mother Nature is all messed up this year isn’t she?  Needing the air conditioning this early in the season is just wrong in my opinion.  As you may recall I don’t like to turn on the AC as I am all about the fresh air and having the windows open. However last night I had to make an exception and turn on the AC since our overnight low was expected to be 70 and humid, not exactly good sleeping weather. Today the weather is hot and humid with a threat of a heat induced afternoon thunderstorm. It is definitely more like summer than spring in Baltimore today.

Tomorrow is the Big Day…the Big 50 Day to be Exact:

Yikes this time tomorrow I will be officially the big 50.  I have been dreading this day or so long and now it feels a bit anticlimactic.  Who knew 50 would come in with a whimper?  Any of you ladies who are already 50 please feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.  If you have any advice I would love to hear it.
By the way, turning 50 doesn’t mean that I am cutting my hair.  I resisted the pressure at 40 to go to short hair and I don’t feel any need to do it now at 50 either.  However I may rethink my position when the gray is more prominent (it is only about 5% of the total currently) but for now I am keeping my long tresses. It took me years to grow this hair and I am not letting go of it that easily.  ;-)

On a related note if any of use henna to dye your hair I would love to hear from you.  I will no longer use commercial dye since I realized that eating organic food and putting chemicals on my head made no sense. However I am not opposed to henna but I don’t know anything about it.  I would love to hear your thoughts on how effective it is in covering gray hair and how long it lasts. Also if you have a favorite brands or other information to pass along I am all ears.

We have appointments tomorrow, a webinar and conference call but at least we will be spending the day together which will be nice.  If the weather people are right we should be enjoying cooler temperatures as well which will be nice.  *fingers crossed*

Happy thoughts:

Life has been hectic lately but it has also had many bright spots.  Here are some of my happy thoughts today:
  •          We “found” a little Indian/Nepalese/Tibetan restaurant within walking distance of the boat.  They have quite a few vegan items on the menu which we love. Dan and I have been in there so many times now that they know we are vegan and make modifications for us.  For those of you in Baltimore the restaurant is named Kumari and is located off Fort Avenue in south Baltimore.  For those of you who like wine this place is BYOB (no liquor license) which saves you some cash.  If you see us there stop by and say hello.  J
  •          This morning I had savory oatmeal for breakfast with nutritional yeast, turmeric, black pepper, no salt, garlic, broccoli and tomatoes and it was delicious. I am very thankful that Courtney shared the concept of savory oatmeal with me.  In my opinion there are few things that are better than veggies for breakfast.  ;-)
  •          Dan and I finally made a trip to the Harris Teeter (grocery store) off of Key Highway that is near the boat. It is also an easy walk and while I don’t love it as much as Wegman’s or Whole Foods it is a nice store.  I will definitely be walking there often to replenish the boat food inventory.
  •          Two weeks ago I indulged and had an iced coffee from Starbucks with soymilk when I was in Richmond.  Wow was that coffee delicious. I can still almost taste it.  I was very pleased to see that Starbucks soymilk is organic and hope that is standard location-wide.  It has been so long since I used sweetener that the iced coffee almost tasted sweet like a candy bar to me.  My how my taste buds have changed. LOL
  •          It occurred to me yesterday that my life has done a 360 from where it was less than 10 years ago.  Today I think nothing of walking 5 miles, carrying 42 pound bags of cat litter up stairs and doing any sort of physical activity.  If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be healthier and more fit at 50 than I was at 40 I would have thought you were crazy and now I am living it.  If you are starting to feel the physical decline of aging please know that it doesn’t have to be that way. You can definitely improve your physical condition and health and it happens much more rapidly than you think.  If you have any questions for me about how I made it happen just ask.   I hope you know by now that I am happy to help. 
  •          I am looking forward to spending my birthday tomorrow with my sweetie.  He was kind enough to take the day off to hang out with me.  Dan does have to call into to one conference call but that is fine given that I get to be with him all day.  Other than errands I am not sure what we will be doing but you know that we will have fun.

Signing out:

Today (Wednesday) I had a number of to-do items to knock out.  I checked on my parents and ran errands for them, attended a webinar, studied, worked on my website, and wrote more of my e-book for my first group program. I had to figure out what we are having for dinner and make that.  At the moment I am at the boat sipping iced tea and relaxing and feeding the grand-ducks until I need to get back to work.   I am planning to rearrange all the lockers (boat talk for cabinets) on the boat to make it easier to stow things when we want to go sailing.  Other than that I don’t have anything to on my to-do list. ;-)

I hope your day is a little more relaxed than mine.  If it is please relax enough for both of us.  J Talk with you again soon, hopefully tomorrow.  I am not sure what my hubby has planned for me to tomorrow so you may not hear from me until Friday but I will try to post something tomorrow even if it short.  


  1. Ali, I'm glad you're posting again! and happy early birthday! I hope your day with Dan is wonderful, even if you don't do anything more special than spend time together. Time together is precious. :)

    1. Thanks Jackie,

      I really appreciate the early birthday wishes. :-) You know us we will have a good time no matter what we do. Starting at the doctor at 8am isn't the most fun thing I could imagine but I will make the best of it. I plan to take my laptop with me so that I can be productive during our day of running around. We will see how that goes. Dan wants to get new cell phones tomorrow sometime. My hubby loves technology so I know that is part of my day. Other than that I am not sure what we will be doing.

      talk with you later,

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Nadine,

      I really appreciate the birthday wishes. :-)


  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Neca!

      We are at Hopkins now. Nothing like starting your birthday at the hospital. :-) At least everyone is nice here. We get to break out soon and my first stop will be Starbucks for an iced coffee with organic soymilk. Sounds like a good birthday treat doesn't it? My idea of indulging has certainly changed over the years. LOL

      talk with you later,

  4. Thanks for the laundry tips! Yes, I have used the vinegar trick. I'm always just a little worried that it will bleach my clothes over time. I do use it with rags and I just fill the bleach tray with vinegar instead of bleach. I will try the baking soda idea, too. I have heard that peroxide is an eco-friendly bleach alternative.

    1. Hi Steph!

      Baking soda only is the one I have been falling back on because it is easy. Since Neca uses vinegar I hope she will let us know if she has had any trouble with it bleaching her clothes. I have also heard about peroxide as a an eco-friendly bleach alternative but haven't tried it. If you do please let us know what you think of it. Have you tried lemon juice in the rinse? I have heard that plus hanging your clothes is the sunlight works, but again I haven't tried it.

      hope you are having a great weekend,

  5. i have tried peroxide but don't really "know" if it worked. my rags seemed and smelled clean afterward, but for me, without the controlled study, I'm just working on assumption : ) i like knowing that even a little vinegar goes a long way with sterilizing so i often add loads of it to loads of laundry. just habit. plus it's so cheap...

    haven't heard of lemon juice...very interesting idea...reminds me of dying the hair with peroxide+sunlight : )


    1. Steph,

      Did you use regular perioxide like you would use to clean a wound?

      I thought the same thing about lemon and hair. LOL, great minds....

      hope you had a great weekend,

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