What we wash away down the plug hole has become an increasing concern of mine and has slowly but surely changed my cleaning habits considerably, both in terms of washing myself and washing things in my home. I’ve gone from a bleach lover to shamefaced occasional user; I clean my shower screen with vinegar and often bathe in plain hot water. The only time my clothes have smelt freshly fragranced in the last couple of years is when I happily discovered samples of everyday washing detergent in a holiday apartment and thought I may as well use them. And yes, the burst of ylang ylang sea breeze rose petal mountain fresh was LOVELY. But other than that I’ve tried a few environmentally-friendly alternatives – including nothing but water, which does work for the odd freshen-up.
First on the list we have Ecozone Ecoballs. A nice little discovery from a shop in Brighton, I genuinely think these are great. They are tennis-sized balls of eco goodness you can chuck straight into the drum again and again and by some science I don’t understand, your clothes come out clean with no harm done to the environment in the meantime. Because they are soap free you can cut the rinse cycle on your machine (if your machine has that function) thus saving extra water and energy. Although pricey to purchase upfront EcoZone then say that they cost just 8p per wash. After a few months you’re meant to replace the balls (that’s on my to-do list).
After my experimentation with EcoBalls I moved onto Ecover non-bio liquid, probably I should say, in search of something fragranced. Normally I’m a great fan of Ecover, not least because their range of cleaning products is extensive and easily available in the supermarket, but sadly I didn’t get on with their washing detergent. Whilst it did clean my clothes and made them smell clean too, something about it irritated my skin. I don’t have particularly sensitive skin so this was surprising and perhaps said more about my lack of contact with soapy detergents in general. Whatever it was, mum benefited from my cast-offs and I haven’t had any complaints about its effectiveness in dealing with dog blankets and mud-encrusted jeans.
And so we come to Bio-D who recently sent me some washing detergent and fabric conditioner to trial (they must think I’m posh – I can barely be bothered to condition my hair!). Bio-D is an independent, family owned, ethically motivated company producing environmentally responsible detergents that have minimal ecological impact both in their manufacture and use. Where possible ingredients are derived from plant-based, renewable sources. The concentrated laundry liquid is fragrance free and ideal for delicates and fine fabrics. I’ve found it washes my clothes perfectly and causes no irritation with wear. The fabric conditioners come fragranced with essential oils – juniper and seaweed, or lavender – or completely unfragranced.
A further benefit of Bio-D is their disdain for animal testing. They ensure that none of their raw materials or finished products are tested on animals, and are therefore certified by the ‘Leaping Bunny’ logo. You’d probably recognise the Leaping Bunny logo, even if you’re not sure what the scheme is about. It’s coordinated by Cruelty Free International, the leading worldwide organisation working to end experimentation on animals. 100s of cleaning products, toiletries and beauty products are certified by the Bunny – you can request your own copy of their shopping guide to check yours. Cruelty Free International’s latest campaign asks consumers like you and me to sign the ‘Go Cruelty Free Pledge’ and only buy Leaping Bunny certified products. You can take the pledge here and receive monthly offers from Leaping Bunny brands, Bio-D being one of them.
So there we have it – three environmentally-friendly alternatives for washing your clothes tried and tested. I should say that although I don’t have kids or pets and therefore shouldn’t get particularly mucky – I do make a habit of rolling around the common on a weekday evening (for fitness training) and Bio-D coped fabulously with muddy knees and elbows.