Did you know that in Australia most laundry powders contain one quarter to one third fillers, which have no cleaning effect whatsoever?
That’s one reason I recommend making sure you know exactly what’s in your laundry powder or liquid, whether by making it yourself or finding a brand you trust. The problem with those fillers, aside from the fact that you & the planet are paying for the packaging and shipping of something that is only there to bulk up your product and make it look like more, is that they can stay in your clothes and washing machine and cause problems to both.
They coat your clothes, sometimes causing skin irritations, and trap bacteria inside the fibres, so that just-washed clothes can start to smell again almost as soon as you put them on. This tends to be worst with synthetic fabrics, but can be an issue in other clothes too.
They can also cause problems for your washing machine, as you’ll see in the video. And watching the following video, you might be surprised by the brands that use the most fillers.
As regular readers know, I not only used to make my own laundry powder (or sometimes liquid), I researched the science, wrote about it, and generally was pretty happy with it.
So why have I stopped using it?
Well, basically because I discovered something that works better, is still safe for my kids and my garden, is much easier to dissolve than soap flakes, and is still really good value for money.
Let me tell you the story that made me try it. I was talking with my friend Lis, who has three children, the youngest of whom is only two. Lis told me she used to use the eco-friendly supermarket brands and was quite happy with them (cue groans from other friends in the conversation, who reckon those don’t work At All). Then she had her third child, and he was the Biggest Grot Ever. “I just couldn’t get his clothes clean,” she told me, “So eventually I went back to using [leading supermarket brand]. And it worked.”
Well, this – and our other friend’s reactions – was a surprise to me, because I have only ever used the eco-style brands, followed by switching to my own DIY washing powder. Which I reckoned worked as well as the others did. BUT, I used it – or really, my husband did, since he does most of the laundry in our house – with Preen (before switching to DIY) and then with one of my DIY pre-wash stain removers. And in all honesty, Chris always preferred the Ammonia based one, because it did work better. Without the pre-wash spray, most of those kids clothes wouldn’t come very clean. But that is what we’d always done, so when I switched to DIY it really wasn’t any different.
But, to go on with the story, Lis then discovered – wait for it, can you guess? Norwex laundry powder. And it is not only free from fillers and nasties, but it worked!
Well, I was dismissive of course. I kept using my own homemade washing powder for a couple of months having this conversation. But then in December, when I hosted a Norwex party myself, I got a bag of the Norwex Ultra Power Plus laundry powder as one of my host rewards. “Well, I suppose we had better use it,” I said to Chris.
So we did. And we never looked back.
It is free from fillers, phosphates, fragrances, dyes, enzymes, and whiteners , and will not leave any residue in your clothes. It’s grey water safe, and it does an AWESOME job on your clothes. It’s low suds so you can use it in a top or front loader. In a front loader, or using the Norwex magnet ball in a top loader (which softens your water, and which I also got as a host gift), you will get at least 80-120 loads out of one bag, and up to 320 loads. AND, you can use it for woollens, and other delicates, as well as your ordinary clothes.
We started our first bag about mid December, and finished it early March sometime. And that’s despite Chris not knowing about the effects of the magnet ball for a while there, and putting waaay too much in. With a family with 3 kids, that’s pretty good I reckon!
So how does it compare?
Does it work?
According to my husband, who as I said does most of the laundry in our house, it works better than either my home made laundry powder, or the eco/green brands we bought before. He still often uses a pre-wash stain remover, but now he just uses a 50/50 dishwashing liquid/water mix in a spray bottle.
According to a customer at a recent Norwex party I ran, it works so well her son asked her to wash more of his clothes (out of his cupboard) in it! She told us that he had a shirt he had to wear for band, and phoned her up from school begging her to bring him another one, because it smelled so bad – this was a “clean” shirt, but being synthetic, was particularly affected by the fillers in commercial washing powder. Once she switched to the Norwex powder, not only can he now wear that shirt again, he brought her other shirts out of his cupboard to “please wash too”, with the new washing powder.
What about the ingredients?
It has no ingredients listed on the “Nasties” list by Safe Cosmetics Australia (http://www.safecosmeticsaustralia.com.au/2012/10/nasty-chemicals-z.html) It does have Sodium Silicate which rates a 3 on the Skin Deep database, and can be an irritant. But I know people with eczema and other allergies have used it to improve their skin, so it can’t be too much of an irritant (or else there’s just so little in it, it doesn’t have any effect). Aside from that, I am perfectly happy with the ingredients list. It works for me.
Check out this comparison Choice did a while ago:
FRONT LOADER – Cost per normal wash (does not include cost of fabric softener per wash)
Cold Power Maximum powder – $0.59
Omo Ultimate powder – $0.79
Cold Power Regular powder – $0.40
Omo Small & Mighty powder – $0.50
Drive Ultra powder – $0.54
Trimat Advanced powder – $0.22
NORWEX ULTRA POWER PLUS – $0.135 total (use no more than 1/2 a tbsp and NO fabric softener is required!)
TOP LOADER – Cost per normal wash (does not include cost of fabric softener per wash)
Cold Power Maximum powder – $0.59
Omo Ultimate powder – $0.85
NORWEX ULTRA POWER PLUS and MAGNET BALL – $0.108 (use less than 1/2 a tbsp and NO fabric softener is required!)
(NOTE: we have a large top loader and tend to fill it up every time, mostly with lots of very grubby kids’ clothes and I calculated we were probably using 16-20c worth of powder for most loads – still awesome value for money though, and we’re saving money on the pre-wash spray ingredients AND saving time – love it!)
So that’s why I don’t use my DIY laundry products any more. But I recommend you do, or else get yourself some Norwex Ultra Power Plus 😉 (If you want to try it without having to buy it, you can always host a party yourself – online or off! Just contact me if you are interested)
What do you use, do you make your own laundry powder, or use a commercial option? Did you know about the fillers in most supermarket brands? And whatever you use are you happy with the results? If you have a different brand of washing powder, I’d love you to try my experiment above, and see how much of it remains undissolved. You might be surprised!