I’ve recently started the process of using cloth diapers for the little one and in my quest for information on all things cloth diapers I discovered some laundering information that translates to washing Lulu clothes, technical fabrics and towels.

Country Save HE Laundry Detergent, Powder, 160-Load, 10-lb Boxes (Case of 4)Conventional laundry detergent as well as environmentally friendly brands usually have additives that coat your clothes with a residue. Things like optical whiteners (over time it dulls colors and whites), softeners, fragrance, enzymes etc. etc. Over time the residue damages fabrics wicking capability, dulls colors, the enzymes fade colors and your clothes feel stiff and scratchy (particularly if you hang to dry). I thought I was doing really well by using the Seventh Gen laundry detergent but unfortunately it has a high enzyme content and also leaves a lot of residue. Smells lovely though.

All of my towels over time have developed a really gross mouldy body odour smell that just will not go away. I wash them with tide and they smell fine (masked by fragrance) and then one day later in the washroom they stink and they stink up the washroom too. I discovered that the reason for this although pretty complicated has a simple solution. First of all bacteria grows in your towels from normal use as well as from leaving them damp in the washing machine (common, were all guilty of that). It so happens that bacteria LOVE the residue from detergent which it feeds of off as well as body sweat. Gym clothes get this problem too. To strip your clothes of the residue you can do a very hot wash using vinegar but you don’t want to do this often with your gym clothes because vinegar and hot water can damage Lycra over time.

High residue also clogs up the pores in your technical fabrics so that they no longer wick away moisture and it can create a coating on your washing machine that can cause overflow of suds and major water damage. I had this problem with my HE machine and the technician that came to repair the washing machine kept telling me that it was the soap I was using. I though he was crazy and figured they were faulty machines that he was conspiring to cover up. Ha, now I know what the heck he was talking about. Even when you use a low residue soap, if you use too much of it you will get a residue eventually so make sure to follow the manufacturers instructions.

The brands I have found that are low residue (locally in Vancouver) are Nelly’s and Country Save, both sold at London Drugs. Country Save was about $5 for a load of 80-160 (160-HE). Washing with the Country Save I’ve noticed right away that clothes come out softer and looking like they did when they were at the store. They smell like nothing. No fragrance other than the smell of clean clothes and no gross moldy BO smell either. I wonder how my Luon pants will do over time and if this will help prevent piling. Don’t forget to not use fabric softener as well, if you really need to use something get some dryer balls.

I’m really glad I’ve made this discovery and that I can save my towels instead of throwing them out and purchasing new ones only to have that happen again. I can probably avoid fluffing up hung dry clothes in the dryer too

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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    June 9, 2010 / 7:22 pm

    charlies soap is a good one too.

  2. Anonymous
    June 9, 2010 / 8:14 pm

    well my kids have eczema and you compelled me to try this…I normally use norwex laundry detergent…since I do try to be enviormentally friendly and use as little chemicals as I can, the reviews seem to be great! If my towels stop smelling I will be happy!!!

  3. Lulumum
    June 9, 2010 / 7:40 pm

    yes, I've read that but haven't come across it yet in stores.

  4. Lulumum
    June 9, 2010 / 8:28 pm

    I have skin issues too all over my arms + eczema which got really bad after my pregnancies so if a side effect of making this change makes it better I will be sure to post this and may consider an "I love no residue detergent" blog.

  5. June 11, 2010 / 6:17 pm

    I adore Nellie's detergent, it's shipped out locally from N.Vancouver and I've used it because we cloth diaper as well. My hubby is allergic to most fragrances, and I have the eczema issue, so it was a no-brainer to go with something with less chemicals.
    A good tip is to use less detergent and add an extra rinse to your laundry, this eliminates any possible residue. Clothes don't need a lot of detergent to get clean! A little soap goes a long way. especially now with the HE washers, you can get away with using 1/2 of the recommended detergent because the HE washers use less water.
    I think Nellie's and Country Save are also available at London Drugs (only West coast) and thru online orders from Nellie's website and London Drugs website.

  6. Lulumum
    June 12, 2010 / 9:08 pm

    Thanks Cheryl! I don't know were we got the idea that clothes need to be disinfected clean instead of just clean..I guess you need a heavy duty clean if your a nurse or Dr. but for just every day dirty clothes who needs all that hoopla. I also found myself increasing the amount of soap I was using over time because I was getting used to the fragrance and fragrance equaled clean.

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