Detergent-Free Laundry…oh yeah, its a thing
5 Minute Read
What would you say if I told you that laundry could be done without detergent? You’d probably be skeptical…right?
(**Don’t worry, I’ll help you pick your jaw off the floor after reading this.**)
Last year, I went to the Green Expo in NY and came across this booth claiming you could do laundry without any detergent. At first, I thought it had to be a gimmick, but after hearing their in-depth description about pH levels and the materials that went into their product, I realized these guys were legit. SmartKlean is a laundry ball that you throw in the washing machine instead of detergent. It’s just as effective at cleaning clothes, but involves zero chemicals or fragrances. This means its safer for you, your kids, and the environment.
How does it work?
I’m going to use an analogy to explain this (so just stay with me here): Have you ever had Ceviche? It’s a Peruvian dish where raw fish is marinated in lime juice. The acidity from the citrus actually cooks the fish in the same way that heat would. This sort of flips the way we understand cooking because usually heat is required, but in reality, there are multiple ways to “cook” something outside of applying heat.
Here’s where I bring it back to the laundry ball. Traditional detergent cleans your clothes by changing the pH levels of the water. It shrinks the water particles, allowing them to pass through the fabric, taking the dirt and grime with them. This is a chemical process that’s been used for centuries, but its not the only way to change pH levels. It can also be done through a physical process, which is exactly how SmartKlean does it. Their laundry ball is filled with ceramic beads and magnets that modify the pH levels of water, thereby cleaning your clothes. Both methods effectively get the job done, but the laundry ball does it without any chemicals.
Illustration from the SmartKlean website showing how its laundry ball effectively cleans your clothes.
Previously, I used eco-friendly detergents, which are cleaner than Tide or other mainstream options, but those cleaner versions still have chemicals that runoff into our waterways and are packaged in plastic containers, so why not ditch the detergent altogether? I’ve been using the SmartKlean Ball for over a year and my clothes are as clean as ever. I have not bought any detergent since then, and I feel damn good about the fact that my laundry routine is completely chemical-free.
If I haven’t swayed you just yet, let’s talk about the cost-savings:
The SmartKlean Laundry Ball lasts for 365 washes. If you do 2 loads of laundry every week, it will last you 3.5 years. This is an enormous amount of savings compared to how much detergent you would buy in that time frame. And because there are no chemicals to wash out of your clothes, you can skip the “rinse cycle” (since that’s what its purpose is—to wash out the residue). This saves you water and energy, which translates to CASH MONAAYYY!!
Here is the Cliff Notes Version of why you should make the switch:
- Cheaper than detergent
- Saves Water and Energy
- Chemical Free
- Fragrance-Free (perfect for people with eczema and skin sensitivities)
- Zero chemical runoff into our waterways
- Made of Recyclable Materials
- Safe to use on children’s clothing
If you use dryer sheets to remove lint or soften your clothes, I have 2 more secret weapons for you:
Reusable Dryer Sheets:
I found these guys on Amazon. They do the work of 300 dryer sheets! You put them in your dryer, and your clothes come out super soft with no lint (fyi: single-use dryer sheets are made of non-recyclable polyester and are laden with chemicals).
In full disclosure, these reusable dryer sheets are not the perfect solution as they are still made out of synthetic fibers (here’s why that’s a problem), but its definitely the lesser of 2 evils. If people need dryer sheets, its better to choose reusables even if they are made out of synthetics because they last for 300 cycles, compared to disposables, which are made out of synthetics, doused in chemicals, used once and thrown away (bye-bye laundry, hello landfill!).
Wool Dryer Balls:
This is a more natural (less synthetic) alternative to the above, but if wool tends to make you itchy, they’re probably not the best option for you. Friendsheep Wool Balls are cruelty free, fair trade, ethically and sustainably made, and will last years (about 1000+ washes). They do a great job of removing lint from your clothes, speed up your drying time, and are pretty damn cute if you ask me.
Maybe one day, I’ll find a sustainable (non-wool) alternative to dryer sheets,