Does natural laundry detergent really work? Do non-toxic laundry detergents actually remove stains? Let’s see how a safe and natural laundry detergent held up to my four kids’ dirty clothes.
Why My Family Uses Safe and Eco-Friendly Products
Over the last few years I have given significant thought to what goes into mine and my family’s bodies. Ironically, as much emphasis as I was putting on my internal choices, I wasn’t really thinking about my external choices, specifically related to my household cleaning products. We say food is medicine all the time. Now, I say safe cleaning products are the garnish.
I think most people can relate that 2020 was a revelatory year. Personally, 2020 was the year I educated myself about the toxins in our environment and our household products. I was shocked to learn the harmful side effects of common cleaners, such as hand soap, Dawn dish soap, and even toothpaste. As a consumer, I always purchased organic or “higher end” products like Seventh Generation or Mrs. Meyers but truthfully, they’re no better than the rest! Marketing is a tricky trickster.
A Note About This Review
It was through this learning that I stumbled upon Branch Basics cleaning products. Before I go on, I should say that this review is not sponsored nor do I receive any commission on purchases you may make. I purchased everything I am going to cover with my hard earned money. The products have been put to the test and I feel confident in reviewing this product for you. So, let’s dig in to some common misconceptions about cleaning products and let’s see how a natural laundry detergent stood up to the test.
Why Are Most Household Products Not Considered Non-Toxic
Unfortunately, here in the USA, cleaning product, including laundry detergent, ingredients are not heavily regulated. More than anything, the terms “non toxic” and “natural” are just marketing tactics. Theoretically, an ingredient is considered non toxic if it doesn’t cause toxic responses in the body (i.e. cancer).
However, our standard cleaning products are so harsh that they actually have the ability to disrupt our endocrine system, mess up our auto-immune responses, and even interfere with our fertility (i.e. PCOS). So, even though your standard bleach or Dawn dish soap claims to kill 99.9% of viruses, it’s doing so at a big cost to your overall health! Here’s a good post by Force of Nature blog.
Natural Laundry Detergent Should Never Have These Five Ingredients
By now most people know to avoid parabens, BPA, phalates, and sulfates. But have you ever heard of sodium laurel sulfate (sls) or sodium laureth sulfate? What about methylisothiazolinone? If you aren’t familiar, don’t feel bad. I had no idea what these things were until recently as well.
- Sodium laureth and laurel sulfate– these are surfactants (emulsifiers) that are used in things like soap, shampoo, detergent, and toothpaste to create suds. They are marketed in products that are “degreasers” or products that claim to “foam up” more than others. What they don’t tell you is that this ingredient is linked to skin irritation, irritation if inhaled, and even “developmental, endocrine, or reproductive issues”.
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) – is a preservative found in virtually every cleaning product, beauty product, and personal care product. MIT is even found in the “premium brands” that market themselves as organic, clean, etc. MIT often may cause allergies and neurotoxicity. Read more about it here. Canada has actually banned the use of MIT in beauty products!
- Fragrance– is also a generic term that is on every scented product on store shelves. Any time a product is scented, we’ll use vanilla as an example, it doesn’t mean it is naturally scented with vanilla beans. In fact, the term fragrance can be a Molotov cocktail of harmful ingredients that manufactures are not legally required to disclose! “Fragrance chemicals can pass through the skin and enter the blood stream. They are manufactured from petroleum and coal tar and are classified as carcinogens, hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, skin and respiratory irritants.” The scary truth is that we have no idea exactly what is in that “natural fragrance” on our Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender hand soap!
- Quaternium-15– when activated in a wash cycle, this ingredient releases formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, the same stuff used to embalm people post mortem, is a known carcinogen that can cause a plethora of health problems including cancer.
- Bleach– yes, even bleach is highly toxic. It is also known to upset allergies, asthma, and has even been linked to cancer. Here is a very interesting study that found households who used bleach, or similar disinfectants, had a higher rate of children with childhood obesity!
What Is An All Natural Laundry Detergent
Now you may be wondering what in the world is a truly natural laundry detergent! I’ve been there too. Mostly, I wondered if they can really take out the jelly, mud, baby spit up, and whatever else stains my kids seem to conjure up in a day! Just like in safe cleaning products, a natural laundry detergent will have biodegradable ingredients, zero fragrances, and zero dyes. They will also generally be considered eco friendly.
What Is Branch Basics
As mentioned above, I stumbled upon Branch Basics through my search for safe cleaning products. Branch Basics is an unscented concentrate that is added to water (or distilled water) in various amounts to create laundry detergent, all purpose cleaner, window/glass cleaner, hand soap, stain remover, and bathroom cleaner. It is made up of six plant and mineral based ingredients that are safe for humans, pets, and the environments. Branch Basics also carries a MADE SAFE seal which certifies them as safe cleaning products.
Read my review of Branch Basics household cleaning supplies in this post.
How To Use Branch Basics’ Laundry Detergent
The Branch Basics all natural laundry detergent is comprised of their concentrate + water. They also offer an oxygen booster that acts like OxyClean or something similar. Here’s how I wash a load of laundry in my front loading HE washing machine:
- Add 1/2 to 1 scoop of the oxygen booster directly into the washer. This will help keep clothes bright and remove light stains.
- Add clothes to the washing machine.
- Add 3/4 cap full up to 2 cap fulls of the laundry detergent into the liquid laundry dispenser drawer.
- For extra softening or stinky items (like towels), I add white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser drawer.
- Run my cycle as normal.
- Dry with wool dryer balls when needed.
If I need to pretreat a stain, I will dissolve 1 scoop of the oxygen booster into my utility sink with cold water and let the items soak for about an hour. Then I’ll wash as normal. You may also create a paste with the oxygen booster and rub it into a stain to pretreat. However, I have not yet had to try this method.
Pros for Branch Basics Laundry Detergent:
- Unscented (add essential oils for a nice fragrance)
- Free of dyes
- Uses the same concentrate only one product is needed
- Leaves clothes feeling fresh
- Removes most stains
- Cost effective
- Suitable for HE washing machines
Cons for Branch Basics Laundry Detergent
- Some really set in stains, such as pizza grease, did not completely come out
- Fragrance free can make you think your clothes aren’t clean until you get used to the “fresh laundry scent” not being there
Is Branch Basics Laundry Detergent Affordable
Aside from all of the reasons I listed above, I also love that Branch Basics is an incredibly affordable safe cleaning product! Think about how much you spend on normal cleaning products. Tide Pods are somewhere around $20 for a container now! Then you’re probably buying dish soap, dish detergent, laundry softener, bathroom cleaner, glass cleaner, and hand soap. You easily spend $100 on cleaning supplies every 4 to 6 weeks don’t you? I know this because I did!
One bottle of Branch Basics concentrate, which costs $49, makes twelve (12) bottles of cleaner plus 64 loads of laundry! Read that again. Per their math, BB averages that one bottle of of their all purpose cleaner costs $2.90. I call that a bargain!
Aside from the monetary benefits, Branch Basics is committed to educating people about toxins and the importance of using safe cleaning products. They are a female owned business with a really unique story (read about that here). Additionally, they are certified non-GMO, fragrance free, and biodegradable.
If you’re looking to start living a toxic free life in addition to fueling your body well, I highly recommend trying out Branch Basics! Their natural laundry detergent is effective, affordable, and easy to use. It’s suitable for HE washing machines. You might not get every stain out, like pizza grease, so it’s best to have an alternative for that.
Did you enjoyed this post? Let me know in the comments below. If you decide to try Branch Basics, or any other eco-friendly cleaning product, tag me on Instagram with hashtag #thecrunchyprep.
- Branch Basics Concentrate
- Branch Basics Oxygen Boost
- Distilled White Vinegar
To Pre-Treat Set-in Stains:
- Dissolve 1/2 to 1 scoop of Branch Basics oxygen booster in cold water. Soak clothes 1 hour. Ring out excess water and wash as normal.
- Mix 1/2 scoop of Branch Basics oxygen boost with a small amount of water to create a paste. Rub the paste into the area that needs treating. Let sit up to 1 hour and wash as normal.
To Wash Normally Soiled Items:
- Add 1 scoop Oxygen Boost to the washing machine drum. Add clothes.
- Pour 3/4 to 1 capfull of Laundry Detergent to liquid detergent dispenser. Add a few drops of essential oils for scent, if desired.
- For towels, heavily soiled clothes, or bedding, use up to 2 capfulls.
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