Lucky for us the world seems to be on an “all-things-natural” kick. This means more information and more products available for us.
Every known manufacturer of cleaning products now offers a “green” alternative. This is great when it comes to cleaning the bathtub, sinks and windows. But what about the laundry? How can we get a really deep clean in the washer?
Most of the world still turns to bleach for getting whites whiter and disinfecting contaminated laundry. However, there are safer, greener alternatives to bleach.
One alternative is Hydrogen Peroxide 3%. Here is an excerpt from an article I found:
To keep your whitelooking its whitest without using chlorine bleach, you can try one of the following options.
The first option is to use hydrogen peroxide. For this method, use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. 3% is the standard solution sold at many drugstores and retailers. To check if yours is 3%, read the label. Anything stronger than 3% is dangerous to use in your household.
Pour ½ cup of your hydrogen peroxide in the bleach cup/section of your washing machine. If your washing machine does not have this section, allow the washer to fill to the load level before placing the clothing in the washer and pour the hydrogen peroxide directly into the water. Allow the washer to agitate a few times before placing the clothing in. This distributes the peroxide.
Peroxide, like bleach, can damage certain dyes and fabrics. Test a small inconspicuous area on your garments first, just like bleach. Peroxide is also a disinfecting agent, so if you need something that also gets rid of germs, this works well. It also removes stains, such as those found in cloth diapers and it also removes blood and grass stains.
Another alternative to bleach is white vinegar. A study by Purdue University found that vinegar was as effective as chlorine-based cleaners at disinfecting. You can check out the study here.
The article referenced applies to hard surface cleaning and would not directly apply to cloth cleaning particularly cloth diapers.
The article itself points out ” a vinegar rinse …, may be effective in reducing microbial contamination. However, when there are health-related concerns (such as the presence of newborns or immunosuppressed family members in the household) that signify the need for microbiocidal action, consumers should be aware that only registered disinfectants have been tested using standard methods to show cidal action.”
A word of note: do not mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Both can be combined with baking soda, however, which is a great natural way to remove stains.
Tea Tree oil is another option. By adding 2 teaspoons (amount found on the Tea Tree oil label) to the washing machine you will achieve the same disinfectant result but with a natural product. Make sure you are using 100% tea tree oil and not a cheaper mixture.
I found some awesome information on Tea Tree oil at Molly’s Herbals:
“First- Be careful when buying Tea Tree Oil. Tea Tree Oil is available commercially in a range of grades. It is worthwhile to use the best quality oil you can find. Very often, you get what you pay for. Make sure to find out what kind of Tea Tree Oil you are getting.
You want to look at the Cineole and Terpinen-4-ol numbers.
Cineole: The lower the number the better. Tree oils with high cineole content are thought to be of poor quality and more likely to cause skin irritation.
Terpinen-4-ol: The higher the number the better. Terpinen-4-ol appears responsible for most of the antimicrobial activity of tea tree oil.
Australian standard for Tea Tree Oil (AS2782-1985) requires a maximum cineol content of 15% and a minimum terpinen-4-ol of 30%.
Categories of Tea Tree Oil: Cineole / Terpinen-4-ol Concentrations:
Properties: aromatic, antiseptic, anesthetic (mild), antibacterial, antimicrobial, disinfectant, fungicide, germicide
History: Tea Tree Oil, also known as Melaleuca, was used as a general antiseptic by the aborigine tribes for thousands of years. Aborigines were known to chew on the leaves. It was used as a medicinal agent for cuts, burns, bites and many, skin ailments. Famous British explorer Captain Cook is held as the man responsible for the name ‘tea tree’. In 1770 when he and his men landed at Botany Bay, Cook brewed the leaves of the tree for his men to drink to prevent scurvy. As early as 1923, clinical trials in Australia began to provide scientific evidence for tea tree’s antiseptic and bactericidal properties. Its importance made it standard issue for the soldiers in the Australian Army during World War II.”
Grapefruit Seed Extract has been shown to be 10 to 100 times more effective as a disinfectant than chlorine, colloidal silver, and iodine. Add 20-40 drops to the washing machine, wash or rinse cycle. Some of the microbes GFSE has been shown to kill include: staph, salmonella, herpes, candida (yeast), E. coli, strep, parasites and more.
Dirty, infected cloth diapers don’t stand a chance against these powerful natural cleaners!