Clean laundry - no soap
by Kari Gray
here's your laundry powder?" My sister-in-law was
visiting from Scotland and needed to wash some clothes. Seven-month-old
nieces wear three or four outfits a day and get all of them dirty.
"We use these," I handed her three plastic
disks, covered with a band of sea-green foam and filled with pebbles.
"I could run out and buy some if you're out,"
"No, we really do use these," I insisted.
Ann wasn't skeptical about the idea of using laundry
disks; Americans are full of strange ideas. She was skeptical about their
ability to wash out baby food stains. To be honest, so was I.
The laundry disks had arrived in the mail. Only $59.95 and I would never
have to buy laundry detergent again. I'll admit that my motivation was financial
rather than environmental. There is also the "hassle" factor:
imagine never running out of laundry detergent. Never having to coax one
last dribble out of the detergent bottle. Never having to run to the store
between loads to buy more.
There are, of course, environmental advantages to using
a reusable laundry cleaning device, but the ads for the laundry disks explain
those advantages more completely than I could. To me, the main environmental
advantage would be that I wouldn't have to cram a plastic laundry detergent
bottle into my tiny trash can and, therefore, wouldn't have to empty the
trash as often.
After a few weeks of using the laundry disks, I noticed
that I was buying less detergent and I was throwing away fewer laundry detergent
bottles. But how clean are my clothes? At one time or another, all our clothes
have been washed with the laundry disks - work clothes, workout clothes,
towels, sheets and socks. Do the laundry disks clean even the toughest stains?
The smelliest socks?
Well, my clothes are neither more nor less clean than
when I use detergent. Because the laundry disks work naturally, clothes
don't smell like detergent. So if you need olfactory verification of cleanliness,
the disks don't deliver. I still have to pre-treat stains, though, and use
hot water on whites.
But to all appearances - mine and the rest of the world
- my clothes are clean. Clean, and free of any detergent residue that might
irritate a seven-month-old baby's sensitive skin. That's what finally convinced
my sister-in-law: when you use laundry disks, you aren't using detergent.
You don't have to find the American equivalent of a gentle detergent and
wonder how it will affect sensitive skin.
Kari Gray is a staff member and event producer for San Diego Earth