One of the most common issues when using eco laundry products such as soapnuts or soapwort, is getting whites looking really white. After a few natural washes white clothing and bedding can become more grey and yellow, even when they are clean. It is more pronounced with hard water. The yellowy-grey is the actual colour of the fabric and up to now soapnuts users have resigned themselves to having off-whites. However we do now have the number one eco solution to make your whites dazzling even when using natural laundry products and thought that you’d like to know. We can now get our whites looking like new with our traditional totally natural blue indigo laundry bluing!
Conventional washing powders and fabric conditioners contain chemicals of the stilbene group ‘optical brighteners’ – to whiten whites. These chemicals change light from the invisible ultraviolet and violet spectrum and re-emits it in the blue range of the visible spectrum by fluorescent emission. The blue light coming from the whites balances the yellowy-grey colour of the fabric and it looks white.
Unfortunately, this stilbene group of chemicals is harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects. It is also harmful to humans. It is connected to respiratory difficulties and skin troubles and harms people with pre-existing eye conditions. I have noticed that my water board monitors this chemical in our drinking water, but as far as I know they do not remove it and it has long term aquatic toxicity…
What did people use to whiten their white laundry in the past?
Reaching back two generations, I remember my grandmother washing her ‘smalls’ (underwear) by hand. The magic happened when the rinse water was prepared. She would dip a block of laundry blu in and out of the rinse water, until she had tinted the water with just a hint of blue colour. Then she would add the washed clothing. Everytime, she would caution me about using too much! Then she would swirl her whites around in the water, leave them for a few minutes, before giving them another swirl. Finally she would pull the plug and wring the hand washing out. Her technique did mimic the use of true indigo, used by her pre-industrial ancestors, but actually she was using a post industrial revolution chemical form of laundry bluing and not the true indigo. You can guess what we use here – our natural and traditional indigo!
Why use Traditional Indigo as Laundry Bluing
There are distinct advantages to using true indigo as laundry whitener, especially for people with skin troubles and psoriasis. Just by avoiding contact with chemicals from personal care, laundry and household cleaning products, people with skin or respiratory troubles can obtain relief. Then by replacing chemical washing powders and conditioners with natural products, it is possible to obtain further relief – Soapnuts are used in Ayervedic medicine for the treatment of skin diseases and indigotin (the most important component of true Indigo) is being added to skin products formulated for people with psoriasis.
Be sure to use totally Natural and Traditionally prepared Indigo. To make our indigo skin friendly it is not reduced with chemicals, but with camel and goat urine. It gives us a product which is chemical free and skin friendly and no, your socks won’t smell of camels or goats – just really fresh! Most blue indigo for sale on the market is produced with chemicals – only true blue indigo is safe for skin contact and kind to your clothes!
How do you use True Indigo as Laundry Bluing?
There are two ways.
In a Washing Machine
For washing whites in the washing machine, we place a tiny 1/4 tsp of Indigo Powder in a glass jar (ours held about 300ml of liquid). Make sure the lid fits well and that the jar is watertight. We add warm water and shake it to mix. This gives us enough for 4-5 machine loads. We add about 1/4 or 1/5 of our jar of indigo liquid to the fabric conditioner compartment of our washing machine, and the Soapnuts as usual, contained in an odd sock in the drum. My sheets come out lovely and they feel and look unusually clean!
See our video on how to make up your natural Optical Brightener
With Hand Washing
Wash your clothes with a soapnut solution and rinse the soap out in fresh water so you are ready for the blu rinse. Run warm water into the sink and then add just a little of the indigo solution from your jar. Or you put an indigo block in a cloth bag and dip the it in and out of the water to create the ‘blu’ rinse water. Then do what my grandmother did (as above) Finally let the bag and indigo block dry before putting it away otherwise it will stain your drawers!
May your whites be whiter and more natural than your neighbours!
In additional to laundry, I use soapnuts everyday – for natural rubber-glove-free washing up, surface cleaning, the loos, glass and shiny things.
For hand washing I use an indigo block dipping it in and out of the warm water a few times until just a hint of blue is obtained, but mostly I use it in my washing machine in the liquid form, adding it to the conditioner tray in each wash becuase textiles really do seem to stay fresher for longer when it is used.