Really? ... Wow!
This question -- "Is my laundry detergent leaving poop on my panties?" -- is probably one that you don't often (if ever) consider. But -- given what scientists have recently been learning about how detergents work or don't work -- maybe you should. As reported by ABC News:
Your dirty laundry may actually be even dirtier after you wash it. That's because experts say washing machines are teeming with bacteria that find their way onto your clothes -- and then onto you. Our smallest items -- our undergarments -- are the biggest culprits because of the presence of fecal matter and the different types of bacteria it can carry.
The bottom line is that detergents, in and of themselves, don't kill germs. They do remove dirt, so previously dirty clothes will probably look clean after being washed with detergent -- but these clothes could easily still be harboring all variety of germs and bacteria. Why? Because some portion of the poop in your panties (and the germs/bacteria that it carries) actually stays in your detergent-washed panties; some of it gets spread around to all the other clothing that's in the same load with the panties; and some of it gets deposited into the washing machine itself -- so that your next load of laundry, right at the outset, gets contaminated by the bacteria that was growing all week in your wash-machine. Yikes!
Do Detergents Ever Really Work?
The way to make detergents actually "work" to fully eliminate bacteria is to use very hot water -- in the 140-150 degree range -- and/or to add bleach or another germicidal substance to the load of laundry. But many people today are in the habit of choosing a cold-water or warm-water cycle, in order to save energy. And this kind of environmental consciousness is wonderful! And many people are in the habit of choosing very gentle detergents, for health reasons. And this sort of health consciousness is also wonderful!
But we need to be very clear about the very real downside of these choices, which is that the combination of a gentle detergent plus a low-temperature cycle dramatically increases the risk of laundry bacteria lingering in your (presumed-to-be) "clean" clothes. And this dramatically increases the risk of the onset of all variety of infections, from wearing these clothes -- which are very likely to contain remnants of fecal matter (aka poop!). And as you probably guessed, fecal matter can carry a variety of different pathogens, including the hepatitis A virus, norovirus, rotavirus, salmonella and E. coli. Yikes again!
As reported in Medical Daily:
The shift from high-temperature washes and harsh detergents to low-temperature washes and gentle detergents is good for fabrics, sensitive skin, and the environment, but not for killing laundry bacteria.
When using a gentle detergent in a low-temperature wash cycle, the bacteria from soiled underwear can quite easily transfer to other items in the same load, e.g. bath towels; cloth napkins; kitchen towels used to wipe and dry dishes; and face cloths. Washing clothes in this way also allow for germs to grow in the detergent drawer and the door seals of the laundry machine. The result is the creation, within your home, of a potentially endless cycle of germs -- reproduced through the very activity (namely, washing clothes) that you have all along assumed to be preventing such a thing.
The Downsides Of Laundry Detergents
Even assuming that you use a very hot-water cycle, and mix in some bleach or other substance that actually kills bacteria, there are some very good reasons to completely avoid standard laundry detergents:
1. For one, detergents can be loaded with skin irritants. Some have added whitening agents or optical brighteners that are designed to stay on the clothes -- even after the final rinse cycle -- and can cause skin rashes for those who are sensitive. Even "fragrance-free" varieties of detergent can be skin irritants because artificial fragrances are not the only detergent ingredients that irritate human skin.
2. Some detergents don't work well in hard water, and frequently leave behind a "soap scum" residue on the cloths as well as in the washing machine. The residue in the clothes contains whatever other chemicals were in the detergent or hard water -- and these chemicals then brush right up against your skin the next time that you wear these clothes.
3. And finally -- to reiterate the main point of this post -- a vast majority of detergents do not, in and of themselves, have to power to kill bacteria. This is especially true of gentle detergents run in a cold-water or warm-water cycle. Such a situation is much more likely to just spread around the germs than to decrease them in any meaningful way -- which obviously is not a great thing for the health of your body or your home.
The Solution: Sun & A Soap-Based Laundry Wash
So what's the solution? One great solution is to return to how our ancestors used to wash and dry their clothing: using a soap-based laundry wash, and then drying the clothes in the sun. As it turns out, the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is one of the toughest germ-killers around -- just as effective as bleach! So hanging your clothes out to dry in the sun -- rather than in an electric dryer -- is a great way to ensure that they will be germ-free.
But what about the detergent? What kind of soap should you use, to best clean your clothes? A beautiful, organic, holistic solution is to do what our ancestors did (and what many indigenous peoples still do) .... which is to use a tallow soap to wash our clothes. And the good news is that you can easily use a tallow soap in your modern wash-machine -- if you choose to forgo the hand-washing in a streaming technique :)
The laundry soap created by Becky's Tallow Treasures is based on a simple effective tallow soap -- which is exactly what our historical ancestors used to clean clothes. Added to the tallow base of this laundry soap are pure essential oils known for their cleansing and freshening qualities; and washing soda which eliminates the effects of hard water, to help your clothes last longer and become less dingy, and prevent soap scum from transferring unknown pathogens, via your clothing, to your skin.
So ... say goodbye to your poop-bacteria-circulating detergents -- and hello to Becky's Tallow Treasures laundry soap -- and know that you're making the best possible choice, for the environment as well as the health of your precious human body.
To your health and happiness!