We all know the benefits of goat milk for your skin but did you know that treating your laundry to a goat milk bath can be beneficial to the environment, your health, skin conditions, and even your wallet? You may currently be washing your clothes in skin irritants, respiratory irritants, central nervous system toxins, carcinogens, and… jet fuel byproducts?

History of Laundry Detergent

It sounds like a nightmare but I’m not kidding. Time for a history lesson. Rewind to Germany during WWI. The allied forces imposed a blockade to limit resources from reaching the Central Powers. It worked and the result was massive food shortages. At the time, the most common soap recipe mixed animal fats with lye.  The country became so short of fats that soap became a rationed amenity.

It was then that German scientists began to experiment with alternative sources of cleaning agents. One of which was made from the bile of slaughtered cows (yeah, that ought to make the clothes smell good)

Following WWI Proctor and Gamble decided the Germans were on to something and started their own research into detergents. They found what they needed. Apparently an increase in jet fuel production during WWII left quite a bit of jet fuel by-products that needed a market. That’s right, they sold it back to the American people in the form of laundry detergent!

Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Among the other ingredients in modern laundry products are the following: skin irritants, carcinogens like formaldehyde (remember the frogs in high school science lab?), sodium laurel sulfate, CNS (central nervous system) toxins like chloroform, a substance called benzene which causes leukemia, and fragrances linked to hormone disruption and respiratory irritation.

According to a study cited by CBS, every time you wash your clothes it releases these chemicals into the air, making them airborne. The study also states that these chemicals are essentially unregulated and can be legally undisclosed. It’s a chemical mess, and while your clothes may come out absent of stains or “dirt” they also come out loaded with chemicals. Those chemicals aren’t as easy to remove as plain ole’ dirt either. It can take as many as ten washings to remove toxic chemicals from clothes. Some won’t leave completely even with ten washings!

Clothes loaded with skin irritating chemicals can play more of a roll than you might think on your health. Many people suffering from eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, dry skin, RADS, COPD, allergies and asthma have found that simply eliminating chemicals from the laundry cleared up their symptoms.

Environmental Effects of Laundry Detergent Chemicals

We found this to be true in our own family. Two of our three girls suffered from conditions (asthma and eczema) that vanished after we decided to ditch the laundry detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets.

The chemicals in traditional laundry detergent affect more than just people. The EPA lists several of the chemicals in laundry detergents and softeners as being hazardous. Studies and reports have found that they cause everything from algae blooms to fish kills. As little as 5 parts-per-million can kill fish eggs, and at 2 parts-per-million fish are absorbing and retaining double the chemicals they normally would. Fresh fish anyone?

Traditional DIY Laundry Soap – The Alternative to Laundry Detergent

Needless to say, after a little research we found more than enough reasons to switch to natural laundry soap. The first stop… the classic Fels Naptha recipe, but a little more research caused us to steer clear. Fels Naptha contains many ingredients you may not be aware of. It contains talc…a mineral powder that has been linked to ovarian cancer. It also contains a sneaky ingredient: “fragrance.” Any fragrance not listed as natural or naturally-derived can contain anything from endocrine disrupting phthalates to carcinogens. Proprietary laws protect most “fragrance” ingredients; therefore, we may never know what they truly contain.

Environmental impact was another of the issues with laundry detergents that we wanted to avoid. Fels Naptha and many other soaps contain palm oil. The palm oil trade is the leading cause of tropical deforestation and destruction of wildlife habitats. Steering clear of palm oil in our home and products is a major issue for us. It’s time to get down and dirty with laundry science and come up with a better solution.

While soap and baking soda clean laundry well, it usually doesn’t contain an ideal PH balance, stain removal or fabric softening properties.  (Crispy bath towel anyone?)

The Best Alternative:  Goat Milk Laundry Soap

Enter goat milk!

A powerful cleaning agent used as a natural anti-bacterial cleanser is lactic acid. Did you know that lactic acid forms naturally in milk? When milk starts to ferment, lactic acid forms. The lactic acid produced in slightly aged goat milk works for everything from PH balancing, to fabric softening and cleaning.

Wait… did we say fabric softening? Yes, we sure did! Adding goat milk soap to our laundry formula eliminated the need for fabric softeners and dryer sheets! Not only did we eliminate all the toxins in those products, but suddenly our wallets got a big break too! One product replaced THREE others and it was cleaner, safer, and healthier.

But did it work? Well, there’s no one better to test that than a family full of farmers and test it we did! Read more on that fun story (piglets, and all!) on our blog post about Airing Dirty Laundry.

Our custom goat milk laundry soap is available in a two pound pre-mixed bag. For those who aren’t afraid of a little elbow grease, we sell the blocks of soap you can shred yourself. It comes with mixing instructions and makes the soap very economical. Or, if you have your own recipe you like, it makes a great addition to your current laundry routine.

So go ahead and add a little milk to the laundry… you won’t smell like a goat either,  but if you have a favorite scent you can always add a drop or two of essential oil available here.