My local shop has several new laundry powders including the Planet Ark Aware laundry powder for sensitive skin. Is the Planet Ark product the best choice in laundry powders? When using the Planet Ark product, can you safely recycle the wash water in your garden?
The packet says:
- No added fragrance
- No optical brighteners
- No enzymes
- No added dyes
- Low allergy
- Clinically tested
- Hot or cold water
- Renewable plant ingredients
- Contains zeolite
No Added Fragrance
This is good. There is no excuse for adding fragrance to a cleaning product. If the fragrance survives the cleaning process then it means the cleaning process is not effective. When the fragrance is completely removed from the clothes then there is no reason to add the fragrance.
I prefer the odourless smell of clean clothes to the stink added by a marketing executive.
No Optical Brighteners
Optical brighteners add an artificial colour to your clothes. Clearly if the optical brightener survives the wash, then the wash is not effective. Optical brighteners only work in some light. Your skin is constantly exposed to the optical brighteners but there is no requirement to test the optical brighteners for their carcinogenic effects.
Our body and food are both full of enzymes so why are people against enzymes in washing powder? Our body uses enzymes to digest protein and similar enzymes are added to washing powder to remove protean. If a washing powder contains no enzymes then it should state what it uses to remove protein.
Yes, the manufacturers should state the types of enzymes and the source of the enzymes but the real fear with enzymes are the result of the enzymes blowing around in the air and entering your lungs due to poor manufacturing processes and awful packaging. All the ingredients of laundry powder are dangerous when breathed in on a regular basis.
Fiona sent in the following comment on enzymes.
I know for nappies, enzyme free is important, because if the detergent is not rinsed thoroughly from the nappies, when they become wet, the enzymes will leak onto and attack your babies skin & the baby will get a bad rash.
I had an itchy experience with with a different washing powder when I first used my current washing machine, an LG Intello. I washed fabric (cotton) on the standard wash/rinse cycle and the clothes made my skin itch. I washed them again turning on the extra rinse cycle and they did not itch. I tried different brands and found one that rinsed clean without the extra rinse cycle. I wonder if the problem was enzymes not rinsing out?
No Added Dyes
Some manufacturers added blue dye because some people think blue tinted white clothes look whiter than natural white clothes. You should never add any dyes to washing products and, if the dyes cling to the fabric, then the washing product has failed to keep your clothes clean.
The package should say more than no
added dyes, it should say no dyes of any sort or from any source.
Good but what is low? The bottom of the Planet Ark box states the name of the person performing a test on the product, the opinion of that person, and a reference to testing on people who react adversely to competing products.
Low is meaningless because there is not standard for low. The fact that this product does not irritate people who are irritated by other products is a meaningful comparison. If other laundry powers irritate your skin then try this laundry powder.
Note that this product has stupid packaging and may get up your nose when you open the packet. If you are sensitive then have someone else open the packet and pour the contents into a safer container.
Overall, this package provides more information about their allergy testing than most other products labelled as low allergy. There is a link to a Web site on the bottom of the packet.
Clinically tested is an abused term, I and many thousands of other people know how to make a clinical test indicate anything. Normally the term is used in isolation without any references you can check but Planet Ark included a reference. I would believe them more than the anonymous statements stamped on other brands.
There is no such thing as a concentrated laundry powder, there is only normal laundry powder and diluted laundry powder. In Australia, laundry powder can be legally diluted with cheap useless ingredients commonly called fillers. When laundry powders are labelled concentrates, they are just ordinary laundry powders without the useless fillers.
The manufacturer can choose cheap weak ingredients as a substitute for slightly less cheap strong ingredients. Manufacturers often add dirty chemicals to make lots of foam, even though the foam decreases the effectiveness of the wash and the chemicals waste a lot of rinse water, because some customers think foam indicates an effective product.
Hot or Cold Water
Your laundry powder has to work anywhere from zero degrees, during winter in the southern parts of Australia, up to 90 degrees when the average washing machine is set to maximum temperature. Some chemical reactions kick in at 20 degrees Celsius while other work at higher temperatures. A
hot or cold laundry product cannot be sensitive to temperature or change the way it works at different temperatures and cannot use chemicals that are sensitive to heat. I tested the product in cold Sydney tap water but that is not the same as the colder water in Melbourne or the almost freezing water in Hobart.
One part of the Planet Ark packet states the product is renewable because it uses plant materials but another part states it contains zeolite and limestone, but neither zeolite nor limestone is renewable. We have billions of tons of limestone worldwide. Is zeolite that plentiful?
Zeolite is a sticky molecule that makes dirt clump together. You can clear the muddy water in a dam by pouring in zeolite but the mud falls to the bottom of the dam, something you would not want in your washing machine. Zeolite can also work as a water softener by replacing calcium with sodium but the calcium laden molecule has to go somewhere.
Zeolite can contain a wide range of metals. You would not want zeolite in water that you are recycling on vegetables, herbs, or fruit, unless you could be sure the zeolite is free from mercury, cadmium, and other heavy metals. Australian zeolite suppliers generally list the metals in their zeolite and they are clean. If the Planet Ark product contained some sort of guarantee that the ingredients do not contain heavy metals or that the zeolite is from a reputable Australian supplier, we could feel safe using the product and recycling the water.
The box is a rip-around-the-top box made of cardboard. There is no protection from the humid Sydney November-December weather or the recent humidity from continuous rain. The competitors use waxed paper or have plastic liners and are easier to use as a result. When using the competitors, you do not have to break up big damp clumps or scrape the inside of the box to get all the contents out of the box. I prefer several of the competitors and will not buy the Planet Ark product again in Sydney. The packaging might be acceptable in a drier part of Australia.
When you rip around the top of the box, some of the power spills out. They need a thinner rip strip closer to the top of the box so the rip is above the top of the contents even when the contents are bounced around or swelled by moisture.
If you are old, you might remember when an American company, Amway, sold a laundry powder successfully against local products. The American product was overpriced but it was granulated instead of powdered. When you poured the product, you did not end up with a nose full of fine powder, you did not sneeze for ten minutes after opening the packet. Planet Ark should learn from that 30-year-old improvement and make their powder courser so it does not gust up our noses. If Planet Ark insist on a annoyingly fine powder then change the packaging so less laundry dust escapes when opening the packet.
There is nothing on the packet to guarantee the product is Australian made. This is exactly the type of product you do not want to import because of the extreme waste of energy produced by shipping heavy products internationally. There are real dangers from using products from countries where there are no safety requirements imposed on their exports and we frequently see examples resulting from the almost complete lack of testing of imports. The Planet Ark Web site says the product is Australian made but Web sites can be out of date. I will not buy the product until individual packets are labelled with their source.
The common Australian washing machine is a 5 kilogram front loader because front loaders use less water than top loaders. Planet Ark recommend 22.5 grams of their laundry powder for a 5 kilogram front loader washer and that gives you 66 washes from their 1.5 kilogram packet, comparable with the best of the competitors. The price is also competitive.
Some of the competitors recommend more powder for the same size washing machine. Some of the competitors are half filled with inert junk and require double the usage. You then pay for the transport of double the weight of material and waste twice the packaging. Planet Ark makes your shopping bag lighter, reduce carbon production by transport companies, and reduce the production of packaging.
I found the Planet Ark product works using the recommended quantity of powder while some other products require up to fifty percent more than the recommended quantity. The Planet Ark blend of ingredients is effective in a regular Sydney cold wash while some competitors do not wash as clean unless you use hot water or use more than the recommended amount.
Recycling the Water
You can recycle the waste water from your washing machine on many decorative plants but not on vegetables, fruit trees, or herbs. The chemicals from the laundry powder build up in the soil and soak through plants into the edible portion. At high levels, sodium and other ingredients will kill plants before the plants bear fruit or flowers. You want a laundry powder low in sodium, phosphate, and other dangerous chemicals.
The Planet Ark product meets all the requirements for safe recycling except perhaps the zeolite, which is of unknown origin and quality. For most other products, you are not told the ingredients, let alone the quality of the ingredients. Planet Ark are leading the field for honest disclosure and are way ahead of the big foreign multinationals with their anonymous packets.
There are a lot of good reasons to use the Planet Ark Aware Sensitive Skin laundry powder but the packaging lets the product fail in humid Sydney summers and the fine powder make the product dangerous to your nose. I could not recommend the product for use in Sydney or other humid areas until they improve the packaging. Due to the fine powder irritating my nose, I will not recommend the product until they granulate the product or product an easier to open packet. If you want to recycle your wash water on your garden, then the Planet Ark product is one of the safest.