I think I 'created' the perfect Fabric Softener :)

larsi_gwApril 20, 2011

As some of you know, I went natural a few weeks back. That article in Wired Magazine about how Fabric Softeners are made with animal fat totally grossed me out!

I have been using Ecover Sunny Day and Mrs. Meyer's softeners. Ecover is really bad at softening and the smell is almost non existant. Mrs. Meyer's smells great and it lasts...but it actually softens towels too much. For the first time ever, I understood absorbency issues with towels.

I LOVE the smell of the new Purex Crystals Fabric Softener Fresh Spring Waters (blue bottle)...and they are also 92% natural. The smell is awesome...a perfect marriage of Persil and Vernel Day at the Sea softener (since Henkel owns Persil, Vernel and Purex...they obviously share fragrances). BUT...they do not soften very well. Almost no softening IMO.

A-ha!!! I use a cap of Purex Softening crystals with whatever detergent I decide to use or play with...and then a cap of Seventh Generation Free & Clear Softener in the softener dispenser of my washing machine (a W4842 Miele).

NIRVANA!!! The smell of the crystals and the softness of liquid fabric softenere...and they are both "natural and green" products. I feel like a Chemist today!!!! ;)

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You apparently don't realize that the last two ingredients in the 7th Generation softener: methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone are neurotoxins. Although they are commonly used as "preservatives" in detergents, they are also used as a very strong biocide (POISON - to kill microbes) in industrial water treatment. The concentrations used in cooling towers are actually LOWER than the concentrations used in shampoos, liquid laundry detergents and softeners. In a cooling tower, for instance, we look for 10 - 20 ppm. You can expect 100 - 200 ppm in consumer products. This stuff is a sensitizer (it will make you more sensitive to other toxins and the effect increases with additional exposure) and a neurotoxin.

Good grief. Do people honestly turn their brains off as soon as they see the words NATURAL and GREEN? Cyanide is perfectly natural too - that doesn't mean you should eat it or bath in it. Manufacturers are using the words natural and green on everything right now, banking on the public being ignorant. Sadly, it is working.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 10:18PM
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While that may be true - I WILL investigate it for sure - certain products need preservatives.

Having worked in the health & beauty category for years, I know that preservatives are better than microbes growing in your face cream, shampoo, fabric softener ... what have you.

Yes, some people just assume what their told is true. That goes for green AND non-green products.

Everyone assumes if it's on the store shelves "some mystery agency" has tested it and it's safe.

The government is willing to sell consumers a lot of things the consumers have no idea about. They want to sell you genetically modified crops and not tell you. They want to sell you cloned meat and not tell you.

It is up to individuals to do their due diligence but doing that for every single thing you buy can be very time consuming.

I'm a freak for detail and I research everything to death. Not everyone has the time and certainly, many don't have the ambition.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 11:26PM
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BUZZKILL!!! I was so excited about my "perfect" new softener I created!!!! :-o


    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 1:12AM
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I have been using vinegar for my fabric softner. There is no smell after laundry is finished and it softens the clothes great and is less expensive by far and helps with my hard well water too!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 8:15AM
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Well Larsi, I guess your house will blow up one day soon and mine will be right behind you. I wonder if Holmes on homes can fix them for us LOL. I too experiement with products

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 8:41AM
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Larsi, it may contain methylisothiazolinone but it does not contain anything rendered from animal fat :)

I have contacted SG about this ingredient and we'll see what they have to say.

The buzz about this ingredient seems to go back several years - I found an article from 2005. Seventh Generation has been using it for longer than that so they must have a position on it.

Like I said, if these products don't contain a preservative they will most likely grow mirco organisms that you don't want to spread all over your laundry.

Is the only option vinegar? I mean how "natural" are you willing to go?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 9:28AM
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VINEGAR has been discussed so much on this forum, and it is Miele's official statement, that VINEGAR is not to be used in a Miele. According to Miele, they feel it is detrimental to seals and rubber components.

I have tried Vinegar, just to try it. NO softening, NO static reduction (although I usually have virtually no static issues). And while the vinegar smell mostly goes away after drying...the clothes for sure do no smell great. Honestly, Vinegar is pointless when used as a "softener"!

@ gates1...I LOVE Holmes on Homes! Yes, while I do my part for mother earth (solar panels, all efficient products, ULEV cars, etc...)...I love me some cleaning products. Our houses might self combust!

@ livebetter...No animal fat, YAY!! Methylisothiazolinine....phew! :)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 10:52AM
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It seems if your not a friggin chemist your just some idiot who believes everything you read. Is there not some middle ground? I appreciate the irony of this coming from me but you might consider dialing back the attitude when your offering info. Nothing about the original post or the info you provided really warranted the snarky tone. Thanks all the same.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 8:07PM
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caryscott - You are correct, a little over the top on attitude. I've had a long week of being beaten over the head by the smug "I'm so green I photosynthesize" group and took it out on a non-offending party. Politics, bad science and deliberate misinformation are really ticking me off lately. No excuse - my apologies to larsi.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 8:37PM
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I agree that all the "Green" and "Natural" is Bull-Hoggary!

Here's an easy tip: If you cannot pronounce it, don't use it! Simple as that.

Salt is a 100% NATURAL preservative and a softener as well (never used it in my laundry though). I don't use fabric softener, so I have no clue about that stuff. And, I'm not fond of scented laundry either - to me if it doesn't smell it's clean!

As for vinegar, I love the stuff, but I would be afraid to use it in any machine, since as an acid it may corrode parts.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 1:30AM
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Thank you Caryscott and also to aliceinwonderland. I also contacted Seventh Generation about the ingredients. I am awaiting a response. But they pride themselves on safety and resposibility. I guess, I am trusting them!!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2011 at 10:24AM
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@ aliceinwonderland_id

While the ingredient you cite may not be the greatest, don't you believe that having one "bad" ingredient in a product with an overall more natural formulation is a much better alternative to other commercially available products that contain many more toxic ingredients? Can't we all agree on at least that truth?

A product doesn't have to be 100% "green", "natural", "made of burlap" fiber chunky look-I-can-eat-my-detergent friendly in order to be better than the current crop of toxic products on the shelves. Seventh Generation is a MUCH better alternative, despite your drama about that one ingredient, than Snuggle, Downy and similar products. SG may not be perfect, but I also don't have so much helium in my brain to propose, as some have, that it's silly to use a product that has few toxic ingredients over one with many.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 7:03PM
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If you look at the toxicity of Downy Liquid April Fresh (I just picked one randomly) compared to Seventh Generation, looking at each individual chemical in each, you will find that the Downy contains irritants, while the Seventh Generation contains a neurotoxic poison. I don't use fabric softeners myself, but if I had to choose, I would choose irritants.

I will agree that an actually safer product is desirable. Who wouldn't? I will not agree that more natural is necessarily safer - depends on which natural chemicals we are talking about. I take issue particularly when a manufacturer chooses to label their product as green and natural in order to imply safety - it is deceptive at best. I do find it interesting that once people believe something is green and natural, simply because someone told them so, they will defend it vehemently despite evidence to the contrary.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 9:29PM
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Getting all rough and tumble over fabric softener! I love it!

OK, I happen to agree 100% with aliceinwonderland.

Not trying to have this thread fall down through the rabbit hole like the censored front loader post, though ;)

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 11:47AM
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@ aliceinwonderland_idIf you look at the toxicity of Downy Liquid April Fresh (I just picked one randomly) compared to Seventh Generation, looking at each individual chemical in each, you will find that the Downy contains irritants, while the Seventh Generation contains a neurotoxic poison. I don't use fabric softeners myself, but if I had to choose, I would choose irritants.Here's an excerpt from what I found on Wikipedia regarding methylisothiazolinone:Long-term health and safety studies have been conducted on animals, and thus far there is no evidence of nerve damage or neurological effects associated with MIT for consumers or workers... Regulatory authorities in the USA, Japan and Europe and more than 25 other countries have all independently concluded the product is safe... In 2004, the European Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers (SCCNFP) reported, "The SCCNFP is of the opinion that the proposed use of Methylisothiazolinone as a preservative at a maximum concentration of 0.01% (100 ppm) in the finished cosmetic product does not pose a risk to the health of the consumer."[3] The specific conclusions of this article are that: 1) data provided on physico-chemical properties on methylisothiazolinone are complete, 2) the percutaneous absorption study is inadequate. A 100% absorption (via the skin) is assumed, and 3) the in vivo unscheduled DNA synthesis assay is adequate. Methylisothiazolinone is considered non genotoxic/mutagenic.So while this ingredient may not be something you can pluck from your back yard and eat, it's clearly not something that should cause concern either. Anything can be toxic in a high enough concentration, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing when used in small amounts.

Sure it would be great if SG could remove this ingredient or substitute granola to give us all something to feel good about. However, on the whole, I have to say that I would much prefer a SG product over a P&G product. That preference has nothing to do with marketing hype, but everything to do with spending my money with companies that make an effort to do the right thing.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 11:55AM
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Clearly, you did not read the whole article or investigate beyond the surface. The "it's perfectly safe" comment was from the CFTA (Cosmetic, Fragance and Toiletry Association, which represents the interests of its member companies) making a political response to a scientific study conducted by the ASCB (American Society for Cell Biology, the purpose of which is to develop the field of cell biology through scientific and scholarly pursuit). The ASCB concluded that MI could indeed be a danger. Additionally, CFTA industries do not make their safety tests available to the public, nor have they been published in peer-reviewed literature, but the ASCB tests have been published, reviewed, and made available. I'll take science over politics any day. It is the same as the difference between the cigarette manufactures saying, "They won't hurt you! Smoke another!" and independent researchers saying, "Excuse me, but what about the lung cancer?" Independent, peer-reviewed testing is paramount.

There are plenty of products out there that do not use MI. Those that do choose to use MI are not doing so because it is the only option. They use it because it is easier to throw a poison in the mix at the end than it is to clean up their manufacturing and packaging process and use a safer preservative. There are other preservatives out there that do not pose the same risk.

SG's whole schtick is "Ours is safer, natural, green. Other companies are selling unsafe cleaning products, but not us." It doesn't necessarily jibe with the ingredients list.

I find your defense of SG's use of MI absolutely fascinating as it appears to prove my initial, albeit less than congenially conveyed, point.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 10:21PM
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This is SG's response to my question regarding the safety of the MI ingredient.

aliceinwonderland_id, are you saying they are liars?

Thanks for writing to us.

From all the information our environmental chemists have read on this it is a safe ingredient to use just as the article you attached points out. There is concern if too much of this ingredient is used but you won't find anymore than .01% in any of our products. This acts as a preservative in our products, giving them the shelf life of about 2 years. We are always looking for other preservatives, hopefully natural one day, that can take the place of this. At this time we do feel this is the safe alternative currently available.

Thanks for taking the time to share your concerns with us, please feel free to contact me if I can do anything else to help.

Sefton Hirsch
Customer Service
Seventh Generation

I think it's pretty easy to see how consumers become confused by products (and ingredients). It's VERY difficult to dig below and find out what's true.

What is Downy using as a preservative? As the wired article (on another post) pointed out - it takes a lot of chemicals to keep animal fat liquid and not rancid.

You really can't expect consumers to research and understand every single ingredient in every single product they buy can you?? At some point, they "trust" the companies they are buying them from (right or wrong).

When everyone has a "theory" about the ingredients it gets even more difficult.

I just discovered that a Charlie's Soap product contains butyl cellosolve. I've read plenty bad about that ingredient too but it's in TONS of products. Charlie's tout's themselves as safe and non-toxic.

Here is a link that might be useful: What's Inside - Downy Coats Briefs With Horse Fat

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 11:21AM
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Preservative manufacturers test their product efficacy - they are interested in how well they kill bacteria. Safety has not a big concern for them. Their safety studies are 10 - 90 days. How many cancers do you suppose develop in that amount of time? None, of course - good reason to keep those studies short. As to "theories" about ingredients - safety testing has been conducted by independent labs such as ASCB. It's not theory.

In my book, SG are either liars or misinformed. Don't you think that a company that supposedly prides itself on the safety of its products would be sure to dig a littler deeper? It's just not that difficult to find the information, particularly if it is your job to do so. I believe they are banking on the fact that their market base sees their name, associates it with safety and looks no further. They appear to be correct in that assessment. Not only do their base look no further on their own, they vehemently defend the company's choice of ingredients despite evidence to the contrary.

Benzisothiazolinone in Downy.

Both methylisothiazolinone and benzisothiazolinone in SG.

I don't use softeners from either company so really don't have a dog in the fight between the two of them. I just can't stand the duplicity I see here. P&G is saying Downy makes your clothes soft. SG is saying their softener is safer, non-toxic, biodegradable. That is where the problem lies. As you say, "you really can't expect consumers to research and understand every single ingredient in every product they buy" so we can, and should, hold companies to a higher standard, especially those marketing themselves as safer. It is plain false advertising, as far as I am concerned.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 12:20PM
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@ aliceinwonderland

So are we saying that a .01% concentration of methylisothiazolinone in SG's fabric softener means it can no longer be considered "safer, non-toxic, biodegradable"? The only truly safe, truly non-toxic product would allow you to eat or drink it in large quantities with no ill effects. The only product that I know of which meets that requirement is purified water.

Even "green" ingredients like sodium carbonate, citric acid, citrate, sodium sulphate, etc. probably cause injury or mutation if you are exposed to them in a high enough concentration. But at the concentrations used in the product, the product can be considered safe and non-toxic.

Where should we draw the line?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 4:07PM
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I must admit threads like this crack me up. "This product is greener than that because it's made with plant oils rather than animal oils" or "Well, the tiny bit of this neurotoxin makes me feel 'greener' than some of that eye irritant."

If there's anything we can conclusively derive from all this it's that "green" is completely and utterly open to interpretation, which is exactly what's going on here. After all, other than the color there is no standardized definition of it.

The problem arises when everyone starts arguing that "my interpretation or opinion is more right than yours." It's a nonsensical argument like "what's the best song in the world?" that cannot be won because there is no right answer.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 4:57PM
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Safer than what? The same chemical, when placed in water in an industrial cooling system, is not considered safe at 40 ppm (0.004%). Safer that other softeners, as their advertising states? Nope. Sorry. The dreaded P&G products use one preservative, slightly milder by comparison. So how, is SG safer, except that they say so? We should draw the line at selling a product under false pretenses, as I stated previously.

Some of SG's products can, indeed, be considered safer than readily available alternatives. The fabric softener just doesn't happen to be one of them. They have been called on it - they pulled an ad because of this very issue. Like I said earlier - SG has better alternatives that they have chosen not to use.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 5:08PM
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I enjoy a lively discussion. Especially when Wikipedia gets used as a source. Each side can go in and change that reference to say what they want it to say! LOL

And really, people are surprised that softeners contain tallow? This has been common knowledge and discussed here ad nauseum. In fact there's been a lot of people complaining that they couldn't get the "old" tallow based products in certain places anymore!

And so much of this just to be able to make your clothes stink. I usually want to wash my clothes when they smell. But, that's just me.

Walking down a laundry (or candle) aisle in a store makes me cough and choke. Can anyone honestly say this is good for us? I really wonder how many hang around these aisles and go ooooh, it smells so GOOOOOOOOD!!!

Carry on troops.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 4:09AM
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After reading cynic's comments ... I'm curious ... do European's LOVE scented laundry?

Why does Persil (or Miele) not offer an unscented version? I really love how Persil cleans and rinses but I can't love the smell. If it was available unscented I'd be super happy.

Can anyone shed some light? Why is that?

That's one thing that's nice about the "green" products. They have some scent but it's usually very faint and more "natural" smelling than the mainstream brands which can definitely "choke" me out with their pungent odor.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 8:53AM
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When I lived in Germany, and when I now visit family there and in Sweden...the laundry soaps they use (Persil, Ariel, Dash) are all very scented..but after drying the scent is quite low. I am still surprised that you find Persil strong after drying! A lot of us wish the scent of Persil would last longer. I honestly find the smell of Persil to be SO faint after drying. I would love Henkel to make a Persil scented fabric softener. Even if it was tallow based...I think I would use it just for the Persil scent!

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 10:22AM
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Just more proof how different all of our olfactory senses are.

I used to think maybe it was my machine but now even with my Miele W4842 on sensitive ... I still find Persil too much. Maybe I just don't like the scent?

I don't mind the Vaska scent at all. In fact, I love it.

All I know is if I wash my kids' clothes with Persil, I can smell it days later on them and I can't stand it. The gel is much worse than the megaperls ... OMG.

I do like some scent but much like real fragrance you should only be able to smell it when in very close proximity to someone. Not several feet away.

Persil Sensitive is a much more tolerable fragrance to me. Light and fresh. Unfortunately Henkel doesn't make a sensitive version with OBAs. They say to use the gel for colors but it does contain OBAs.

I do have the Persil Sensitive Color powder from Poland and like it a lot. It cleans/rinses well and smells perfect for me but it too contains OBAs.

There is no perfect detergent for everyone I guess.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 12:35PM
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Persil is definitely scented, but after washing in my W4842 very little of the scent remains. After drying I can barely detect any scent whatsoever. In fact, Vaska leaves a stronger scent in my laundry than Persil.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 12:53PM
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@livebetter - Have you ever tried ecoVantage detergent? There is absolutely no scent to it at all, but it contain enzymes and oxygen bleach which are allergy issues for some people. My appliance store/Miele dealer carries it, and we're trying some (along with the Persil & bioKleen). It seems to do a good job, but we're empty-nesters and our clothes don't get too dirty.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2011 at 4:38PM
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Absoluting right!! Everyone is using "Green" or "Natural" now and they ARE NOT necessarily Green or safe! People have to really read labels...but that won't always help because they don't have to put all the ingredients on the label...
If you want TRULY GREEN Products then look for EARTH FRIENDLY PRODUCTS (www.ecos.com)....they make ECOS laundry, Dishmate, Orange Plus etc...They are truly 100% ALL NATURAL made from plants without Formaldyhyde, Petrochemicals or 1,4 Dioxanne. PLUS! you don't even need a softener when you use the ECOS because it has a coconut oil softener already in it. So no static and clothes are soft! I buy my ECOS at Costco at a great price!
I have used them for years and they work!! Excellent company that is ethical and honest!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2012 at 7:37PM
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Birdie1162 said:If you want TRULY GREEN Products then look for EARTH FRIENDLY PRODUCTS (www.ecos.com)....they make ECOS laundry, Dishmate, Orange Plus etc...They are truly 100% ALL NATURAL made from plants without Formaldyhyde, Petrochemicals or 1,4 Dioxanne. PLUS! you don't even need a softener when you use the ECOS because it has a coconut oil softener already in it. So no static and clothes are soft! I buy my ECOS at Costco at a great price! Ecos is also one of the worst detergents in terms of its cleaning ability. It's right down there with Martha Stewart's crap. I would rather use a product that actually works.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2012 at 1:19PM
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Yep!! I think Ecos is horrible. Literally almost worse than washing with just water. Total crap!!!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 1:43AM
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Yes, tallow is in some fabric softeners. As gross as that may sound to some, it is not toxic. If it were, we would all die from breathing smoke from candles.

I use fabric softener in some loads (not all, never in towels). When I do, I use it half and half with white vinegar. Works great for me.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 11:35PM
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Not sure if this is an okay message for this post...but I found this thread very informative...does anyone have a view please on Seventh Generation laundry detergent from a nontoxic/green perspective please? We don't use fabric softeners but do use SG laundry detergent...We have allergies in our family and use detergents without perfumes...Thanks!!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 9:11PM
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Rule of thumb: never buy a product that has more than 5 ingredients listed.

Go outside and smell your dryer vent when it is exhausting fumes from your fabric softeners. Grab a chair, and see how well you will feel after you sit there for 20 minutes.

If you refuse to have this stuff venting into your own living room, DON'T put it into mother nature's living room!!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 10:32AM
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