Saturday, May 17, 2008

the good and bad on OxiClean

I have never been all that good at getting clothes clean. I am good with the general dirt and stink, but stains have always resisted my efforts. I realized at one point that the problem might have been in my "collective" approach to laundry. I do sort by color, but after that I push a button and expect the machine to do the job to the load. I don't read the labels much and sort of figure that the socks, shirts and pants are all "in it together". 

Unfortunately, I have learned that getting clothes clean requires individualized attention. I asked a friend (whose lack of stains on her children I admired) what she does and she said that every night she collects the clothes from her four children and inspects for stains. All stained clothes get a treatment of OxiClean for the night and then get washed later. I finally decided to try a stain remover and this approach thinking that using a chemical might be justifiable over throwing out perfectly good but stained clothes. It was magic! I think the biggest factor is simply soaking it right away, but the stuff worked great. 

Since then I have been using OxiClean guiltily thinking it was probably nasty for the environment but possibly justifiable until I got around to a more Green alternative. I told myself that it was certainly better than using bleach. Writing this blog got me looking into the ingredients in my beloved stain remover. 

The Good News: OxiClean is described by some as an "environmentally friendly, natural" product. I was thrilled to find that OxiClean contains two active ingredients: Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate. The first is baking soda and the second is washing soda. This stuff is just what my grandma used!  These substances form oxygen, hydrogen peroxide and soda ash when mixed with water.  The oxygen is what cleans and brightens. There are no phosphates or bleach, which are two of the worst environmental offenders in most laundry products. 

The Bad News: What is not clear is what other fragrances or other ingredients might also be in there, but I am assuming there is something as it smells like more than baking soda and works better too. The container doesn't say what else is in there so that is a bit concerning. They do sell a "free" product without the dyes and fragrances, so by default it must be in the original. There is also a newer version apparently with "little blue crystals".  No idea what that is but it sends off some warning lights to me. It is also not clear if the product also contains surfactants, which have a negative environmental impact. The fact that I can't get an accurate ingredient list makes me more concerned than anything.  Also it is sold in a plastic container that is not recyclable. 

I am certainly no expert on this and my research involves a brief before-breakfast search so I'd love to hear from others if you know differently or if you know of a more green product that works well and especially where to buy it locally. Looks like lots of other green household products contain the two active soda ingredients. Do they work as well without the "mystery ingredients? 

16 comments:

Michael said...

You can get a non-plastic tub version in the jumbo stores. It comes in a cardboard box and inside is a plastic bag. That is at least slightly more recyclable.

Unfortunately the jumbo size tends not to be the "free and clear" type version - and I've found the blue things to be both odd and irritating. For some reason when thrown in the wash first with cold water they form hard chunks that do not dissolve.

Love the free and clear stuff though - and thanks for the ingredient info. I too was using it guiltily not knowing the eco-impact.

Cheryl said...

I thought that Sodium Percarbonate is the same thing as disodium peroxydicarbonate, which, when mixed with water, makes hydrogen peroxide.

I think that baking soda is bicarbonate, not dicarbonate. I could be wrong, but that's what I've been reading on other sites.

Phyuck said...

bicarbonate is the same thing as dicarbonate. bi- and di- both mean 'two of'

akayama said...

Cheryl is correct.

Sodium bicarbonate is more correctly called sodium hydrogen carbonate. It has a pH roughly neutral.

Sodium peroxycarbonate is oxygenated sodium carbonate, and it takes two carbonate ions to hold onto a peroxide.

Heidi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heidi said...

There is a line of products that remove stains and ordors, is eco-friendly and the company is green. I use Pre-spot to remove stains. Sol-U-Mel to remove ordors. And MelaPower and Soft to wash my laundry. There isn't a stain or ordor that I have not been able to remove. And the best thing is that it all arrives on my doorstep and because everything is concentrated, I save money. It is a wonderful company that cares about the environment and you. If you would like to learn more, please inquire and I will point you in the right direction.

Ben said...

The main ingredient that is useful is the sodium percarbonate. According to what I've read, it breaks down in water into hydrogen peroxide (which accomplishes the "oxygen cleaning," whatever that is but it does work), and soda ash, or washing soda, which is a common ingredient in many homemade cleaners. You are basically dealing with a soap and hydrogen peroxide combination.

So that all sounds good to me. The problem lies with all the other stuff, and I am never comfortable with using a product that contains undisclosed ingredients. So why not just buy the sodium percarbonate directly (online) and skip the rest? This is what I am going to do. One caution: I have read that pure sodium percarbonate is very concentrated so be sure to check this out if you buy.

I'll use up my small tub of oxi clean over the next few years, probably at the laundromat on some white rugs I have. Or put it out in front of my house -- I don't know.

Missy said...

I did a simple search on amazon for Sodium percarbonate, a product called Oxo-Brite came up. After a quick google search I found the product website: http://www.ecos.com/oxo.html#spec
It looks like this is oxyclean without all the mystery ingredients, made by a company that is concerned with being Eco-freindly. It says the plastic tub is recycleable and every ingredient is eco-friendly. Just wanted to share this if you haven't already found it yourself.

Anonymous said...

I've also used a product called oxyboost by natural choices. Haven't bought it in a while bc I have a huge box of oxi lean. It's ingredients are all listed. I believe there are only a couple. And it's much better for the environment.

Anonymous said...

I've also used a product called oxyboost by natural choices. Haven't bought it in a while bc I have a huge box of oxi lean. It's ingredients are all listed. I believe there are only a couple. And it's much better for the environment.

Lisa said...

https://wercs.churchdwight.com/webviewer.external/private/document.aspx?prd=ING-1605%7E%7EPDF%7E%7EMTR%7E%7EING%7E%7EEN%7E%7E2010-01-15%2011%3A22%3A38%7E%7EOXICLEAN%20VERSATILE%20STAIN%20REMOVER%7E%7E&productName=oxiclean&productName_option=d__value~&productID_option=d__value~&language=d__EN&hidRequiredList=ConcatedValue%20=&queryString=language=EN

gloria said...

I live in California and have a couple citrus trees in my back yard. I use lemons daily, to freshen up and clean everything from the kitchen disposal, degreasing the stove top and counters as well as brightening my whites. I squeeze lemon juice onto the stain(s) and make a paste of borax and water and scrub the stain briefly (anywhere from ten seconds to no more than a minute depending on size and stubbornness). The stain at this point may still show up and even only had barely started to disappear, BUT the magic ingredient is to leave it out in the sun light with the stain remover still on it. Any where from ten mintues to a couple hours and the stain is gone. Then throw into washer with a load (or wash by hand). Extremely rare that I need to repeat it just once more, but usually on an older stain. I have gotten everything from blood, grease, chocolate and much more. I love to throw a splash of lemon, grapefruit or an Orange essential oil into my washing machine along with a quarter cup ( I measure it with my hand as a scoop) of borax to each wash. Sometimes I use lavender essential oil instead if the clothes don't need the boost of degreasing/whitening of citrus.

Anonymous said...

Sodium percarbonate is NOT baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Sodium percarbonate is a compound which contains 2 parts sodium carbonate (washing soda) and 3 parts hydrogen peroxide. When you add water the compound separates into sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide acts as a bleach and a disinfectant.

Anonymous said...

Your exactly right bake soda is sodium bicarbonate. But sodium percarbonate is baking soda and peroxide. Peroxide by itself is H3O. I am a chemistry major.

AnaLiza said...

No. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. Washing soda is sodium carbonate. Hydrogen Peroxide is H2O2. Sodium percarbonate is Na2CO3.H2O2 (adduct of washing soda and hydrogen peroxide).

Laurie said...

After having cancer at a young age, I started looking for safe, healthy products for my home and young family. Luckily a friend told me how I could shop online from a company that had what I was searching for at wholesale prices. I have a science background so after much research I have now been using these in my home for 19 years. Great company with the science behind it. I can show you where to look.