Thursday, April 29, 2010

word of the day: antimicrobial

image found here
I received this email from a fellow police wife, Luralyn.
my husband (currently at academy) just learned that he should be using antimicrobial laundry detergent on his uniform, especially if there is a chance anything that antimircrobial detergent would be necessary to eliminate is on it. But we have a front loader, which means high efficiency detergent... plus I couldn't figure out what detergent is anti-microbial. Anyways, I'd appreciate thoughts from the police wife blog family on how they wash the uniforms in their house to be safe without going overboard on chemicals (I had been trying to eliminate them from the home, but apparently I don't get to).
Fortunately for us, HF's department has a laundry service. At the end of a shift they can put their uniforms into a bag with their identifying information attached. Sometime in the night, the magic laundry elves come and gather the uniforms and when the officer arrives for their next shift, hanging in front of their locker is a nicely pressed and cleaned uniform. Isn't that incredible? I think so. However, that doesn't mean I don't have my fair share of on the job nastiness to wash on ocassion. So I have often wondered about this myself.

Is it enough to wash the uniforms separately from everything else? Do you always run a hot water rinse cycle after you wash work related laundry? Is bleach a necessity in this line of work? Or are there other options? (Mamma Val and Rebecca I know you guys have touched on the laundry topic in posts and/or comments). It seems like I heard that vinegar is good for cleaning laundry. Or is it for a rinse cycle?

We are a sensitive skinned family so we have to use natural detergents. Tide seems to be everyone's favorite detergent for cleanliness. To tree huggers, Seventh Generation is quickly becoming the preferred eco-friendly brand. We have family and friends that have been making their own detergent. Not only is it made with minimal ingredients, it is also friendly to your wallet, being that you can make a large batch and use a couple of Tablespoons at a time for each load. You can also put it in an a cute glass jar or other container so it dresses up your laundry room/area. It is essentially Fels Naptha soap, Borax, and  washing soda. You can also add essential oils (which supposedly have antimicrobial agents) for scent. Here is a list of 10 homemade laundry detergent recipes from Tipnut.

Another thing that I have been hearing more and more about that I actually would like to try is soap nuts. I found this explanation to be pretty cool (found here).

Soap nuts might be new on the market but they’ve have been a staple in South Asian communities for many centuries. The soap nut is the dried fruit of the Ritha (Sapindus mukorrosi) tree, a tropical, deciduous tree native to Asia. When dried soap nuts are exposed to water, they release saponins which act as a natural surfactant, reducing surface tension and allowing dirt and oils to detach from clothing.
Soap nuts are a product of nature and are completely pure, containing no additives, fragrances, or chemicals. They also have antimicrobial properties and are 100% biodegradable.
To use soap nuts, simply place 2-3 whole nuts in a re-usable cotton bag and add it to the washing machine. When used in cold water cycles, soap nuts can be reused 4-5 times, but only 2-3 times when used in warm water washes. Between washes, remove nuts from the cotton bag and let air dry.
These natural gems can be purchased at most health food stores and on many websites.
Isn't that interesting? I thought so at least. I think buying these are pricier, but since you can reuse the nuts a few times, it might end up being cost effective.

Please share how you handle the police laundry at your home.

Thanks for your email Luralyn. Best wishes for you and your husband while he's in the academy!


Dori said...

How do we handle police laundry? Open washer door, shove in dirty clothes (preferably separated into Darks and Not Darks), add detergent--we use a free and clear eco brand (not 7th gen, don't like it for clothes)for our front loader--push button and walk away. And we only use cold water. Hope that helps! :)

My husband wears cotton utilities for the most part (and those go straight from body to dirty clothes hamper). His wool uniform typically goes to the dry cleaners. When the babies were babies their clothes were washed separately--just to be on the safe side. But we've never stressed about what's on the clothes. If there's ever anything questionable, he strips and showers before anything can be introduced to the rest of us.

Most importantly--he irons his own uniform. Always. I'd just screw it up.

Momma Fargo said...

I use Mrs. Meyers or Caldrea brands with essential oils. They are expensive, but they work great and with the front end loader...I can make them last longer because you use less detergent. I would also recommend dry cleaning. Both I have found kill the bugs. And don't wash the uniforms with other clothes.

If you are super sensitive to what lurks in the a load empty after the uniforms with Freshwave laundry additive. It's on the internet. If you need a link me, be happy to send you to all the websites. Most of this is sold at Whole Foods if you are interested.

Jackie said...

I don't deal with police laundry, but I wash scrubs on a weekly basis so i'm going to comment because icky bugs and icky bigs no matter where you pick them up.

I always wash them in their own load and they even have their own laundry basket. I have a HE front loading washer as well most of then have a "Sanitize" cycle. It uses "Super hot" water to clean the items as well as an extra rinse. I just use regular soap, and then put half of 1/4 cup of vinegar in the fabric softner slot. Not only will your close be clean, but it will soften them as well. The extra rinse will also get rid of the Vinegar smell so you don't walk around smelling like french fries...

hope that helps


KD said...

Don't get me started on how bad triclosan (common "antibacterial") is for you and the environment. Why do you think we have "super bugs" which are resistant to antibiotics now?? Ok, like I said, don't get me started.

At our house "regular" unis go to the dry cleaners and BDUs get washed in the hottest I can stand in "free and clear" detergent for our sensitive skin(s). We use coin-op machines so I figure there is just as much nastiness in those as he might have in his own clothes. ugh. gross gross!

Cop Mama said...

My uniform pants and shirts go to the drycleaners. Socks, undershirt, ect washed in hottest possible water with liquid tide.

If I ever got blood (not mine) on ANYTHING, I just threw it out at HQ. We get reimbursed for uniforms shirts/pants that have biohazard.

Anonymous said...

I'm with KD on the overuse of Antibiotics and Antimicrobials making us more vulnerable to scarier and scarier superbugs! We should really stop putting that triclosan in soaps and stuff. I stopped using it long ago.

I use coin-operated h.e. machines in my condo complex, so I guess I've got all kinds of yuckiness in my clothes and my dog's bedding that I wash in there, too. No cop clothes for me, but my first graders carry some pretty foul bugs on their bodies, I'm sure!

That tip about the nuts is fascinating!! I gotta look into those!

Anonymous said...

We take 100& of 5oh's uniforms in for dry cleaning and I just wash the unders and socks in loads by color (didnt think it was gross-- i could be wrong). Because it is for a job ALL uniform costs -fittings, tailors, purchases, dry cleaning-- on your taxes. Its worth it to not have to wory about washing it, keeping its color, ironing the creases, etc etc. 5oh handles all the dropping off and picking up of his uniforms (lucky me!)

Momma Val said...

They go in the machine with everything else UNLESS there is really gross funk of some sort on the uniform, then they go in alone OR if he was shooting then they are supposed to be washed separate from our clothes so our clothes don't get lead on them. The shirts are polyester so they just get hung up and then worn again but the pants go to the cleaners to get pressed. My husband also wears the same shirt and pants for several days as long as they don't get funky with ? or summer sweat. And the only thing we ever get in the washer are maybe a gum wrapper here and there. Not all the fun stuff that turns up in your washer. Oh and we also use scented detergent. I never liked it but then Cop Dad wants his uniforms and briefs and socks and undershirts to smell nice cause he is wearing so much stuff he sweats and he says some of the other cops smell not so nice. And I was not about to be doing several washloads PLUS buying different detergent too. Forget it. We have one detergent, regular washer and dryer. OK, think I answered all your questions. I have learned that natural soaps do not rinse out of polyester well and tend to build up and make us break out. They also build up in your washer. I think there are remedies for that but we just use whatever is on sale and no fabric softener. OK, done now :)

Momma Val said...

Oh, beside this, I only use natural cleaners in the house (Bon Ami, vinegar, Holy Cow, Meijer Naturals Dish Soap, baking soda, Simple Green, Borax, etc.) Not fancy but natural. Was a free and clear (generic detergent) girl before.

MONICA-LnP said...

Ditto to 5ohWIFEY!

Deputy's Wife said...

Thank goodness for me that hubby's department has them dry cleaned for them. I'm a disaster when it comes to laundry.

Anonymous said...

this is a very interesting post. at first i did worry about how to wash hubby's uniform. i didn't want to ruin it, i wanted it to be very clean and i did wash it separately.

not anymore.

now i just shove it in with the rest of the darks. i hang most of my laundry out to dry on the line, but i do put his uniform in the dryer.

we use "eco" laundry soap that i buy at costco. i love that it has no scent and it's gentle on the clothes and on our sensitive skin.

i'm also lucky because it's rare that hubby has to do anything too dirty here in our county. if he does have a bloody scene, then i do wash his clothes separately. (we also set up a bucket with bleach water that he puts his boots... just the bottoms... in.) and i use white vinegar! it's wonderful stuff... i use it for every house hold chore.

anyway! interesting post! i enjoyed it ;)