Can Non-Toxic Detergent Really Handle My Stinkiest Workout Clothes? I Had to Find Out
No judgment, but I'm skeptical non-toxic detergents are actually up to the job. I mean, I sweat a lot when I work out. Could something made primarily with plant essences handle that? When I heard about Laundress' special Sport Detergent, I was curious. An all-natural product promising to leave gym clothes smelling like eucalyptus? Again, I was skeptical.
The product's ingredients list plant-derived anionic and nonionic surfactants, stain-fighting and cleaning enzymes (protease, amylase, cellulase, lipase), mineral-derived cleaning enhancers (sodium gluconate, and calcium chloride), essential oils, and fragrance. I sent the list over to environmental therapist and health advisor Gay Browne to find out if it was, in fact, non-toxic. Her verdict was inconclusive. "I'm not sure about the cellulase or fragrance ingredients," she says, indicating that she would need to know more information on what they're made from. Still, she's into the product. "How exciting that Laundress has created a eco-new sports detergent," she says. "The more people who strive to use eco-friendly household products the better it is for the health of families and the planet."
I also emailed Laundress for more info, curious as to how exactly the product worked. "The Laundress Sport Detergent is a nontoxic, plant-based formula packed with stain-fighting and cleaning enzymes," wrote a rep from the brand. "It’s also free of parabens, petroleum, phosphate, phthalates, and artificial color. The detergent is scented in our 'Sport' scent, a fresh, crisp blend of leafy greens, orange, rose, eucalyptus, and jasmine with undertones of musk. Whether you cycle, swim, run, or Om, you’ll be smelling fresh—both during and after a workout." I had to admit, all of that sounded pretty great. I was ready to give it a try.
Fortunately, I had a laundry basket full of damp gym clothes ready. I threw 'em in the wash along with four small caps full of the sports detergent, as the instructors directed. Cut to roughly two hours later with me reaching into the dryer—I didn't use a dryer sheet to keep the experience purely about the sports detergent—to pull out my freshly washed clothes. So, did they smell like eucalyptus, rose, and jasmine as promised? Not exactly. While the clothes seemed clean, they didn't have that satisfying, just-washed smell.
Not ready to give up, I decided to try another product Laundress sent me, a Sport Spray. "[It] has antibacterial properties to freshen activewear and workout equipment between washing," the brand rep told me. "It’s small enough to throw into your gym bag so it’s ideal for removing odors while adding a fresh scent between workout classes and while you are on the go." I decided to test the sports spray against the smelliest workout ever: boxing.
I never smell as disgusting as I do after boxing. The boxing gym I go to isn't cute like Rumble or Shadowbox; there's no air-conditioning—and I live in the South. The smell of sweat lingers on my clothes long after class. In fact, my clothes are so gross that I hate even putting them in the hamper with my other, less-sweaty-but-still-dirty ones. After boxing, I striped down and liberally spritzed the sports spray all over my gross clothes. And you know what, when I walked by 15 minutes later, they did smell like eucalyptus. While the detergent didn't exactly blow my mind, the Sport Spray worked well enough (from what I could tell) that after spraying, I felt much better about mixing it with my other clothes.
After the whole experience, I'm still relying on my old brand to do the washing, but I have started using the Sport Spray post-workout. I think of it like the dry shampoo of laundry: it does the job of holding you over—but you'll eventually still need a good wash.
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