Jhaag achche hain? Lake-friendly substitutes to detergent that may just stop all the foaming

Maybe that “ek chammach” for “safedi” laundry detergent you are soaking your clothes in isn’t that harmless after all.

Would you drink a glass of detergent water? Crazy question right?

Not really.

That’s pretty much what you are doing now anyways. By tossing one little spoon of detergent powder in the washing machine, you are releasing into the environment additional chemicals that will eventually find their way back into your drinking water and your own body. Just look at our froth, foaming Bangalore lakes, writhing in fiery discomfort.

There’s a heavy price to be paid for that clean white shirt. Detergents contain surfactants, the suds-makers that actually damage our immune system. Among other harmful chemicals that detergents carry are phosphates, ammonia, naphthalene, phenol, optical brighteners, and artificial fragrances.

No, this is not about predicting doomsday, or talking about the #1 reason for people to fall ill: heck, road accidents cause more deaths in India than anything else. But it is true that our bodies, water and the environment are being bombarded with chemicals. And we can certainly have less of that.

So, how do I cut down on the use of detergent?

Well there are ways as well as eco-friendly products that you can use as substitutes. If you are possessive about your detergent brand and unwilling to experiment with substitutes, try the following tips:

1) Use less detergent than that recommended by the manufacturer. Not every shirt of yours sports tough stains but every grain in a detergent is ‘over engineered’ to remove blotches, whether they exist or not. Use your discretion.
2) For daily wear clothes that are not soiled, use just half or even a quarter of the amount recommended by the manufacturer.
3) For stained clothes, treat the soiled patches before dumping them in the washing machine. Vinegar is one helluva stain wiper!
4) Sun-dry white clothes. The scorcher lightens stains and even burns up bacteria while drying your clothes.

Many eco-friendly substitutes to detergent spare the environment and leave the texture and colours of your clothes intact.

1) Make a paste of white vinegar, detergents and baking soda. Use a toothbrush, dip it into this paste, and scrub your clothes clean!

2) There are many eco-friendly waterless carwash products on the market, but you can make your own cleaner version at home by mixing a quarter cup of vinegar, a half teaspoon of natural liquid soap, and two cups of water. Simply mist your car with your home-made spray-on cleaner, and wipe the grit and dirt away with a clean cloth. Follow up with a buff from a new clean cloth, and your car will be shining in no time — with no wastewater flow. Read more about washing cars without detergent here.

3) Krya


Chennai-based Krya Consumer Products LLP has a natural detergent powder, which is made of organic soap berries. A 400-gm pack of Krya detergent powder costs Rs 290, good for 40 standard 5 kg wash loads. You can also use the powder for hand and bucket washes. Go here to have a look at their products.

Krya powder is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, and is completely biodegradable. “If you follow the instructions on the pack, our powder costs Rs 7 a wash versus Rs 12-13 for a regular chemical detergent,” says Srinivas Krishnaswamy, an Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore) alumnus and co-founder at Krya.

Here’s a description of a Conscious Consumer’s experience with Krya’s laundry products.

Watch video on how to use Krya detergent powder:

4) Daily Dump

Daily Dump, a brand of Bangalore-based PBK Waste Solutions Pvt Ltd, has a bio detergent, Bio-D bar, a biodegradable product made of palm oil. A 200-gm bar costs Rs 24. You can also pay Rs 35 for a pack of three 100-gm bars, and Rs 88 for a pack of four 200-gm bars. “Maids in homes that have used our product have referred it to other households they work in,” says Srinivas Aithal, a supplier to Daily Dump.

They also have a Vanastree Soapnut scrub: a 250gm pack that contains shikakai, soapnut and dried lemon peels, powdered in an easy-to-use form. Can be used to wash all kinds of utensils. You can buy their products here.

Daily dump's bio-d product made of palm oil.

Daily dump’s bio-d product made of palm oil.

5) Rustic Art

Rustic Art, based in Maharashtra is a PETA certified brand. It  has a “Bio Liquid Laundry” which is handmade, bio-degradable and sans foam. It contains glycerin that acts as a conditioner for clothes and has a shelf life of 18 months shelf life. It is also easy to use in a washing machine. They even have an entire chlorine-free laundry kit.


Kirti is an unwriter, whose Attention Deficit Syndrome has kept her from getting bored of journalism even after 10-plus years in the field. She prefers the sword but finds the pen mightier when the topics are food, travel and books. more


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Kirti is an unwriter, whose Attention Deficit Syndrome has kept her from getting bored of journalism even after 10-plus years in the field. She prefers the sword but finds the pen mightier when the topics are food, travel and books. more

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  • trishamdey

    I’m surprised you’ve not included Common Oxen products in this list. Any reason why? or not heard of it?