We all want our whites to look whiter but to what extent are we willing to go to eliminate dingy yellowing? Many of us will use an optical brightener. Have you ever paused to consider just what is an optical brightener and how does it work?
Optical brighteners transform UV light waves to enhance blue light and minimize the amount of yellow light to make things appear whiter – an optical illusion. They really don’t get your clothes any cleaner, but just make them appear whiter and brighter. Optical brighteners are synthesized from various chemicals, approximately 400 different types, so it is very difficult to confirm what an optical brightener actually contains.What they do, though, is stay on your clothes as they can resist heat and even chemicals like bleach. You can detect optical brighteners using a special UV or black light and will notice that your clothes literally glow!
To accomplish this illusion, the chemical must remain on the fabric after washing. This means that you have a chemical coming into contact with your skin 24/7 and raises the possibility of skin sensitivities and rashes. Many times, a dye or fragrance is thought to be the source of an allergic reaction to soap, but there is a good chance that the optical brightener is to blame.
Optical brighteners are not biodegradable, so when they enter our water system they pose a potential hazard to aquatic life. This pollution remains in waste water for long periods of time, negatively affecting water quality and animal and plant life. Optical brighteners have also been shown to cause mutations in bacteria.
So, how do you get your clothes white without harming your family or the environment? Here are some eco-friendly option to keep your family and fish safe. Soak your clothing in lemon juice and water prior to laundering and then hang them out to line dry in the sun works like a charm. Also, using a hydrogen peroxide and water solution works, too. Another solution is to purchase a non-chlorine oxygen based bleaches on the market, such as Vaska’s Amazing Oxygen Tablets. Chlorine-free, odor-free and 100% natural, our amazing oxygen brightener leaves nothing behind but radiantly clean laundry.
Unfortunately, optical brighteners are just one of the many potentially harmful ingredients in a number of laundry detergent brands. Among other considerations when choosing a detergent for your family is to find one that is free of: dyes, phosphates and enzymes.