Did you know there are 7 different toxic chemicals in one of the leading laundry detergents on the market?
Normally I wouldn't even give something as boring as laundry detergent a second thought. Whatever detergent is cheapest is what I'm going to buy. But after reading a post from a holistic-minded friend of mine about the chemicals in many of today's name-brand detergents got me thinking about alternatives.
In her post she mentioned the Water Liberty magnetic laundry system. And while I love my friend to death...seriously? Washing machine magnets?
I honestly thought it was some sort of joke or a scam.
So I started researching alternative detergents.
Water Liberty Laundry System
Unfortunately most of the other solutions I came across required me to mix my own homemade solution of things like borax (not the Dr Seuss character. That's a Lorax), washing soda, and some sort of soap. All well and good but I am terrible about remembering to buy laundry detergent on it's own, the last thing I need is a LIST of things to buy that I then have to mix at home.
So I decided to dig into the Water Liberty system a bit more...
Before purchasing the system I did a little bit of math. I typically do 5-6 loads of laundry per week. This adds up to spending roughly $70 per year on detergent.
This is slightly less than the retail price of the magnet system, but I would be removing the chemicals from our clothes, doing the environment a bit of a favor, and after year 1, I would be SAVING MONEY.
I decided to give it a shot. I ordered mine through the Water Liberty website as they had the best price.
There's not really much to the "system". It basically boils down to two powerful magnets that are wrapped in protective plastic. They look like a couple of blue hockey pucks. The instructions couldn't be any simpler.
OK. This is where it gets complicated.
You basically place the two magnets on the side walls of your washing machine. They'll hold themselves in place all while doing what they're supposed to do. If you're machine has a plastic tub you can place them either into the pockets of some pants, or in a couple socks (one magnet per pocket or sock please).
This is a good idea for front load machines as well as it keeps the magnets from banging up against the door.
Though our home washing machine has a metal tub, I did take these on the road with us and ended up trying this out at one of the AirBnB's we stayed in on a trip. The washing machine had a plastic tub.
They worked like a champ when thrown into a pair of socks.
The two magnets always ended up stuck together by the end of the wash, but performance was unchanged. Everything came out clean.
The short answer is yes. But there are a couple caveats YOU should be aware of before purchasing them for yourself.
The first is the neutral smell. Most of us are used to having everything we own smell April fresh. Unfortunately that's not how clothes smell on their own. That is a chemical additive from your detergent at work. And while it smells comfortable and familiar, once you remove it from your life for a while, it doesn't actually smell that great.
It's kind of like when you cut back on sugar for a while then eat something sweet and it kind of knocks your socks off. (I'm not above a little laundry humor).
I know you're supposed to use cold water for colors that might bleed. And you can still do that. But for heavily soiled clothes you're going to want to use hot water. This isn't necessarily a limitation of the magnet system, it's just that oil, dirt, grime, and grease come out better with hot water.
Another option is to pre-soak your clothes or to use a stain removal pre-treatment. I've tried all three. For really tough stains I typically fall back to a spot treatment before washing. But I've gotten butter, oil, grease, and dirt out using just the magnets. Pretty impressive.
One of the pluses of traditional detergent is it's ability to help cover up less appealing odors, such as those that come from sweaty gym clothes. For this I had the perfect test. My husband has workout clothes that he's been using for going on 10 years.
They ALWAYS smell. For about 10 years now.
I'm not going to blow smoke up your you-know-what and tell you this magnet system cured that problem overnight. But I'll tell you what DID happen. After a couple months of washing without detergent, the smell of his nasty gym clothes actually got better.
Turns out undissolved soap from detergent sticks to your clothes and can actually cause smells to stick around. Yuck.
The next test is what actually won me over completely. We live with a beautiful but aging black cat. She is sweet, but also temperamental. Every once in a while my husband will do something to really tick her off.
She will then proceed to pee on his laptop bag. She's done this several times and it has officially become known as "Cat Pee Backpack". I've tried all sorts of detergents but NOTHING completely gets rid of the smell.
Well I threw the Cat Pee Backpack into the wash with the magnet system and it managed to completely get rid of the smell. Even my husband was impressed with this.
I'm a big fan of essential oils. I've found that by adding a drop or so into the wash with our clothes I can still get the great smell without all the harsh chemicals. If I'm just washing my clothes or sheets a little bit of lavender is LOVELY.
If I'm washing my husbands clothes I'll usually just us a hint of lemon.
There are tons of different options out there, and many of them smell wonderful. So much better than any laundry detergent I've ever tried.
The basic idea behind how laundry detergent and the magnet laundry system works is the same. They both reduce the surface tension of the water in the washing machine allowing it to more effectively agitate against the fibers of the clothes. This agitation breaks up the dirt, grime, or whatever and leaves your clothes cleaner.
The difference is that detergents do it with harsh chemicals that are not good for your body or the environment. The MLS system does it by working with the natural magnetic properties of water molecules.
I'm going to be totally honest. I was EXTREMELY skeptical of using magnets to clean our laundry. But after 6 months of use I am totally convinced. But don't just take my word for it. There are TONS of other reviews out there.
Most of the complaints I've seen revolve around clothes not smelling fresh. This goes back to the chemicals added to detergents to add smell. Clothes shouldn't smell like anything!
Others have mentioned that these magnets do nothing to neutralize bacteria or germs. Again, this is not something that detergents do either. Hot water, or bleach when necessary will take care of most of the germs. You can also use a more natural solution that I cover below in the FAQ.
I've gotten lots of questions about this product from friends and family. Here are the most common questions I could remember. Feel free to comment at the end if I've missed anything!
This is a great question. My husband and I travel a good bit and I took these with us. A couple of the machines in apartments we stayed in were plastic tub machines. I just dropped the two magnets into a couple of socks and placed them on opposite sides.
Worked like a charm.
MLS does NOT sanitize your clothes. That said, neither does regular laundry detergent. The system DOES remove a great deal of bacteria. Hot water actually does a great job of this.
If you're looking for more germ killing power I've found a couple of methods for sanitizing our clothes that work well with the magnets.
I struggled a bit with this one. My husband's gym clothes stink. The magnet system works great for getting out all the dirt, and MOST of the time it gets the smells out too. I found a nifty little trick though...
A tiny bit of essential oil added to the wash helps immensely. Just nothing too girly or he gets strange looks at the gym. 🙂
These are pretty heavy duty magnets that are designed to last forever. I've only been using them for about 6 months, but I've noticed no difference in how they work.
I've tried them in both top and front load washers. If you're using a front load unit make sure to put them in some pants pockets or a pair of socks (one magnet in each). This will keep you from going crazy when they bump against the door during the wash.
I've seen mixed results with stains. Dirt seems to come out every time. Particularly oily or greasy stains seem to do best with a bit of a pre-soak or even some spot treatment.
In terms of day-to-day washes the magnets do as well or better than any detergent I've used before.
They do a great job of removing dirt, but nothing works like bleach for making things white again. That said, I'll only add bleach when necessary. This translates to about 80% of our washes being completely chemical free. 🙂
I've used them with both. But just like when you're washing dishes, hot water tends to break things down more effectively. This is especially true of oil and grease.
If you can use hot, I would. It will save you some time.
I'm not one for separating items when I wash (shameful, I know). I've noticed no difference in the wear of delicate items. Same goes for wool. I even use them with my more delicate homemade items.
Absolutely. Yes they are magnets so you don't want to go rubbing them directly against the sensitive computerized parts of your washer. But throwing them in the wash won't impact your machine in the least.
My in-laws house has a water softening system and the MLS system worked perfectly. Even convinced my mother-in-law and her cleaning lady to buy a set for themselves.
Though I was at first VERY skeptical about the magnet laundry system, I'd have to say I'm now a believer. While I still have to use stain removers, and occasionally bleach, I never use laundry detergent anymore. It has saved us money, and our clothes smell as good as ever.
If this appeals to you, give it a try. If you're not totally happy with it performs you've got 60 days to return them. This is plenty of time to judge the performance of the system for yourself.
Natalie V Mason is an ETSY entrepreneur that started her online sewing business in 2012. She specializes in fabric design, sewing, and dying. You can see her work on her ETSY page and on her website at natalievmason.com. You can also reach her via email. You can also read more about her here.