I've been meaning to write about Ecoballs for a while.
They're supposed to be a very environmentally friendly way to wash clothes, that work by ionising the water. A couple of people I know have been using them for two or three years and initially I was quite skeptical, as I have no idea about the science behind them and it seems like either a) magic or b) bollocks.
However, eventually I did a bit of internet research and we decided that we'd give them a go.
Allegedly, you can wash on a low temperature and because you don't use detergent, you don't have to rinse; good on three counts.
We've been using them for about a month now and I think they're pretty good on a short wash at a low temperature for your ordinary, dirty-but-not-vile kind of washing.
I've washed towels and sheets with them on a short wash at sixty degrees and that seems to work fine as well.
However: stains don't come out very well using them - tomato sauce, cat footprints from the garden on my white t-shirt, and erm, what I shall euphemistically call sheet stains*. Stuff that I guess would be relatively difficult to get out anyway. A 'stain remover' comes with the pack of three balls that you are supposed to spot-clean with before you wash, if you need to. I haven't used it yet because I've been experimenting to see what happened when I didn't; but that's the next move and I'll report back.
I think the main issue (and it's not really an issue) that I'm having is that I associate the smell of detergent with 'cleanliness'. Which isn't really accurate - detergent just smells of detergent. So it's psychological rather than anything else. Some of the googling I did brought up various discussion threads about them and quite a few people reckon that they DO get stains out. Perhaps it depends on what kind of water area you're in and what kind of material you're washing? Plus variables like machine type and how full you fill it?
In all honesty, I think that we shall probably keep using Ecover Laundry Liquid occasionally for things like bedding and towels and really dirty clothes; but use the ecoballs unless there is specific reason not to.
So, there you go. Adding this to the Ethical Living Links.
* Did I mention that I actually burned the sheets, once PL and PLG had left? Only not at once. Oh no. Just last week. They washed them and dried them the morning they were leaving and put them back in the drawer. Then when I got them out to make the bed up for Semi Invisible Lodger, I discovered that they actually weren't very clean at all. Did you know that burning sheets smell like ironing? Or perhaps, my ironing just smells like burning sheets. Anyway, I digress.