Environmental awareness continues to grow in Bali, and Cinta Alam Organic Laundry is aiming to turn your starched whites an all-natural shade of green.
This is exciting; I am sitting in a laundry in Sanur, talking with Wayan, originally from Payangan in Ubud, and her Finnish husband Tomas, about soap nuts. Soap nuts come from the Arborio sapindus tree and were grown productively throughout Indonesia until the chemical revolution of the 1960s and the great land sell-off of the 1970s. I have heard friends from America talk about these nuts and how, in the States, they import them at great cost from Indonesia and how great they are as a natural soap substitute. In Indonesia though, the things seem to be as rare as truffles. Well, until now that is.
After extensive research into the type of business they could pursue that would allow them to make a living, while also remaining true to their strong belief in the importance of preserving local communities and the environment, Wayan and Tomas decided to open the Cinta Alam Organic Laundry. Cinta Alam (which means Love of Nature in Indonesian) offers a full laundry service with some major differences: Their all-natural soap powder is as far from the typical laundry service’s chemical compounds as you can get. Their stain remover is made from a special kind of salt, and fragrance comes from a few drops of a pure essential oil of your choice. Your finished laundry is packaged in brown paper rather than single-use plastic wrapping that goes straight in the rubbish bin.
The staff at Cinta Alam wash everything—from sheets, towels, and blankets to delicate items that require a hand wash. They care for, dry, and press your fragile items just as you wish and, if you live in the Sanur area, they will even deliver your laundry to you for free. With prices in the same range as that of any commercial laundry, Cinta Alam possesses a decent competitive edge. The owners hope to be able to open more Cinta Alam laundries in other areas of Bali.
So who chooses an all-natural laundry service? People who seek solutions to the impact that daily life, including laundry, has on the island’s precious resources, as well as on the human body itself. The common chemical powders that heat on contact with water and skin, and that contain bleaching ingredients and color brighteners, often create skin irritations, despite thorough rinsing. Moreover, that familiar bleachy smell can linger unpleasantly on beds and towels, despite the addition of fragrance rinses and scented ironing sprays.
Cinta Alam Laundry now offers an all-natural solution to these problems, and it’s a win-win situation for all—staff, customers, and nature. But will this natural approach really get my laundry as clean as I’m used to? Will those sheets really turn snowy white, and will colors remain bright? After testing out the laundry service personally, I’m pleased to report that no compromise has been made between cleanliness and environmental friendliness.
Recently, during the course of my day and prior to my visit to Cinta Alam, I had spilled a splash of salad dressing on both my shirt and skirt. The dressing, oil-based and well-mixed with a lovely, dark balsamic vinegar, had made a real mess of my white shirt and caramel skirt. After changing into a spare set of clothing, I handed over my test pieces to the staff at Cinta Alam. I felt like an actor in a bad detergent commercial, as I proffered my two items and asked if the soap nuts and salt would really shift the stains without harming my precious items of clothing.
Of course, unlike a soap powder advert, the clock did not spin forward to the next day. But I was quickly delivered a paper-wrapped package that contained sweet smelling (I had chosen cempaka as my signature scent), freshly presented, and beautifully pressed clothing, devoid of a single stain.
Originally published in Hello Bali Magazine, June 2011 issue.