A South Side couple is working to help clean their community one laundry load at a time with help from their plant-based detergent.
Sylvia and Augie Emuwa created Dinobi detergent in 2019.
“We do have a plant-based formula and something that isn’t harmful to the water waste,” Sylvia Emuwa said. “We use essential oils and only plant-based derived ingredients.”
Dinobi means precious.
“When we thought about our product, we said people need something precious for their skin,” Augie Emuwa said.”
Fast forward to June 2023, and the Emuwas decided they needed a laundromat to showcase their product. Through a partnership with the University of Chicago, the Dirty Laundry pop-up in Hyde Park was born.
“This is a social and community asset,” Augie Emuwa said. “This neighborhood is 65% renters based in this area — lots of buildings with 40+ units with one laundry unit with two to three machines. This is about an equity push for the folks in the area.”
For a 25-cent shot glass portion at the laundromat or a $14.99 32 fluid oz. bottle, washers have options for experimenting with Dinobi.
Sylvia Emuwa said customers report clothes smelling clean and feeling softer, in addition to reduced skin irritation.
“Once they try it, they love it,” she said. “They come back for more.”
The Emuwas are also working to ensure their communal space extends beyond a load or two by offering a resident DJ, extended Thursday hours for BYOB, weekly discounts for seniors and craft activities for kids.
“It’s a good atmosphere here,” Hyde Park resident Hazel Redmond said. “The people are like a family, and I think that’s how it should feel. No tension or stress. Coming in to relax, but it’s a laundromat.”
With the pop-up laundromat running until October, the Emuwas said they’re optimistic about its longevity, no matter the location.
Dinobi detergent is available at Mariano’s in the “local products” section, as well as select stores in Hyde Park, including the Silver Room, Bonne Sante Health Foods and of course, Dirty Laundry.