Greener laundry is super easy. This is one of the first places I started in my eco-friendly journey. It’s simple to switch to colder washing, more high-efficient machines (when the time comes) and better for you and the planet laundry detergents. My eco-friendly laundry journey is ever evolving as new products keep coming out, making what was the greenest option seem like shares in an oil sand. Read on for my easy-to-implement tips on greening up your laundry.
I bought some plastic dryer balls (I know, I know! Sometimes, you try to get a little greener, but don’t quite make it all the way) and LOVE them. The next I’ll be using are wool dryer balls.
I don’t know why anyone makes their own dryer sheets when you can buy either of these. No essential oils needed. No soaking, nothing. Just pop ’em in and go.
I do keep a few Bounce sheets on hand (see: the Costco box I still had when I turned to the new and greener alternatives – guys, still use up what you have at home first!) when the winter months get really dry as I find that the dryer balls don’t get rid of the static. I’ve heard that the wool dryer balls actually do rid the clothes of static, so I’m excited to try those when my plastic ones have given up.
I’ve always air dried most of my clothes since I was a teenager. No way was I going to let a dryer stretch out or shrink my cutest new top or jeans. Fast forward a bit to University, and while I could easily budget the $50 in whiskey every weekend, spending $2.50 to dry my clothes seemed ludicrous. Line-drying now consisted of drying EVERYTHING and not just my hand-washables.
When I moved into my first house it came with a clothesline. I was so excited to dry things outside instead of on drying racks inside my apartment. I never went back to solely using the dryer, and this spring we will have two clotheslines!
Clotheslines are simple to use and if you already have one, put it to use! Let the sun and wind gently dry your clothes and give them that amazing fresh scent.
You can use drying racks if you’ve only a balcony, basement or living room.
Now, we only use the dryer in the winter months, and we still use drying racks in the basement for a lot of our clothes!
While the best eco-option, and most iconic, are wooden ones, plastic is okay, too. I have tons of great plastic clothespins (some heavy duty ones that work amazingly well for large comforters, blankets and jeans because the wooden ones just don’t cut it) that will last for YEARS. Legit, I have a bunch of my Baba’s old clothespins that are plastic.
Natural Cleaning Detergents
Find a detergent that works well with your budget and your family. I used to use Ecover, stocking up on the jumbo bottle whenever I went to Costco, then moved onto Method. Method DOES contain SLS, though, but works really well on getting stains out.
Now, I just use soap nuts. The easiest solution.
These things are amazing! I heard so many people rave about them, so I finally jumped in and bought some. The best part? You can get them at Bulk Barn and you don’t need to ship anything, or use any containers. I used an old produce bag to pick these bag boys up and now they sit happily in their bag downstairs. Maybe I’ll jazz them up with an old sauce container one of these days.
I got a little leery about these after I bought them as I started researching more (because, duh, why wouldn’t you do that AFTER you purchase something new?) as I heard a lot of people saying they don’t clean that well. But! I’ve used them for about 15 loads now and haven’t had an issue. Only one shirt of my husband’s came out still sliiiightly smelly, but that work shirt apparently had been living in his hockey bag for a few days, so let’s give these soap nuts/berries a break. I used to solely use Method laundry detergent and I honestly don’t even think it would get my clothes super duper clean every time, and I loved that shit. SLS and all.
I often add vinegar or baking soda to my wash for some extra cleaning action (see below), so adding a couple of pumps to extra smelly clothes or any stains will work wonders.
What I do:
– grab 3 berries/nuts and put them in a muslin bag. Throw that bag in the middle of your wash.
– grab 3 more berries/nuts and put them in a muslin bag. Throw that bag at the top of your wash.
– add vinegar as needed.
– wash! (I use warm water as I never found any detergent that actually truly cleaned my clothes in cold water. We also have an energy efficient washer and hot water tank and Manitoba has renewable energy sources, so I don’t really worry about the consumption of energy with my wash)
You can use your berries/nuts up to 8 times, but I stopped them at 6 after reading some people saying the cleaning power isn’t as strong. I broke mine into two bags to get the most out of them, thinking that two bags will have an easier time cleaning and sudsing in a more efficient washing machine. My washing machine also looks hella clean, guys.
Pro tip: don’t leave them too long as I’ve heard that they can also stain your clothes! But, if you do leave your clothes a little too long, don’t panic and check out my tips here.
Once you’re finished using the berries/nuts, compost them.
For a full run-down on all the things you can use soap berries on, click here.
Vinegar or Baking Soda for Extra Ummph
Stop buying fancy stain fighting cleaning agents and just use vinegar or baking soda.
Whenever I wash my rags (which I put in with a regular load) or my period undies (whaaaat? You haven’t heard of period panties?! Check out sustainable period options here. Life changing, ladies), I add a few pumps of vinegar into the mix for some extra cleaning action.
For whites, I add in a bit of baking soda. Don’t add too much or your washer will keep trying to clean out the clumps that will form. Just a sprinkle will do. If you aren’t ready to clothesline EVERYTHING just yet, do your whites. The sun will get them whiter and more fresh!
I’m not 100% sure if it matters with newer washers nowadays because they fill on the weight of the washer, but I always do full loads. If you have an old washer and have to pick small, medium, or large, then definitely always pick large. Because, it fills it up to a certain spot, not by the weight.