Ten Tips to Make your Laundry Routine More Green
Hate doing laundry? Don’t we all. Read our top ten eco laundry tips on how you can eliminate toxic chemicals from your laundry cycle, and home. Some light reading on the toxicity of mainstream laundry brands, that you may have grown up using, could help you alter your routine all together.
1. Wash in cold water.
Apart from heavily soiled items, bed sheets and towels, dish cloths, undergarments, and dirty white socks, you can wash everything cold. Items that are delicate or made of synthetic fabrics should always be washed cold, usually in a cold, gentle cycle. Reducing the amount of energy used to heat water will minimize your environmental impact.
2. Look for the HE certification on the detergent label.
Purchasing concentrated laundry detergent and eco-certified brands can help reduce your plastic use and ensure that these products won’t harm waste water quality. If you’re curious, most mainstream brands don’t meet these criteria. Click here to find specific brands that pass the test!
3. Stay away from chemical surfactants in detergents.
Harsh mainstream soaps use chemical surfactants, which accumulate in wastewater. Better brands use coconut or vegetable surfactants instead.
4. Do a full load.
If you have a newer washing machine, it’s less important to have a full load of wash because of smart technology that adjusts the amount of water to the amount of laundry being done. But each load of laundry still expends a base amount of energy, in addition to the time and energy you expend. So, doing full loads is more energy efficient and better for the environment.
5. Ensure that you use chlorine-free bleach.
Chlorine-free bleaches are usually comprised of water and hydrogen peroxide, but there are other ways of bleaching clothes. You can spot treat with straight hydrogen peroxide and hang things in the sun. White vinegar has been known to work for stains on white fabric, Google yields many suggestions for stain cleaning alternatives that don’t involve enormously toxic chemicals. People also soak whites overnight in lemon juice if they look drab, a non-toxic and cheap alternative to bleach.
6. Avoid fabric softener at all costs.
It’s detrimental to the water supply, can cause fires and clogs the dryer vent. The residue it leaves on clothes wears away at them. Use vinegar in lieu of fabric softener for an eco-alternative. (Just add white distilled vinegar to the fabric softener compartment, and let your machine release it at the appropriate time.)
7. Stay away from dryer sheets!
Dryer sheets are not necessary to have good looking and smelling clothes. A study in Air Quality Atmosphere Health found that seven hazardous air pollutants (HAP's) are emitted from dryer vents during the use of fragranced laundry detergents and dryer sheets, two were carcinogenic HAP’s (Acetaldehyde and benzene) that have no safe exposure level.
8. Buy unscented detergent.
Chemicals stay in your clothes and are pressed against your skin. You expose yourself for 24 hours a day to perfumes, exposing your body to another form of unnecessary chemical bombardment. The best way to get great smelling laundry: dry it outside.
9. Use a drying rack or hang items to dry.
Each time you dry your clothes in the dryer, you are shortening their lifespan. To shop sustainably, treat your clothes sustainably, so that you can utilize them as long as possible. With a foldable laundry stand, you don’t need to iron your clothing because, if hung correctly, they dewrinkle. How to hang clothes with the fewest wrinkles? Shake them out, tug and smooth plackets and cuffs, smooth flat areas with your open hand. An added bonus to drying on a rack in your house during heating season is the humidity your clothes add to the air as they dry. If you have adequate space, a clothesline is the best way to dry your clothes. For quality clothespins, check out The Lady and the Carpenter, quality-made American clothes pins that my mother wholeheartedly approves of.
10. Ditch the dry cleaners.
Dry cleaning is usually unnecessary, but the lesser of two evils is going to a Green Cleaners. The difference is that green cleaning is done with “wet cleaning,” but the truth is that most things that you would send to a dry-cleaners can be washed on the “hand wash” cycle of a machine, and then carefully hung to dry. Old-fashioned hand washing in a basin with mild soap is still a more eco-friendly method than dry cleaners, and much cheaper. With the exception of leather and suede, our advanced washing machines have made the need for dry cleaning obsolete.
Click here for a detergent guide to help you choose a different brand. Some of our favorites are Seventh Generation, Biokleen, and Dr. Bronner’s. Stay sustainable, and let us know which of these tips you have incorporated to level up your laundry routine!