The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Tips
If you’re worried about climate change and the impact we’re having on the environment, one great place to make a difference is right at home. With these simple eco-friendly laundry tips, you can take a big step toward a more sustainable life. Even better, you can protect your health, help the environment, and save some money.
Plus, the laundry room isn’t the only room in your house that you can make a little more eco-friendly. You can also take easy steps to make a zero waste bathroom, reduce waste in your kitchen without even trying, and even make your cleaning routine more eco-friendly.
When you’re ready to make a green laundry room, check out some of these awesome eco-friendly laundry tips.
1. Use Soap Nuts
One great place to start when making an eco-friendly laundry room is with your detergent. Store-bought laundry detergent can contain all types of potentially dangerous chemicals. Worst of all, there are no regulations that require these companies to disclose what type of ingredients they’re using.
For a safer and natural way to clean your clothes, you can use soap nuts. Soap nuts are actually a berry that contains a natural cleaning agent called saponin. If you prefer liquid detergent, you can even use them to make homemade liquid soap nut laundry detergent.
Not only do soap nuts make a fantastic alternative to store-bought laundry detergents, but the trees they grow on help prevent erosion and can help combat the greenhouse gas effect.
If you’re not quite ready to make the switch to soap nuts, consider making your own homemade laundry detergent. This laundry detergent is non-toxic, easy to make, and cheaper than most store-bought detergents.
2. Stop Using Fabric Softener
Getting rid of fabric softener is another incredibly important swap to make for a more eco-friendly laundry room. Liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets seem harmless with their fresh scents and cuddly mascots, but they’re actually one of the most toxic items in your laundry room.
Some fabric softeners are made with quaternary ammonium compounds, also known as quats. These chemicals are known to trigger asthma and could cause harm to our reproductive systems. Fabric softeners can also contain phthalates that can damage the kidneys, liver, lungs, and reproductive system.
In fact, dryer sheets are so toxic, pregnant women are encouraged to not even touch them because they can lower a child’s IQ by up to 7.6 points.
Fortunately, getting rid of fabric softeners doesn’t mean you have to walk around with stiff and scratchy clothing.
If you make the switch to soap nuts, you won’t need to use a fabric softener because the soap nuts don’t leave behind a chemical residue that makes clothes stiff.
You can also use wool dryer balls. Not only can dryer balls help soften clothing, but they can also shorten your drying time. Plus, if you like having a slight fragrance on your clothes, you can add one or two drops of essential oil on your dryer balls before each load.
This post has even more great ways you can naturally soften your clothes without using dryer sheets. Or, if you don’t want to stop using fabric softener, you can make the switch to one of these eco-friendly fabric softeners that use natural ingredients to soften your clothes.
3. Use a Homemade Stain Remover
Rather than turning to harmful chemicals to help get stains out of your clothes, you can use a few simple and natural ingredients to make your own stain remover.
This highly effective homemade stain remover is what I use in our house. So far, it has removed every type of dirt, food, and blood stain my son and husband have managed to get on their clothing.
If you don’t have time to DIY, you can also check out these awesome eco-friendly laundry stain removers.
4. Avoid Bleach
Although bleach is a popular option for getting clothes whiter, it’s a highly toxic chemical that can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat. It can also create dangerous gases if mixed with vinegar or rubbing alcohol, it’s not recommended for homes on septic system, and bleach byproducts are toxic to birds and other aquatic animals.
Related: 6 Rubbing Alcohol Mistakes to Avoid
This homemade bleach alternative uses just a few simple and natural ingredients to whiten clothing without the dangerous side effects of bleach.
5. Wash With Cold Water
Washing machines are a massive energy hog when you use the hot water setting. In fact, according to the EPA, only 10% of the electricity your washing machine uses actually goes to operating the motor. The other 90% goes to heating the water.
If every household in the United States switched to using only cold water to wash their clothes, we could eliminate 34 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Best of all, almost all types of clothes can be washed in cold water, so you can immediately make the switch to this eco-friendly laundry habit and start enjoying the benefits right away.
Washing with cold water is also a good way to help cut down on microfiber pollution from clothes made with synthetic fabrics. You can also consider washing with a Guppyfriend or Cora Ball to help catch microfibers in the wash.
6. Line Dry
If you really want to make a huge difference in your eco-friendly laundry routine, skip the dryer and hang up your clothes to dry. There are around 88 million dryers in the U.S., and combined they emit more than a ton of carbon dioxide every year.
Since dryers use so much energy, switching to line drying can have a huge positive impact on the environment and your wallet. Even better, line drying clothes cuts down on the wear and tear they get in the dryer. This means your favorite pieces will last longer and you don’t have to spend as much money replacing items.
Since you might not want your unmentionables outside flapping in the breeze, don’t forget to invest in a good drying rack you can keep inside for items you don’t want to hang outside.
7. Speed Up Drying Time
Of course, there are times when you might need to use your dryer. Weather and time can sometimes work against your plans to dry clothes outside. In these cases, be sure you’re using your dryer as efficiently as possible.
Always make sure you clean the lint trap before each load. Not only is it an important safety precaution, but it also helps your dryer use less energy.
If you can, send your clothes through an extra spin cycle in the washing machine to squeeze out as much excess water as possible. Also, if your dryer has a moisture sensor, make sure you don’t forget to use it.
Finally, try to time your loads so you can dry multiple loads one right after the other. This is because your dryer is already warm, which helps it use less energy.
8. Only Wash Clothes When Dirty
This seems like such a simple tip, yet many people get in the habit of tossing clothes in the hamper regardless of whether they’re dirty or not. When you take off your clothes at the end of the day, actually take a look at them to see if they’re dirty.
While you obviously want to wash socks and undergarments after one use, most shirts and pants can be worn multiple times before they need washed.
Not only will cutting back on washing your clothes actually help them last longer, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to make your laundry routine more green.
9. Wait for a Full Load
Just like you should only run your dishwasher when it’s full of dishes, you should also try to wait until you have a full basket of dirty clothes before you do the laundry. After all, even the most energy-efficient washing machine uses around 18 gallons of water during each load.
If you absolutely must do a small load of laundry, use the load size selector option so you don’t use more water than you need to.
10. Skip the Iron
Here’s one eco-friendly laundry tip that a lot of people will love. To make your laundry routine a little greener, skip the iron. Not only does ironing use electricity, but the heat also damages your clothes, which means they won’t last as long.
If you’re worried you’ll walk around looking like a rumpled mess if you don’t iron, simply hang up your clothes as soon as they’re done washing. The weight of the water that’s still in the clothing and gravity will work together to pull out the wrinkles.
11. Upgrade to Energy-Efficient Machines
Now, this isn’t an excuse to ditch your machines that are currently working just fine for the latest and greatest model. After all, you don’t want to needlessly contribute to landfill waste.
But when the inevitable time comes that your machines breakdown and you need to get new ones, look for ones that are highly energy-efficient.
When you’re shopping for a new washing machine, consider getting a front-loader instead of a top-loader. A front-loading washing machine with an Energy Star rating can save up to 7,000 gallons of water a year. It can also save you around $550 in operating costs over its lifetime.
Washing machines aren’t the only appliances that are getting more efficient. An Energy Star dryer uses about 20% less energy, which can give you around $245 in lifetime savings.
12. Stop Going to the Dry Cleaners
Conventional dry cleaners use a chemical called perchloroethylene (PERC). Studies have shown that exposure to PERC can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation; reduce fertility; and increase the risks of esophageal, bladder, and cervical cancer.
PERC is also a major source of hazardous waste, toxic air pollution, and soil and groundwater contamination near businesses that use it.
To eliminate your need for dry cleaning, start by purchasing clothing items that don’t require it. Also, keep in mind that some items that call for dry cleaning, such as cashmere and lambswool, can be safely washed by hand.
If you do have clothing items that must be dry cleaned, look for cleaners that use liquid carbon dioxide instead of PERC.
Making an Eco-Friendly Laundry Routine
Washing and drying your clothes doesn’t have to be a wasteful chore that uses toxic chemicals that can harm your health and the environment. With these simple eco-friendly laundry tips, you can enjoy clean and fresh clothes while still living a natural and sustainable life.
More Green Living Tips
Now that you’ve started using some of these eco-friendly laundry tips for a more natural life, are you interested in even more green living tips? Then be sure to check out some of our other popular posts:
- Incredibly Effective Homemade Weed Killer
- Best Apps for Sustainable Living
- Top Pet-Friendly Houseplants
- Best Zero Waste Products for Beginners