Hey there, fellow busy moms and eco-enthusiasts! 🌱
👋 I get it – life’s a whirlwind of juggling family, work, and, let’s be real, a never-ending pile of laundry. But guess what? Your laundry routine can be your secret weapon for saving the planet, one load at a time.
It’s time to dive into some laundry facts that’ll have you nodding in agreement and ready to take action!
A machine we love to hate, for it reminds us of the ever-daunting task of laundry. However, what would we do without it? It’s just another one of those love-hate relationships we learn to endure.
Have you ever wondered how much water and energy that powerhouse of a machine consumes, though?
One Thirsty Machine
One washing machine has an average water consumption equivalent to the same amount of water one person drinks their entire life in just one year. Your machine uses 40 gallons of water for every load you feed.
That’s like turning your laundry into a waterpark! Let’s make every drop count by making every load as full as possible or adjusting the wash cycle settings to match the machine’s garments.
HE washing machines (high efficiency) can help you in this area. They conserve the water special sensors use and use less electricity to operate. If you are looking for a new washer soon, look for a model-rated HE.
The Water We Use
With all the water treatment facilities in the United States, can you believe that less than 1% of that water makes its way into our drinking glasses?
The rest? It’s busy doing the sprinkler dance on lawns, flushing toilets, and whooshing down drains—it’s time for us to rewrite this aquatic story and start directing water to where it matters most. Currently, the state of California is in a water crisis. There is much debate about why. Many blame droughts.
Regardless of the cause, we can all agree that water is a valuable and necessary resource we depend on. Are there ways in which we can use less in our laundry processes?
Aside from HE washing machines and ensuring every load is full, maybe we could wear the same garments a few times before throwing them into the hamper? And other household items, like linens and towels, could also be used more conservatively.
You are in good standing if you use a new, clean towel once a week and do not share it with others. Sheets? Change them twice a month instead of weekly.
The Power of a Cold Cycle
63% of washing loads in the U.S. are done in a warm or hot setting. Around 90% of the unit’s energy is wasted on warming water.
Time to put that heat to better use and embrace the cold cycle – your wallet and the planet will thank you! Imagine a laundry revolution where everyone only uses cold water to wash their clothes and household linens.
A mind-blowing 34 million tons of CO2 saved – all thanks to your laundry superpowers!
This modern-day convenience lets us finish the laborious task of laundry faster and even brings added benefits, such as getting out wrinkles. Honestly, I don’t iron. I am guilty of popping that wrinkled dress I forgot to hang back up instead of breaking out the ironing board. As I’ve transitioned into the life of an eco-mama, I try to be smarter about how I use this appliance.
Energy Muncher: Your Dryer
Meet the energy-hungry diva of your household – the dryer! This appliance takes second place as the biggest energy muncher in your home. But don’t worry; I’ve got a sustainability trick up my sleeves that’ll not only trim your energy bill but also give your clothes that delightful air-kissed scent as if they’ve been dancing with the breeze.
Here’s the scoop: Did you know that each dryer in the U.S. releases about a ton of CO2 per year? That’s like adding an extra burden to our planet’s shoulders whenever we toss our laundry there. But fret not; there’s an eco-friendly, wallet-friendly, and planet-friendly solution.
Action Alert: Instead of relying solely on your energy-guzzling dryer, why not embrace the age-old air-drying technique? Hang your clothes outside on a sunny day or use indoor racks during colder months. Not only will you save energy and money, but your clothes will also get that delightful, sun-kissed freshness that no dryer sheet can match.
Oh, by the way, for that wrinkled dress? Now, I try to hang it up. But, inevitably, I am a busy mama. So I keep a spray bottle of water in my closet and spritz it a couple of hours before I want to wear it after it’s hung up. I let gravity do the work the dryer used to do for me.
By stepping away from the dramatic dryer and embracing the simple pleasure of air-drying, you’re not just making your laundry routine more sustainable. Still, you’re also showing Mother Earth a little love. It’s a small change that adds to big impacts – the drama we can all get behind!
The Products We Use
The laundry room may not be everyone’s favorite room in the house, but that does not mean we shouldn’t pay attention to it or what we stock it with.
The two products found in my laundry room growing up, without fail, were laundry detergent for the washer and fabric sheets for the dryer—or dryer sheets, as many call them. I didn’t know any other option until I was alone as an adult and became overwhelmed by the options facing me in the store.
Not until my first pregnancy did I know there was also another way to do my laundry. I didn’t have to put toxic chemicals on my clothes. There were safer alternatives. And even more today for both laundry detergent and fabric sheets.
I am not sure about you, but I grew up with the standard, conventional detergents on the market still available on the shelves of our local grocery store. All the smell goods, brightening agents, and toxic ingredients are included.
I didn’t start paying attention to my laundry detergent until my first child came along. But what I learned in my initial research, I could not unlearn, and I’ve never turned back. If you want to learn more about the ingredients you should avoid in most laundry detergents, you can check out our No Thank You List on our Website. It has a comprehensive list of ingredients you should avoid, why, and where they are commonly found.
For the sake of brevity, let me just say that there are a few ingredients you should memorize that will help you pick safer alternatives.
Most traditional detergents contain synthetic fragrances. I’m not talking about perfume. I’m talking about the ingredients listed as fragrance.
This one word alone is protected by the government and is considered a propriety blend of ingredients that could carry up to 3,000 undisclosed components. Most often, these ingredients include harsh chemicals.
Instead, opt for fragrance-free or natural scents infused with nature or pure essential oils derived from nature.
SLS is also known as sodium lauryl sulfate, commonly called sulfates. They are a foaming agent.
Avoid Artificial Dyes
That’s any color in the ingredients list followed by a number. To learn more about the dangers of artificial colors, you can read up on it in our blog post here.
Avoid Chlorine Bleach
It’s bad for your lungs, skin, and the earth. Try baking soda, washing soda, or hydrogen peroxide to tackle tough stains or brighten your whites. They each have amazing benefits without harmful side effects. Also, using cold water wash will not set in stains like water. So avoid the hot water wash for clothes that have been soiled.
Seek Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents
Eco-friendly laundry detergents are made in many forms today. So whether you prefer laundry detergent pods, liquid detergents, or laundry powder, you’ve got choices. The tricky part is knowing where to look and what to avoid.
Knowing what to avoid in your ingredients is the majority of the battle, but finding a safe alternative that performs is not easy either. So, towards the end of this article, I’ve shared a few of my favorite brands if you are looking for something safe that also delivers clean clothes.
You can take your journey for eco-friendly laundry detergents further by paying attention to which brands have additional values that align with yours, such as zero-waste laundry detergent, plastic-free packaging, or cruelty-free. No matter your values, options exist as long as you know what you are looking for and where to look.
First and foremost, steer clear of traditional dryer sheets. These laundry sheets are filled with fragrances and other harmful chemicals unsafe for your body to absorb daily. These chemicals also permeate the air around you after being trapped in your clothes during the drying cycle, affecting those around you, too.
It’s for the same reasons above. If it says fragrance in the ingredients, what is in your product is not fully transparent. Something can be hidden, something not good or safe for you. Opt for fragrance-free when unsure.
Avoid traditional dryer sheets.
These are laden with more chemicals than just fragrance.
Seek Safe Alternatives for Drying Your Clothes
Many options can help your clothes dry. Nothing is an option. Air dry them and let the fresh air of nature do the job. People forget that true cleanliness has no smell. Not bad, no good, just non-existent. Fragrant scents do not equate to clean. On the contrary, the absence of scent equates to clean.
In addition to air drying, using wool dryer balls in your dryer is another alternative. They create space between your clothes as they dry, allowing air to flow more efficiently and reducing drying time.
If you have odiferous clothing, you need to treat them in the washing phase. Most commercial products sold for the dryer merely cover the smells. They don’t eradicate them. I suggest some white distilled vinegar in the washing machine.
If you still desire a smell-good scent on your freshly laundered clothes, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to your dryer balls before starting your drying cycle.
Your Eco-Friendly Laundry Products
Here are some of my favorite eco-friendly laundry detergent brands and some ideas for fabric care in your dryer for your eco-friendly laundry room.
Dropps Laundry Pods are a safe alternative for laundry detergent. Many people seem to like the laundry pods for convenience and zero waste. Plus, they are plastic-free.
If you prefer the powder variety, another brand of eco-friendly laundry detergent I have found to be clear of harsh chemicals and still get my clothes clean is Mama Suds. They have a laundry detergent powder option with great cleaning power and plastic-free laundry detergent packaging.
For liquid laundry detergents, most brands still use plastic bottles. If you are okay with not being plastic-free, I highly recommend Nood Clean. They have a powerhouse of a concentrate made with plant-based ingredients. As they are a small business in the Upstate of SC, you must be local to source it easily. No online shop exists at this time.
A newer line of detergent sheets with plant-based ingredients in the USA should soon hit the market. I’ve been searching for one.
Wool Dryer Balls – These can be found in many places. I would suggest finding a local vendor in your community that makes them. Support local and shop small. You can also check out Etsy, LooHoos, or Organic Chix.
You can check out our blog post on Essential Oils for something to make your fresh load smell good. Toward the end of the post, I provide a few great online resources to find pure, high-quality options.
Commonly Asked Questions
Before we wrap up this blog post, I wanted to address some commonly asked questions with brief answers when creating a more sustainable laundry room and routine.
What is sustainable laundry?
Sustainable laundry refers to practices that minimize the negative environmental and social impacts of washing clothes, such as conserving water, reducing energy use, and using eco-friendly laundry detergent or laundry soap.
How do you wash laundry sustainably?
Use cold water, full loads, and eco-friendly detergents to wash laundry sustainably. Air drying and avoiding excessive washing also help.
Are laundry strips eco-friendly?
Laundry strips can be eco-friendly, as they often require less packaging and reduce water waste compared to liquid or powder detergents.
What is the meaning of green laundry?
Green laundry means using methods and products that are environmentally friendly, aiming to minimize harm to the planet in the laundering process. Many of these products are made with plant-based ingredients.
How can I make my laundry environmentally friendly?
Make laundry environmentally friendly using cold water, line drying, natural detergents, and washing clothes only when necessary. Also, seek a zero-waste laundry detergent or plastic-free laundry detergent.
How do you do frugal laundry?
Opt for DIY laundry detergent or laundry soap, wash full loads, and skip fabric softeners or dryer sheets for frugal laundry. Click here for some great DIY laundry detergent and laundry soap recipes.
What is a sustainable alternative to detergent?
A sustainable alternative to detergent can be soap nuts, which are natural and biodegradable.
What type of laundry detergent is best for the environment?
The best laundry detergent for the environment is biodegradable, phosphate-free, and produced using sustainable practices without chemical irritants. Sustainably made laundry pods or plastic-free packaging are great options. Laundry detergent sheets are gaining popularity as well.
What laundry detergent is not harmful to the environment?
Laundry detergents labeled “biodegradable,” “phosphate-free,” or “environmentally friendly” are generally not harmful to the environment. Please be sure the labels are referring to the contents of the package, not just the packaging itself.
What are green laundry detergents?
Green laundry detergents are eco-friendly options that prioritize using sustainable ingredients and eco-conscious packaging. Be mindful of greenwashing, though.
What type of laundry detergent is most eco-friendly?
The most eco-friendly laundry detergent typically has minimal environmental impact in production, usage, and disposal. All ingredients used are safe for people and the planet.
Is laundry detergent sustainable?
While laundry detergent can be sustainable, look for products with eco-friendly certifications and minimal packaging. Zero-waste laundry detergent or laundry detergent packaged in recycled plastic is considered sustainable, too.
What certifications should I look for in sustainable and eco-friendly laundry detergents?
When looking for sustainable and eco-friendly laundry detergent, consider looking for one or more of the following certifications on the label.
Laundry detergent products with the EcoCert certification meet strict environmental standards. Look for the “Ecological Detergent” label on detergents.
Eco-friendly laundry detergents with the USDA Organic certification ensure that the ingredients used are organically grown, often with fewer synthetic chemicals and more sustainable farming practices.
Cradle to Cradle (C2C)
A laundry detergent with this certification assesses a product’s sustainability across multiple criteria, including materials, energy, and social responsibility.
For eco-friendly detergents with a focus on ethical sourcing and fair labor practices, look for Fair Trade certification symbols.
This certification indicates that a product is cruelty-free and has not been tested on animals.
If you or your family have sensitive skin, look for detergents labeled as hypoallergenic, which are less likely to cause skin irritation than traditional laundry detergent.
Look for detergents with biodegradable certifications, indicating that they break down in the environment, reducing ecosystem harm. Biodegradable packaging for a full zero-waste laundry detergent product is a bonus.
Phosphates in detergents can harm waterways, so choose detergents labeled as phosphate-free.
HE (High Efficiency)
If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, choose detergents specifically formulated for HE machines to reduce water and energy consumption. Liquid detergent, laundry pods, and laundry powder are all available in HE.
EPA Safer Choice
This U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program identifies products with safer chemical formulations for people and the environment.
Some brands offset their carbon emissions, making their products carbon-neutral. Look for certifications related to carbon neutrality or carbon offsetting.
Products with the Green Seal certification meet environmental and performance standards, ensuring they have a reduced impact on the planet.
Some eco-friendly brands focus on reducing waste or having zero waste in their packaging and manufacturing processes. Check for zero waste or minimal packaging claims. Plastic-free laundry detergent products are an excellent option here.
If you prefer cruelty-free products without animal-derived ingredients, look for detergents labeled as vegan. These can be made today without compromising cleaning power.
Remember that certifications may vary by region, and not all sustainable laundry detergents will have all these certifications. It’s a good idea to read product labels and research the certifications most important to you and align with your eco-friendly goals and personal values.
What laundry detergent is best for health and the environment?
Choose laundry detergents free of harmful chemicals, fragrances, chlorine bleach, and dyes for health and environmental benefits. Zero waste options are also better for the environment.
What do care instruction symbols mean?
Care instruction symbols indicate how to care for clothing items properly; they cover washing, drying, ironing, and other care aspects.
What are the symbols of care?
Symbols of care are standardized icons found on clothing labels to guide proper garment care.
What is the “40” on care instructions?
The “40” on care instructions indicates the maximum recommended water temperature in Celsius for washing the garment.
What are fabric care instructions?
Fabric care instructions guide cleaning, handling, and maintaining specific clothing items.
What are the six basic fabric care symbols?
The six basic fabric care symbols typically include washing, bleaching, drying, ironing, dry cleaning, and general care instructions.
How do you wash all fabrics?
To wash all fabrics, sort by color and fabric type, use appropriate detergent, and follow care label instructions.
What are ten ways to take care of your clothing?
Hand wash delicates.
Use gentle washing cycles when stated.
Avoid over-washing anything.
Use garment bags for smaller items.
Always fold sweaters. Never hang them.
Line dry when possible, especially dresses, which often shrink over time.
Do not put wool or linen in the dryer. They may shrink.
Use low heat in the drying cycle.
Avoid harsh chemicals.
Wear your clothes two or three times (if not more) before washing (unless soiled).
What makes fabric last longer?
Fabric lasts longer when handled gently, stored in a cool, dry place, and protected from sunlight and excessive heat and moisture.
How do you care for and maintain woven fabric?
To care for woven fabric, follow care label instructions, avoid excessive stretching, and mend any tears promptly to extend its lifespan.
What temperature should I set my washing machine to if I have asthma?
While using cold water conserves energy, asthma sufferers should always wash their clothes in hot water. This includes sheets, bedding, towels, etc. Using a non-toxic laundry detergent is also essential. These two steps alone should help kill any dust mites that may linger and avoid triggers from contact with the laundered items. Fragrance-free is also a must in selecting the best eco-friendly laundry products.
High-fives, fabulous eco-mama followers! 🌎🙌
Your laundry routine isn’t just about stains and cycles; it’s your gateway to becoming a planet-saving superstar. Armed with these fun facts and earth-loving insights, you’ve got the power to make laundry day a green, clean adventure. So, swap those warm cycles for cool ones, give air-drying a whirl, and let’s keep our world fresh, bright, and eco-friendly!
Action Time Summary
Cool Water Challenge
Join the cold water brigade! Switch to cold water laundry cycles and help conserve energy with every load.
Embrace air-drying for that breezy, natural freshness. Your clothes will thank you, and so will the planet!
Spread the Word
Share these laundry gems with your friends and family. Let’s create a laundry revolution together!
Ready to tackle laundry day with a splash of eco-fun? Let’s make our homes greener and our planet happier, one laundry load at a time.
You’ve got this!