The Art of Eco Laundry
Time to clean up our laundry routines. Refresh your wardrobe and reduce plastic and toxins with these simple steps.
With regular chores like laundry, bad habits die hard. Billions of laundry detergent pods and sheets made from a sneaky plastic PVA are polluting our waterways. Microplastics from washing fleece jackets and many other fabrics made with synthetics like polyester are also polluting our waste waters. Too small to be filtered, microplastics are discharged by waste water treatment plants into the environment.
Plus, everything from water temperature to frequency of washing breaks down garments faster than we realize. Since cotton is one of the most toxic crops grown on Earth, the more carefully we use it and extend its lifetime, the less harm we cause to Mother Nature. Washing your laundry mindfully to reduce wear and tear is an eco-friendly habit that is healthy for the planet and your wallet.
Here’s a quick refresher and some plastic-free, eco-friendly tips for you to easily ECO your laundry day.
Laundry Basics, Refreshed
Many of us learned how from our mothers, some of us picked up tips from a roommate, others just wing it. Who knows, you may have been doing it wrong this whole time!
Cold is the preferred temperature for laundry, in both the washer and dryer. A combination of hot water and blasts of dry heat break down fibers at a faster rate. The more a garment is agitated in water and air, the shorter its lifespan.
While we may think cleanliness is next to godliness, when it comes to fashion, let’s rethink that sentiment. Few items need to be washed after every use.
Other good laundry habits include:
- Purchase powdered detergent in a recyclable cardboard box to avoid disposal of plastic bottles and pollution created by pods made of PVA film.
- Sort by texture and color
- Pre-treating stains with a plastic-free, wooden scrub brush made from beechwood and natural fibers.
- Never overload the machine (reduces washer's efficiency & results in less clean clothing!)
- Use the correct amount of water to allow your clothes to move freely in the machine and reduce wear and tear - but not too much as to be wasteful
- Dry thoughtfully!
Use Your Hands For Eco-Friendly Loads
Two things that immediately benefit Mother Nature include handwashing and air drying. We know, who has the time?! But the long term benefits are well worth it.
The same basics apply to handwashing. Sort, pre-treat, and dilute a small amount of soap in warm water before adding cold. Let time do the work with soaking, especially for thicker fabrics like wool.
Specific items do better with line drying while things like sweaters prefer to dry flat. Gently wrap delicates in a towel before line drying and use your hands to wring out and smooth out lapels and collars.
Or choose colorful wool dryer balls in playful colors like these from LooHoo pictured in blue, purple and gray to lift your spirit as well as your clothes, creating separation between the textiles so they dry faster and with fewer wrinkles. The friction of wool dryer balls against the clothes as they tumble in the dryer naturally softens fabrics and absorbs any odors without chemicals.
And there's more eco upside! When you skip the washer and dry thoughtfully, you save on your electric bill!
Plastic and Toxin Free Products
These days, eco-friendly detergents line the supermarket shelves. Go the extra mile and ditch liquid for powder without toxins like phosphates, fragrance, brighteners, bleach and skip the plastic bottles. Cardboard box containers are biodegradable and easily recyclable. Pour the powders along with your stain stick and wooden brush into a compact and stackable stainless steel bento so it's easy to pull in and out for daily use.
While everything loves their whites whiter, it’s time to ditch the bleach. Whiten and brighten your laundry with a non-toxic biodegradable powder that's free of bleach, ammonia and safe for septic tanks, such as Oxygen Boost from Branch Basics.
No matter how much you rinse, there is always residue left on your clothes, which seep into skin and bleach is extremely toxic. Our planet and your skin will thank you for choosing your products wisely. Other ingredients to avoid when selecting healthier detergent include any type of fragrance, brighteners, and phthalates.
Every part of our lives can benefit from an eco upgrade. Now that you see how easy it is in the laundry room, what other areas of your life need a green boost? Check out our zero-waste blogs for bathroom and kitchen tips, too!