Lets talk about zero waste laundry. Everyone has to wash their clothes at some point, am I right? But how you do it matters: The average American runs anywhere from four to five loads a week. That’s a lot of water to waste on laundry. Wastewater is also a result of the washing process and a big environmental concern. Wastewater refers to the additional energy, lint, soil, dyes, finishing agents and chemicals from detergents that leak into our environment and contaminate waterways. This wastewater is toxic to wildlife and also causes unnatural overgrowth of plants and algae that leads to oxygen depletion in the water. This process is known as eutrophication, and when this happens, animals die. When we use conventional detergents loaded with harsh chemicals, we contribute to this cycle of environmental harm. Plus, the traditional laundry routine generates lots of waste (think about all those plastic detergent bottles, single use fabric softener sheets, etc.). Lets agree to make the switch to a more zero waste laundry routine, shall we? Not only will it help the environment, but it will also save you money in the long run as well.
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Zero Waste Laundry
These reusable alternatives will help your laundry dry faster, reduce static, and act as a fabric softener. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to them to make your clothes smell a certain way.
To use them, just add a few drops of essential oil to three wool dryer balls, then place the three balls in the dryer with each load. Simple as that!
I really like using lemon, lavender or orange essential oil with my wool dryer balls – it leaves the clothes smelling so nice. Also, my clothes always feel so. damn. soft. after using these. Ugh, it’s heaven.
I’ve heard wool dryer balls can help knock off unwanted pet hair from your clothes as well, making them ideal for people with cats or dogs. I don’t have any furry animal friends so I can’t verify that directly. Still though, worth a shot!
You can use one dryer ball in over 1,000 loads – it can last you 2 to 4 years. That’s certainly a worthy investment, if you ask me!
Another thing I love about wool dryer balls? They shorten dry time. This helps save on energy, but it also helps reduce the time you have to sit around and wait for your clothes to dry! Who wouldn’t want that?
Ethique’s laundry bar and stain stick is mighty impressive – it’s great for hand washing clothes and removing stains. As a zero waster, I love two-in-one products, so I truly appreciate this one.
This stain stick is vegan, all natural, cruelty free, plastic free and palm oil free. What’s not to love? When I ordered it, it came in a simple little cardboard box, making the packaging easy to compost.
To use it as a stain stick, I simply rub it into a stain and let it sit a few minutes or overnight (depending on the stain). Then, I hand wash it in the sink. So simple!
This bar is also perfect if you travel a lot – it’s easily portable and you can actually wash clothes with it in the sink, as well as remove stains. You should totally check it out.
I recommend storing it in a little tin or Ethique’s storage container that’s specifically designed to extend the life of their bars.
Ethique’s storage containers are also made from compostable, plastic-free ingredients which is super innovative – you can literally bury them in your garden at the end of their life because it’s made from bamboo and sugar cane. Amazing right?
Also, here’s a cool zero waste stain removal chart that teaches you which natural ingredients remove specific stains (ex: blood, cosmetics, chocolate, etc.). Great for reference purposes.
Another free option is to make your own laundry whitener/stain remover using egg shells and lemons. Just put your empty eggshells into a muslin cheesecloth or mesh laundry bag with a few slices of lemon.
Throw it in the wash with your load of whites. You can also put it in a bin, fill it with water and the item you wish to whiten, and let it soak for 1 hour.
Washing less saves a ton of water and it’ll actually help your clothes last longer in the long run.
For example, it is really necessary to run four to five loads a week? That’s apparently how much laundry the average American does. Perhaps we can cut it down to two or three and still smell clean and fresh.
I don’t have access to a washing machine and dryer in my apartment. In a way, it’s a good thing! It means I’d have to take a trip to go wash my clothes, which prevents me from over-washing them.
Generally speaking, my folks and I do laundry once a week and we’re in the clear. Of course, if something smells funky, I recommend washing it – don’t want you to be stinky! You can also hand wash your delicates to cut down on loads.
Save energy, and make your clothes less likely to fade or shrink, by washing with cold water! It can even help reduce wrinkles in your clothes.
I will say, however, if you plan on using cold water and soap nuts, you should soak the nuts in boiling water for 5 minute prior to placing them in the washing machine. I say this because soap nuts work best when used or activated in warm water.