Last blog post we talked about my zero waste bathroom essentials. Today, let’s dive into my zero waste laundry essentials as well as some zero waste swaps I wish I had but don’t yet. We don’t really need much more for an intro so let's go!
I will try to keep this brief but if you want, you can check out this extensive eco laundry review here where I compare 4 different brands (TruEarth, Soap Nuts, Seventh Generation, and BunchaFarmers). But, here is my favorite: soap nuts. I love soap nuts because they are a natural material, just one ingredient, and they can be composted. This plus they are extremely cheap. A bag costs maybe $10-20 and lasts YEARS. I’ve had my same bag for about three years now and it’s only half gone.
I also reviewed another favorite brand, CONCENTR8ED. The creator, Sarah, has formulated a laundry bar that you just shred into your washing machine. I love this concept and it is very similar to TruEarth. Both are concentrated products that reduce waste not only physically, but also invisible waste. They have the same amount of loads as their liquid counterparts but weigh significantly less meaning they take up less room on a plane or ship and don’t burn as much fuel.
Other great options are all-natural BunchFarmers laundry powder and Seventh Generation liquid detergent. I know, SG isn’t the best, but it’s hands down the most accessible and easiest to use (not the weirdest swap). So, there are options whether you want to go all-out hippie and use nuts or keep it semi-normal with concentrated sheets or bars or use something that doesn’t deviate too far from the norm with powder or liquid.
1. Cora Ball
This is the first one I’ve tried. There are a lot of microfiber catchers out there, but Cora ball is easily the cheapest and easiest to use. This little ball is made of recycled waste in the US and is designed to catch loose microfibers in the wash. So, it is not really capable of catching all the little pieces but it does catch bigger strings. This is still important so these don’t end up in our waterways. But, if you’re looking to catch more microplastics, maybe consider one of the other options.
2. Guppy Bag
What is this? This is another microfiber catcher I’ve been wanting to try. It’s quite the opposite of the Cora Ball. The Cora Ball catches fibers after they’ve fallen off but before they go in the pipes while the Guppy Bag keeps the fibers contained within the bag which seems a little more reliable. The bag is rather big but you don’t need to put all your clothing in here, only synthetics (like polyester, rayon, etc). Natural fibers like hemp, cotton, wool, and so forth are not harmful to the environment if their microfibers escape.
3. Microfiber filter
There is a super affordable filter (only $40!!) from Girlfriend Collective. Since I am not a homeowner I decided not to get this especially since I’m moving so soon but I’d love to get this one day. This seems to be the best option because, once installed, you do your laundry as normal and it catches all the microplastics before they make it into our waterways.
I wash my clothing on cold for two main reasons. First, it takes extra energy to heat the water before it even washes your clothing. Second, cold or air temperature water is less impactful on our clothing. This is a small detail but it does reduce my personal and household emissions. I also turn my wash cycle to “eco-mode.”
Fabric softener, etc
I was unsure of what to call this category, but basically, I use my minimal detergent and that’s it. I don’t use scent boosters, fabric softeners, bleach, or anything like that. If you do want a natural fabric softener that will also disinfect your washing machine in the process, just add 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar per load.
You can still use your drying machine in a more eco way. First, set it to eco-mode if you have one. Second, just like your water, if you have a temperature control, don’t set it all the way to hot. Obviously, some heat is needed to dry the clothing in a machine, but turn the temperature down slightly to save energy.
Wool Dryer Balls/Silicone Dryer Balls
These are essential if you are a die-hard machine dry fan. Adding these to your load actually speeds up the dry time by helping to fluff up your laundry vs letting it get all clumped together. This, plus they actually reduce static so they remove the need for dryer sheets. You can also add essential oils to wool balls to give your clothing a slight scent. Just use essential oils that are rated for clothing (lemon can bleach clothing!).
This is hands down the best way to reduce your impact when doing laundry. This requires zero emissions and zero energy. We were lucky enough to source our drying rack second hand so I encourage you to check Facebook Marketplace and local thrift stores to score one second hand, too. This takes drying energy down to zero and it’s not much more work.
Use the power of the sun
Hand dry your items outside when possible. The sun will help dry your items faster (plus the wind) as well as the sun works as a disinfectant. You can even place sort-of-smelly items outside without washing them to get the smell out! But, do be careful as the sun can bleach your clothing. Some recommend turning your clothes inside out before placing in the sun, which might work, but you can also just grab them as soon as they are dry so they don’t get more sun than necessary.
Stains and Smells
I already mentioned this, but just in case anyone missed it, the sun works as a disinfectant. You can even place sort-of-smelly items outside without washing them to get the smell out! But, do be careful as the sun can bleach your clothing. Some recommend turning your clothes inside out before placing in the sun, which might work, but you can also just grab them as soon as they are dry so they don’t get more sun than necessary.
Say whatttt? Yup, the freezer can get out any weird smells and disinfect as well. Now, if you just ran for an hour, it would probably be best to actually wash it. But, if you have a shirt that is just a little funky, maybe a little musty or old smelling, pop it in the freezer for a few hours or even days. Should come out smelling a bit fresher!
Stain remover bars
Think of a Tide stick but make it Zero Waste, that’s what a stain remover bar is. I’m working on a video comparing 4 different brands side by side as well as a homemade spray. But, I love the bar because it lasts forever, makes for easy storage and traveling, and ships plastic-free and is super light. The one I have tested already, BunchaFarmers, works just as well as regular stain remover but it’s all-natural and low-waste.
Thank you so much for reading along. I hope this was helpful for you and maybe even inspires you to make your laundry routine a little more friendly.
As always, remember that your small changes have a big impact in the long run.