There are endless ways you can change your daily routine to better serve and protect the planet. Many times, individuals think the only way they can make a positive impact on the world is by switching the types of products they use. They forget that it is how you use them that matters too! A perfect example of this is how we choose to do our laundry. Switching detergents to a more eco-friendly option is always beneficial! However, you can take it a step further by participating in the zero-waste laundry movement.
How to do zero-waste laundry
When should you wash?
First off, hardly anyone likes to do laundry. How many of us throw clothes into the washer, forget about them, and have to restart them? I know I sure do!
Everyone decides to wash their clothes at different times. Some may choose to wear their jeans a few times before washing and others may only wear them once. Though, if you are looking to cut waste in the laundry room, washing your clothes less often may be the answer.
The perfect time to re-wear clothing is when you have hardly done anything in the clothes you wore. If this is the case, simply place or hang your clothes in a clean area to wear later. If you are new to this idea and struggle with putting your clothes to the side to re-wear without doing anything, you can spritz them with some diluted vinegar in water. This combination is a known natural disinfectant.
As for towels, let them hang out and dry between uses! Don’t forget them on the bathroom floor after a long shower. Hanging them up will help air them out and prevent that dreaded mildew smell we hate!
When you actually do go to wash your clothes or towels, make sure to only start a load when it is full!
How should you wash?
When washing, it is a smart idea to use the cold setting on your washer. This simple switch can save a ton of energy and money! Consumer Reports estimates a savings of around $60 a year on utilities when washing on a cooler setting.
Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent
Switching to a more eco-friendly and zero-waste laundry detergent is crucial! The impact normal laundry soap has on the planet is immense. It is estimated that more than one billion laundry jugs are discarded every year in the United States! That is just the impact of the container. There are several other factors contributing to its negative environmental impact such as the harmful non-biodegradable chemicals housed in these soaps.
There are several forms of zero-waste laundry detergent one can use. Soaps come in liquids, powders, sheets, pods, and more. Here are some of our favorites!
These soap options have been around for some time for those wishing to have a more natural and zero-waste laundry routine. However, there are new options becoming available as these brands have encountered a higher demand for eco-friendly materials. One of the most popular and steadily growing of these options is soapnuts.
Soapnuts are the most natural and zero-waste laundry option you can have for your household! They are small berries that have been cracked open and left to dry in the sun. Once dried, they have a dark golden shell around them. All you have to do when using soapnuts is pop them into a load of laundry and watch your clothes come out clean!
There is a lot you can learn about soapnuts and their many uses. However, for now, here are two easy locations you can purchase them!
Finally, many people will also opt to use a homemade laundry detergent. By using a homemade detergent recipe and using containers you already have at home, you are participating in the ultimate zero-waste laundry experience!
In a perfect zero-waste and eco-friendly world, everyone would hang their laundry to dry. However, we don’t live in that world. We are busy people and don’t have enough time in the day to hang our clothes and wait for them to dry. So, we need to find a happy medium.
Try to hang as many clothes, with metal pegs over plastics ones, as you can! Though, if you are in a hurry for your clothes to be dry, it is okay! You are already doing a great job elsewhere in your journey with zero-waste laundry.
If you want to try your hardest for zero-waste laundry but need your clothes fast, try using the low-heat setting option on your dryer before hanging. This will speed up the dry time on your clothes. When the dryer is finished, your clothes may not be entirely dry but you will hang them for far less time than if you hung them straight from the washer.
No matter if you use the low-heat option or the high, it is crucial to keep your lint trap clean. Not only is a full lint trap a safety concern, it can also reduce your dryer’s efficiency. It is estimated that this reduction is close to 30%! This means your clothes will need to spend a longer time in the dryer to become dry.
The opposite of what we want!
Keeping the lint trap clean will help your dryer do its best job possible and get your clothes dry!
The absolute best and most favorite choice for your softening agent is using zero-waste humane wool dryer balls! These wool balls are made from natural fibers that can be reused for an extended period.
If you like to add dryer sheets that have a particular smell to your clothes, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to these wool dryer balls for the same effect!
Another alternative would be to make your own dryer sheets. There are many ‘recipes’ out here guiding you on how to do this. Though, the simplest one involves filling a container with vinegar and essential oils and placing old clothes in it. When it is time to dry your clothes, you simply wring out your cloth and throw it in!
Clean up your laundry act
Everyone does laundry! It is a part of life that is unavoidable even though some of us may try to avoid it.
While it may be a part of our routine we don’t necessarily love, it is time to dedicate time to improving it!
Practising a zero-waste laundry routine is the perfect way to help and protect the planet!