You use paper straws, say no to plastic bags and use reusable food containers for lunch. Small changes add up. Here are some tips to doing your laundry sustainably. These tips are good for the planet and for saving money too.
Don’t wash it it if it’s not dirty. Use smocks and aprons to protect clothes. Find vintage aprons at second hand shops or made by seniors for sale at local libraries.
Always fill up the machine. Fill your front loader to the top, turning the drum to make more room. With a regular cycle (lower numbers) the machine can really be stuffed, as long as closing it doesn’t put stress on the door. Be gentle with the door as the hinges are a weak point, as are the knobs.
Have enough clothes. If you are always doing a load because you run out of socks, buy more socks (or work out a system to keep them organized). You should have enough clothes to have something to wear when you are washing, plus something extra in case of emergency.
Hand wash the things you love. They will last longer. Hang them to dry.
Don’t have too many clothes. They tend to fall on the floor and require rewashing, and it’s harder to find what you need. So balance is key.
Have clothes you love. Wear them several times before you launder them.
Give family members or settle the idea with roommates and their partners, that each person has their own distinctive towels. They are more likely to reuse them.
When visiting friends offer to bring your own sheets, or a sleeping bag. Take the sheets you just took off the bed for changing. This takes stress off your friends and allows you to reuse the sheets when you get home. Same goes for towels although consider if you will need to travel with it wet.
Grey water from the bath or from the air conditioner can be reused for laundry. Keep a couple of buckets in the shower and pour the used water into the machine through the opening for detergent while the water is running. I’ve noticed that my machine adds water to the first cycle in intervals. I add water until the water stops running, and try to be around for the second addition of water as well.
Use a minimum of detergent. If your laundry smells like detergent after washing, you’re probably using too much. The extra soap also clogs up your machine. My go-to favorite is Ecover and I add about 1/3 less than what they suggest and the laundry turns out just fine. I don’t use a softener, because it’s not necessary.
Overly perfumed soap and laundry softener can disrupt your endocrine system. Avoid artificial smells. My dad used to scratch his arms after my mom laundered his clothes with regular commercial detergent. Now she uses ECOS now, an ecological brand found in Walmart and hardware stores, and the bulk sized jug goes a long way. The non-eco detergents can have harmful biological compounds in them that can irritate your skin.
Seventh Generation offers products you can find in regular shops too.
Hang laundry to dry.
Have more tips or products you want to share for sustainable laundering?