How to Make Your Laundry Routine More Eco-Friendly
Laundry is not my favorite chore. In case you were wondering, I am more of a vacuuming kinda gal. Anyone else? But, alas, there’s just no way to avoid laundry — we all need clean clothes. And while I don’t love this part of my week, I do appreciate the fact that I’ve been able to establish a simple eco-friendly laundry routine. An eco laundry routine that both extends the lifecycle of my clothes and helps to reduce my carbon footprint. Establishing an eco-friendly laundry routine doesn’t have to be complicated. And to prove it to you, I want to share 5 simple ways to make your laundry routine more eco-friendly.
1. Wash less
How often do you wash your clothes in between wears?
According to Levis, washing your jeans every 10 times they’re worn, instead of every 2 times, reduces energy use, climate change impact, and water intake by up to 80%. Plus, not washing your jeans as often will help to preserve them so you can wear them longer.
If you’re freaking out about bacteria, here’s a bit of solace: “A somewhat unscientific experiment by a Canadian student found little difference in the bacterial load between one pair of jeans worn for 15 months without washing and another pair worn for 13 days.”
How to keep your jeans fresh between wears:
- Spray your jeans every so often with a deodorizer. You can make one yourself by diluting 1 tablespoon of baking soda in 2 cups of water and adding 5-10 drops of essential oil.
- Or, just spray a bit of white vinegar or vodka on your jeans every so often and then let them air dry for a bit.
- To help preserve your jeans, turn them inside out before every wash and then, rather than putting them in the dryer, air dry them.
Eco Tip: Wash with cold water whenever possible! This will save energy and help your clothes last longer!
2. Hand Wash
When possible, hand wash your items. I realize most of us don’t have time to wash all our laundry by hand. But when it comes to washing delicate items such as silk, cashmere, lace, etc. hand washing garments, when done properly, can help extend the of your garments. Taking care of clothes = buying less + sending less textile to landfills!!
Best way to hand wash delicates?
- Step 1: Fill a clean sink (or a bucket) with cold water.
- Step 2: Add a tiny bit of detergent to cold water. I like using Meliora’s laundry detergent + soap stick.
- Step 3: Submerge your garment into the sink. Once it’s completely submerged, let it soak for a few minutes stirring it around occasionally. (Note: If your garment is extremely dirty, consider letting it soak for an additional 10 or 15 minutes)
- Step 4: Rinse all the soap out of your garment and then squeeze out any excess water.
- Step 5: Hang it out to dry. I usually hang my wet items in the tub, this allows for any excess water to drain out rather than to create tiny little puddles on the floor.
Fun tip: Listen to fun music or your favorite podcast or call that friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with while washing your garments. It makes time to go by so much faster and makes what some consider a boring chore much more enjoyable!
3. Hang Dry
I’ve never been a huge fan of line drying my clothes. I always thought it would take too much time and be more of a pain in the butt than anything —who has time to line dry jeans?! But, truth be told, the repetitive task of hang drying my clothes is actually, dare I say, kind of relaxing and, in all actuality, it only takes me about 10 min. Plus, if you’re hang drying outside, you get to enjoy a bit of fresh air and some sunshine. Note: Not all states, or neighborhoods, allow line drying clothes. So if you live in a community where you aren’t permitted to do so, line drying your clothes inside also works!
That being said, I do not hang dry all my clothes every time I do laundry. I do though, hang dry small loads, delicates, and workout clothes so the elasticity doesn’t wane as quickly.
Benefits of Line Drying?
- Line drying clothes in direct sunlight actually helps to disinfect your clothes. The sun’s ultraviolet light has disinfecting properties (Times).
- Line drying clothes, whether indoor or outdoor, saves money, is a more environmentally sustainable option, and helps to preserve your clothes so they can last longer.
- Air-drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year. If all Americans line-dried for just half a year, it would save 3.3% of the country’s total residential output of carbon dioxide.
Eco Tip: More often than not, activewear is not dryer friendly. The heat is known to wear away on the elastic properties and weakens the material — leading to tears, holes, picks, and runs. Best practice is to line dry active wear (sports bras, leggings, etc.) Also, it’s best to wash your active wear in cold water.
4. Avoid Dryer Sheets
While dryer sheets might be intended to be used, well, in the dryer, that doesn’t mean they’re good for your health. “They are bad for your respiratory system, your skin, and moreover, the environment,” says Dr. Elizabeth Trattner A.P. DOM, doctor of Chinese and Integrative Medicine. “These are toxic and cause long-term health hazards. It is worth throwing them out and trading them in for a healthier option like scented wool balls using essential oils.” Consider using wool dryer balls instead.
Also, don’t put your nice things in the dryer, if at all possible. “The heat will shorten the lifespan of a bra and wear down the latex, lace and other fabric in it,” according to Dr. Elizabeth Trattner A.P. DOM. “Treat your undergarments with respect. Put bras in special lingerie bags and remove them and hang them from the washing machine or better yet hand wash and hang dry.”
5. Reduce Microfibers
Did you know one polyester fleece jacket sheds almost 1 million microfibers per wash?
Did you know every time we do a load of laundry, our clothes shed tiny microfibers (aka tiny plastic filaments that are woven together to make fabrics like polyester, nylon, acrylic, etc.) which end up in our waterways? Yup, true story. The fibers are so small that they escape wastewater treatment facilities and enter our freshwater bodies and the ocean where they can be inhaled or eaten by anything from plankton all the way up to whales. And, as long as the plastic remains in their guts, the toxins that microfibers contain can migrate into fishes’ flesh, consumed in turn by humans. 1 in 4 fish sampled at a California fish market were found to contain plastic microfibers.
A recent study by the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, estimated about 64,000 pounds of microfibers enter our water systems daily in the U.S. alone. According to Surf Rider, “preliminary studies have linked accumulated microplastics in humans with disrupted gut microbiome and enhanced inflammatory response.” More research is still being done but it appears as though we may be ingesting more microplastics than we thought. (You can read more about the research here.)
How to reduce microfibers from entering the water ways:
- Use a Cora Ball: A micro-fiber catching laundry ball.
If 10% of US households use a Cora Ball, we can keep the plastic equivalent to over 30 million water bottles from washing into our public waterways every year. That is enough water bottles to reach from New York City to London.
- Use a Guppyfriend Washing Bag: A washing bag that collects microfibers from synthetic clothing. Simply place your clothing inside the bag and place it in the wash.
- Consider installing a microfiber filter to your washing machine. Planet Care is one of the first brands to offer this solution. According to their website their cartridges will filter out 80 – 90% of microfibres from your laundry. You can mail back the filled cartridges and they’ll mail you new ones.
- If possible, buy less synthetic clothing. This will help to reduce the amount of microfibers produced with each wash.
- Use a Cora Ball: A micro-fiber catching laundry ball.
So, there you have it, 5 ways to help make your laundry routine more eco-friendly. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite eco and natural laundry detergent brands here.
Other posts you might enjoy:
– Where & How To Donate Your Used Clothes