The lack of our society’s interest in living the nudist life means we don’t have any choice BUT to do laundry. It is the burden we all must bear. 😉
Doing laundry uses up a lot of energy and since it’s unavoidable, we put together some tips to make our laundry routines more earth-friendly.
Wash your clothing only when needed. Wearing your clothing once and tossing it in the hamper will end up wearing out your clothing faster, and you’ll have a lot more laundry to do at the end of the week. When you stretch out the number of times you wash your clothes, it helps your clothing last longer and saves energy.
Our advice? If it looks clean and smells clean, keep wearing it. A trick I’ve used to extend my shirt-wear an extra day is giving it a spritz of water, witch hazel, and essential oils. (My go-to mix is tea tree, cedar wood, and sweet orange for its antibacterial properties and its ‘I-smell-like-a-forest’ scent.) Witch hazel helps the essential oils and water combine, is antibacterial, and is a natural deodorizer.
Most washing machines use the same amount of energy regardless of the size of the load. Doing a full load of laundry will maximize your energy use.
Choose your water temperature wisely. Both cold and hot water washes have different benefits. Most of the time, a cold wash is where it’s at. Approximately 75 to 90 per cent of the energy your washer uses goes towards warming up the water. Choosing a cold wash ends up saving money in the long run. Cold water is gentler on fabric and helps remove stains.
A hot wash is best when you need to sanitize due to sickness, especially when it comes to shared items like towels and blankets.
Before you decide what is best for your load of laundry, be sure to read the label on your clothes.
Pick an eco-friendly laundry detergent. The difference between eco-friendly laundry detergents and conventional laundry detergents comes down to the ingredients. Although conventional detergents are the cheaper option, they are made from synthetic petrochemicals that are hard on the environment and on our health.
Eco-friendly laundry detergents are made with the planet and your health in mind. A study done by Seventh Generation showed that if all households in the U.S. replaced their conventional detergent with a plant-based one, nearly 150,000 barrels of oil could be saved. There’s a wide range of eco products on the market, and it can be overwhelming to confidently make the switch. Some key features to look for are:
- Not animal tested
- Packaged in recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable packaging
- Good for use in both a cold and warm water
- Has an eco-certified label
Naturally remove stains. Stains happen. Especially if you’re clumsy like me. (I’ve given up wearing light colours due to it being a coffee magnet.) We’ve got some tricks to get out those tough stains and save our favourite basics.
- The sun—That gorgeous beam of light is not only great for increasing serotonin, giving vitamin D, and keeping the planet habitable, it also takes stains out of clothes. It brightens whites, works its magic, and dries your clothing all at the same time.
- Lemon—Fresh lemon juice whitens whites and works out tough stains. This is best for light coloured clothing as lemon can discolour darker clothes.
- Baking soda—Baking soda lifts stains out of fabric. A paste of baking soda and water is great for removing sweat stains.
- Dish soap—Oil stains are the worst. Try to catch this stain as soon as possible by gently dabbing dish soap on the spot. Corn starch is also an alternative for removing oil stains.
Heat seals in a stain. Make sure to keep any stained clothing out of hot water and the dryer. Sometimes it can take more than one try to get out a tough stain. Be persistent!
Capture microfibres. Microfibres are released every time we wash synthetic clothing. Microplastics are an issue that needs our attention. The good news is that sustainable fabrics are reducing the impact of microplastics on the planet, and we can take steps towards keeping microplastics out of our waterways by using new inventions to capture the microfibres when we do our laundry.
Air dry your clothes. Like the sun, air is another natural gift for doing laundry. Whether you are hanging it to dry, using a clothes line, laundry rack, or laying items flat on every surface of your space, you’ll end up lowering your carbon footprint significantly if you don’t use the dryer. Air drying your clothing is better for the life-span of your clothes. Be mindful of certain fabrics and how they prefer to dry. Some fabrics stretch out more than others when they are hung to dry versus laid flat to dry.
Can’t avoid using the dryer? Here are some ways to maximize your use:
- Clean out the lint filter to shorten drying time. This also helps eliminate the risk of a dryer fire.
- If your dryer has a moisture sensor, that will shorten the amount of time your clothing needs to be in the dryer. If it doesn’t, gauge what you’re putting in and how long it needs to be in the dryer and adjust accordingly.
- Replace single-use dryer sheets and try wool dryer balls to reduce static, shorten drying time, and soften your clothing.
There are many steps to take to make our day-to-day routines more sustainable. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all that needs to change. Remember to keep yourself grounded. Even the small steps you take to love on Mama Earth are steps in the right direction.
Have any sustainable laundry tips? You know we’d love to hear ‘em!
Jade is a freelance writer and copy editor, living in a sleepy town in Northern Ontario. She loves growing plants, playing with dirt, and staying cozy.