Laundry: everyone does it… but not everyone does it right.
Yep–believe it or not, there is a wrong way to do laundry! While washing and drying your clothes make your life cleaner, the impact of modern laundry methods is actually making the planet dirtier. By switching to more sustainable options, you can save yourself money, energy, time–and a whole lotta’ waste. Check out our favorite zero waste laundry products below!
What you’ll learn:
- 4 swaps (+3 bonus swaps) and steps to clean up your laundry routine
- Reasons why these alternatives top your typical laundry necessities – price-wise and for the planet!
- A look at our newest Non-Toxic Laundry Bundle!
Stain Remover Stick
Before sticking your clothes in the washer, remember to check for any stains so you don’t have to rewash. If you find any, you can use a natural stain removal stick that doesn’t come in plastic packaging.
We’ve all been there… white shirt, red soup, a total mess. Prepare your gorgeous item with a stain-removing soap stick from the brand Meliora! Made from organic coconut and sunflower oil, it gets the job done without damaging or wearing through your clothes. Using only natural ingredients, the only thing it’ll leave behind is fresh clothes and a lightweight scent.
To use, wet the stained area of your clothes and gently dap with the stick. After it’s nicely coated, wash like normal and it should be good as new.
Laundry Detergent Strips
How much laundry detergent do you use per wash? For some, the amount of detergent used is based on how “dirty” the items are, or by squinting at the detergent cap trying to figure out where the line is. Either way, when it comes to detergent, it’s far too easy to use too much.
The real issue here is that most laundry detergents aren’t very powerful, and people instead rely on quantity instead of quality, which in turn leaves chemicals in their clothes. Instead of pouring chemicals into the wash, or tossing in plastic-wrapped “pods” that contribute to microplastic pollution, we suggest trying strips!
These laundry detergent strips from the brand Tru Earth are not only packaged plastic-free (and recyclable) but are also completely biodegradable! Plus, you only need one strip per load of laundry because it’s ultra-concentrated and pre-measured for your convenience. No need to eyeball or overuse anymore with these!
The Cora Ball
Each and every time you wash synthetic clothes, blankets, or sheets, you are unknowingly contributing to a serious pollution problem facing our planet right now: microfibers. These microfibers, made out of plastic and chemical-covered non-plastics, come off of our clothes in the washing machine and then go out with the drain water. It’s estimated that one fleece jacket can shed up to 250,000 pieces per garment per wash, but you’d usually never see them! And even though the fibers are “micro”-sized, they’re making a massive impact.
Microfibers (and microplastics!) are so small that they are nearly invisible, which means that collecting and removing them from our waterways is pretty tough. They will never biodegrade, and usually bond with other chemical pollutants they bump into (think: pesticides and flame retardants). Once in the ocean, they’re easily ingested by plankton and other bottom feeders, which are then consumed by larger species, sending the toxins further up the food chain. And who is at the very end of the food chain? Us!
That’s where Cora Ball comes in. This little funky-looking ball, made of 100% recycled plastic, catches these fibers while they’re still in your washing drum before they can do serious damage. To use it, all you have to do is toss it in with your clothes, and wait. It’s that easy. After a few washes, you’ll begin to see fibers collecting in the spindles. Periodically, you can just pull them from the ball and throw those fibers away, where they can be contained and be sent directly to a landfill, rather than into our oceans.
And it really works. Studies at the University of Toronto have shown that the Cora Ball can catch as much as 26% of fibers in your washing machine. While this may not seem like much, if 10% of households used a Cora Ball, it would keep the equivalent of 30 million plastic water bottles from washing into our waterways each year!
Reusable Dryer Balls
Now that we’ve tackling washing your clothes… it’s time to dry them. Seems simple, right? Just throw your clothes in, maybe a dryer sheet or 4, and press the start button? Wrong.
Chemical-laden dryer sheets are not only wasteful, but they can actually ruin your clothes, and waste a lot of money. Dryer sheets often contain artificial fragrances and chemicals like benzyl acetate, ethanol, chloroform (uhh…), and many others. While these chemicals do a great job at coating fabric to make it feel silky soft, it’s not so kind to our bodies, causing irritation, respiratory issues, and headaches. Plus, they’re not contained to your dryer–these chemicals can release into the air of your home through your dryer vent!
Health effects aside, dryer sheets aren’t even the most effective way to dry your clothes! They are single-use, so they have to be purchased over and over. Plus, they aren’t as good at drying clothes as say… dryer balls, which means that you may have to run your machine for longer and spend more money on energy bills. This is because dryer balls work by lifting, fluffing, and separating laundry in the drum so that your clothes dry faster, more evenly, and with less energy–with some studies reporting 15-25% shorter dryer times. They collect lint like a pro, unlike flimsy dryer sheets, and can be infused with natural essential oils for a fresh laundry scent.
As if you needed one last reason to permanently make the switch to reusable dryer balls… they also fight fires. Each year, about 14,630 home fires are caused by clothes dryers, ⅓ of which comes from having too much lint in your dryer vent. And remember those nasty chemicals that come off of dryer sheets? They can create an unseen chemical buildup on your lint screen and dryer vent, which furthers the risk of fire.
Bonus: Microwaste Laundry Bag
This product works similar to the Cora Ball, but it is meant for your delicates. Since the Cora Ball uses spindles to catch fibers, it isn’t the best for more delicate items which can get caught and tear.
This Microwaste Washing Bag from the brand Guppyfriend collects microfibers from your synthetic delicates so you can easily discard them, without tearing up your lovely lingerie, socks, or athletic wear! Plus, the bag is made with recycled polyamide and is recyclable.
Bundle It All Up!
If you liked what we suggested, you’re in luck! One of our newest additions to the EarthHero marketplace is our Non-Toxic Laundry Bundle which features a Laundry Stain Removal Stick, Cora Ball, Laundry Detergent Strips, 2 Wool Dryer Balls, and a bonus mesh bag for your delicates! A great way to “go green” all at once, this bundle is just the thing for amping up your laundry routine. And don’t worry, we send it to you plastic-free in recycled and recyclable packaging!
Did we mention it makes a great housewarming gift as well?
This blog post was originally published on February 21, 2019 and was most recently updated on October 27, 2022.
From tackling microplastics in the washing machine to saving money & reducing waste with reusable dryer balls, we’re changing the way you look at laundry one product at a time. What are your plastic-free go-to’s?