10 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Laundry Routine

The 10 Best Tips for an Eco-Friendly Laundry Routine - A Drop in the Ocean Zero Waste Blog
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 This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on May 20, 2024.

Hey there friend

I was about to say “I’m officially all moved into my new home!” but then I realized that’s a lie 🤣 

My partner and I definitely still have plenty to do at the old place and many boxes to unpack at the new one, but we’ve got the important stuff all done and have been ~loving~ our new home so far.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding last week when I had to skip a week of Make Waves Mondays and push back some order fulfillment for a few days. I’ve got my new office all set up (complete with a new desk!) and I’m ready to get rockin’ and rollin’ with ADITO once again 🎉

Now for this week’s blog, I wanna try something a bit different than we’ve done in the past…and I’d LOVE your feedback on it at the end! I’m pretty excited about it, but I’m curious what you think.

So let’s dive into it!

Let’s do a load of laundry…sustainably 🧺💦

It’s one of those sad truths of adulting that you’re literally never done with laundry.

Even when you think you’re done, you change into your jammies at the end of the day and now you’re left with more laundry to do.

And it’s NEVER as fun as this guy is making it out to be…

laundry dance gif

So for something that we’re all doing all the time, it makes sense that this would be a FANTASTIC place to focus on reducing our eco-impact, right??

It’s not something NEW you need to add into your routine. 

You’re already doing it.

So let’s just do it…better.

So without further ado, here are 10 of my favorite fool-proof tips for an eco-friendly laundry routine:

1. Wash less often.

Every time we wash our clothes, they wear out just little bit more. Their colors fade, their fibers shed, and they might even be shrinking, too.

Did you know that Levi’s recommends washing their jeans only after every 10 wears? Yet in the US, most people wash their jeans after every 2.3 wears (source).

Unless your clothes are actually dirty, or sweaty, or maybe a lil’ bit stinky, wear ‘em again! You’ll save energy, water, and your clothes.

2. Run full loads.

If you’re running the washer with half-full loads all the time, you’re missing out on a great way to save some water (and by extension money!). Wait until you’ve got a full load of laundry to do before tossing it in the machine so you’re not wasting water, time, and money!

3. Learn the laundry care symbols.

I know the laundry symbols looks like total gibberish, but I promise they all actually have meanings. Learn what the different symbols mean so you can properly wash everything to keep them in tip-top shape as long as possible.

Laundry Symbols You Should Know

4. Use a natural laundry detergent.

Did you know that at the beginning of 2023, New York banned several well-known laundry detergent brands due to a possibly carcinogenic synthetic chemical called 1,4-Dioxane?

So many detergents out there are filled with things like synthetic fragrances, synthetic surfactants, and artificial dyes that can cause things like skin irritation, rashes, allergic reactions, eye and lung inflammation, and asthma.

No thank you.

By using a natural laundry detergent (and ditching the plastic jugs in the process), you’ll keep harmful chemicals out of our waterways and protect your family’s skin, eyes, and lungs. 

(And you’ll save some money in the process.)

Read more here...

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Refillable Laundry Detergent
Laundry brand price comparisons

5. Wash on cold.

A whole ~90%~ of the energy used to wash your clothes comes just from heating the water

Yeah… Only 10% of the energy used to wash our clothes comes from actually running the washing machine 😳

By switching from warm to cold water for just one load of laundry per week, over a year, you’ll save the same amount of emissions as not driving 77 miles in an average car. It’s absolutely wild but it’s also true!

Cold water works just as well as warm, so give it a shot for your next load of laundry if you’re not already!

Read more here...

6. Use a delicates bag.

If you’re not already putting your delicate items in a mesh bag when you wash them, what are you waiting for??

Grab a couple of delicates bags and start using them! 

I put so much in mine…my period undies, my favorite shirts, my sports bras that I’ve had since high school…

The bag helps to avoid stretching, minimizes friction, and overall just helps extend the life of your clothes (and prevents excess microfiber shedding).

7. Use a microfiber catcher.

And speaking of shedding microfibers, invest in a microfiber catcher!

Every time we wash our clothes, the friction and heat causes them to shed fibers. 

If the fabrics are synthetic (polyester is a plastic-based material), then we’re literally washing plastic down our drains.

There are a few different types of microfiber catchers, and none of them are 100% effective, but just because we can’t do everything doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something.

Check out a Guppyfriend bag, a Cora Ball, or a microfiber filter that attaches to your washing machine.

(Personally, I have a Guppyfriend bag and I also love to use it as a delicates bag!)

Guppyfriend bag

Image from Guppyfriend website

8. Hang-dry whenever possible.

If every household in the United States hang-dried just half of their laundry instead of tumble-drying, we could save as many greenhouse gas emissions as we would by taking 161,000 cars off the road completely for an entire year.

I mean, that right there feels like such a no-brainer, but add in the cost-savings associated with hang-drying, the natural bleach alternative the sun provides, and the fact that our clothes last way longer when we hang-dry…there’s literally no downside here.

Read more here...

9. Clean your lint trap and dryer vent.

I know the dryer says to clean the lint trap between every load, but are you actually doing it?

By keeping the lint trap clean, the dryer can work more efficiently, saving anywhere from 50% to 75% of the drying time, while also extending the dryer’s lifespan and reducing risk of fire.

The same goes for the dryer vent. Clean that sucker out at least every couple of years!

Read more here...

10. Ditch dryer sheets for natural wool dryer balls.

And of course, last but not least, swap out your dryer sheets and fabric softener for natural wool dryer balls

They’re a totally zero waste alternative to plastic, toxic, and flammable dryer sheets that will save you a boatload of cash just in their first year, while also cutting your laundry’s drying time by 10-25%.

Read more here...

A Drop in the Ocean Sustainable Living Zero Waste Shop Wool Dryer Balls

All in all, there are SO many ways to green up our daily routines, and washing our clothes, towels, and bedsheets is no exception.

But don’t feel like you have to do everything all at once.

Start with just one or two of these tips, and after you’ve mastered those, move on to the next.

Sustainable living is a journey, and one that’s never fully completed.

So take your time, enjoy the winding road, and do what you can, when you can, where you can.

(And like I said at the top of the post, let me know what you thought of this week’s blog! Just comment below and lemme know! 💙)

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