When I began my journey to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, I was initially overwhelmed and under the impression that I had to change everything at once.  But this mentality could not be further from the truth.  We can make huge differences by starting small, that is choosing an area that you can make a positive impact quickly and easily.  Having a family with four sons, it was not difficult to see where we were creating a lot of unnessary waste every time we took out our trash and recyclables.  Each week we were putting multiple empty cardboard boxes and plastic jugs of laundry detergent, fabric softener, and bleach to the curb.  Knowing I just could not stop doing laundry, I began looking into some alternative options to help us reduce our laundry waste.

Here’s what I found ...

Tracy Peterson  -- May 10, 2018

Greening Your Laundry

We went for compact efficiency ...

Citations, Links, & References ...

Thanks for reading and for sharing ~ Tracy 

With some basic research I learned that some laundry products were toxic to our health and environment.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some chemicals and ingredients found in everyday household cleaning and laundry products can result in a wide array of air quality, health, and environmental issues. For this reason, the EPA suggests using green products to reduce hazardous risks, even when some of those risks are low and to seek products with reduced or recycled packaging and to use spray pumps over aerosols.  By choosing greener products we can often reduce health, environmental, and even financial waste.

EPA (2018, February 13). Greening Your Purchase of Cleaning Products: A Guide For Federal Purchasers.  Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/greenerproducts/greening-your-purchase-cleaning-products-guide-federal-purchasers

Mazzoni, M. (2013,  October 31). 10 Ways to Repurpose Used Dryer Sheets. [Blog] Earth911. Retrieved from  https://earth911.com/home-garden/repurpose-used-dryer-sheets/

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Over the last couple of years, I have read up on and tried numerous green laundry products.  I have found that I have signficantly reduced unnessary waste and saved us hundreds per year by switching over to green laundry products.  Below you will find the products we regularly use with my personal reviews.

When we moved to our new home we knew we would need to eventually replace the stacked washer dryer combo that came with the house. Unfortunately, the machine gave out sooner than we expected so we had to replace it much earlier than planned. Living in a 750 square foot home with a tiny laundry room, size and efficiency mattered significantly.  We looked at multiple stackable machines before I thought to use the search terms "tiny home laundry." Immediately I was presented with a wide variety of options that I had not even heard about.  After a lot of research and knowing our personal needs and lifestyle, we opted with a washer dryer combo by Haier.  

I absolutely LOVE this machine.  It is energy and water efficient and takes up about the same amount of space as an average size dishwasher.  It has multiple settings that include delicates, permanent press, and bulky.  I can choose to wash only, dry only, or wash and dry with various water and heat temperature settings.  One of the concerns I read about was that the machine did not dry the clothes.  After further research, I learned that the clothes did indeed feel wet when they came out but it was only because the steam needed to evaporate.  This is true. When I first take the laundry out, I have learned to give it a quick shake and I hang my bulkier items for just a couple minutes.   The wash cycles are pretty quick, but in all honesty, the drying cycle can take a bit longer than usual. A full round of wash and dry averages about 2-2 1/2 hours depending on the cycles chosen and size of the load.

Additionally, we host an AirBnB so we regularly use this machine for washing sheets, blankets, and duvet covers.  I have had this machine for almost a year now and my experience has been nothing but positive.  Our laundry always comes out clean, fresh and static free! Even our AirBnB guests cannot tell that we are using eco-friendly products.

Say NO more to dryer sheets ...

What I like about using Soap Nuts is that they are biodegradeable, compostable, and very affordable.    I personally found that a large bag of soap nuts lasted me several months and I reuse the cloth bags for various household storage needs. 

Soap nuts are super easy to use.  Simply add 4-6 soap nuts to the reusable cloth bag (its a spice bag) tie it shut (I use elastic bands or twine) and toss into your washer instead of regular detergent. The soap nuts can be reused several times before being composted.  On average I reused the Soap Nuts 3-4 washes. You'll know they've been used to their fullest when they remain "mushy" when dried between uses.

Soap Nuts can be found in many health and organic stores.  I encourage you to shop local when and where you can.  If you are unable to find Soap Nuts near you, you can find Soap Nuts for a great price on Amazon.

In addition to Soap Nuts, because I like to shop affordability when it comes to my buying options, I also use Savvy Green laundry detergent going with which ever offers the best price at the time I need to replenish.  

Savvy Green comes in fragrance free and scented varieties and what blew me away was how little is needed for each load of laundry.  A tablespoon of this detergent cleans a large load and half a tablespoon is more than enough to clean a small load.  On average we wash 1-2 loads of laundry a day (more on weeks that  we are washing the bedding and towels from our AirBnB) and a 2.73 pound bag of this detergent lasts us on average two to three months.  Like the soap nuts, our laundry always comes out clean and fresh!  Although it comes in plastic packaging, because the detergent is so concentrated and I am replenishing over months instead of weeks I feel good about not creating an abundance of unnessary waste!

Reducing laundry detergent waste ...

Obviously, choosing the right detergent for your laundry care is and should be a very personal choice.  There is a lot to consider based including health, fragrance, budget, and of course your lifestyle and needs.  Once upon a time, what feels like a lifetime ago, I used to be what today is referred to as an "extreme couponer" and I've tried most brands along the way thanks to those promotional coupons.  Today, I have a very different view when it comes to my laundry needs.  As mentioned above, my family laundry was a huge contributer to the amount of waste we were producing.  Additionally, due to allergies and skin conditions choosing the right detergent with the most natural ingredients became vital to our health.  In my endeavors to go cleaner, greener, and healthier I found that the following products provide me and my family with great laundry care, long-term savings, and results in very little waste!

Although dryer sheets are certainly convenient and can serve multiple purposes such as keeping stored clothing, bedding, and shoes smelling fresh, dusting, cleaning, and even as a rodent repellent, I have opted to use reusable washer and dryer balls.  

Reusable washer and dryer balls are exactly that ... reusable! And, they WORK!  I have not used dryer sheets or liquid fabric softener in over two years now and I have zero regrets!  My laundry always comes out of the dryer static free and super soft.  All this said, I do want to share that I have not experienced the same results when hang drying my laundry.  Wool balls do work best when used with a dryer.  However,  if you prefer to hang dry (as I do as often as possible), if you half dry your wash using the dryer balls you should find that your air dryed laundry is soft and static free.

I use two different kinds of laundry balls.  The plastic, stubbed laundry balls seen here are great for enhancing the laundry cleaning cycle and softening the fabric.  

Like the nubbed dryer balls, wool dryer balls reduce static but also reduce dry time!  I do not think that I could choose one over the other.  Personally, I have found that the combination of using both serves a great eco-friendly purpose.  Both eliminate my need to continually buy dryer sheets which both reduces my product packaging and overall waste while saving me lots of money each year. 

Whereas I add the nubbed balls to my laundry during the wash cycle, the wool dryer balls work best if added to the drying cycle.  As mentioned above, I am using a washer dryer combo that quite often goes from wash to dry without me having to switch over.  This said, for my purposes, I do need to set to a wash only cycle then add the wool dryer balls before drying.  But, if you are like most, you likely have two separate machines.  If this is the case ... I suggest using the nubbed balls for the washing and the wool balls for the drying.  In doing so, you should find that you no longer need dryer sheets and in the long-term will save time, money, and reduce your carbon footprint in process!