Now that you have the tools of the trade, today we’re going to be going over how to actually wash your clothes in a greener way!
Let’s get started, after all reading about doing the laundry is way better than actually doing it, right?
The first step towards greening your laundry is to determine the hardness of your water. You can pick up pH strips at your local Lowes that will help you test your water and figure this out.
When you know whether you have hard or soft water your next move is to decide if you want to wash with a soap or a detergent. Here’s a quick break down to decide which is best for you:
Soap is better for the environment than conventional detergents because it is made of materials found in nature. But, soap can react with the minerals in hard water, leaving a scummy residue on your clothes. If you have soft water, soap flakes will clean your clothes. You can also purchase liquid Castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) and use about an ounce of soap to an average laundry load.
(I know what you’re thinking, Ally, this is like the 3rd time you’ve talked about how awesome Dr. Bronner’s soap is. Is there anything it can’t do? The answer is no. But I’ll get there eventually)
But, if you’re like me and you have hard water, detergent is the way to go. Just make sure (as I mentioned yesterday) you’re choosing a laundry detergent made with renewable materials or sustainable veggie oils.
When choosing a washing temperature, remember that the lower the temp, the more detergent you will need. But, water too hot will set stains. Opt for a prewash in cool water with a wash in warm water.
Say goodbye to chlorine bleach and reach, instead, for oxygen bleach. Oxy bleach works better in hot water, if you want to use cooler water allow time for the clothes to soak. (We use the Honest Oxy pods)
While you’re tossing all those other things out, add your usual dryer sheets to the trash. Opt instead for wool dryer balls (like these from LooHoo) which will naturally soften your clothes! I bought plastic ones from Bed Bath and Beyond that work great!
One of the hardest thing to launder are those adorable cloth diapers! Let me break it down for you.
The first thing you’ll need is a good pre-wash rinse. Throw all your diapers in the laundry and run a cold rinse cycle. This gets rid of any remaining solids left on the diaper. (Deeelightful, right?)
Next, if your diapers are especially stinky, look for a rise aid or soaking detergent that will cut through that ammonia smell that builds up over time. I love Rock in Green’s Funk Rock. I’ve spoken with other cloth diaper Momma’s and many recommend Charlies and EcoSprouts too.
I fill a 5 gallon bucket with hot water and about 4 tablespoons of Funk Rock and let MJ’s diapers soak for about an hour. (Pee Soup, anyone?)
Next you’ll want to rinse in cold water followed by a wash in warm with a natural detergent. If you have hard water make sure your detergent works well for hard water. You can also use your normal natural detergent with a cap of Calgon to soften the water.
If you have soft water, during your final rinse cycle add some white vinegar to naturally soften your diapers. (Don’t use vinegar if you have hard water!)
When it comes to diapers, if you are using pocket diapers the inserts can be put in the dryer. You should always air dry the shells so you don’t wear out the water proof liner.
If you have stains or stank you can’t seem to shake. Squeeze a little lemon juice on your diapers and let them dry out in the sunlight. The lemon will deodorize and the sun will brighten, all naturally.
I don’t know about your neck of the woods but Indiana right now is experiencing second winter so I have a problem putting my clothes out on a line to dry, which is the most eco-friendly way to dry clothes. To make up, I take my folding laundry rack to different areas of our house so they can sit in the tiny ray of sunlight that comes through our windows like a cat.
If you live in a town like I do where eco-friendly products are harder to find then a needle in a haystack, look for larger eco-friendly brands like Method, Seventh Generation or you can make your own. All you’ll need is Bar Soap (Unscented, natural), Borax, and Washing Soda (also called Sodium Carbonate or Soda Ash).
Powdered Laundry Soap:
1.) Grate the bar soap until it’s finely ground
2.) In a large bowl, mix 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts Borax, 1 part grated soap.
3.) Store in an air-tight container (like a Mason jar)
4.) Use 1/8 – 1/4 cup of soap per load of laundry
Liquid Laundry Soap:
1.) Grate the bar soap
2.) Put grated soap in a pan with 2 quarts of water, gradually heating and stirring until soap is dissolved
3.) Put 4.5 gallons of hot tap water in a 5-gallon bucket and stir in 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup Washing Soda until dissolved
4.) Pour soap mixture from pan into 5-gallon bucket and stir
5.) Cover and leave overnight
6.) Shake or stir until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers
7.) Use 1/2 – 1 cup per load.
To make your own laundry detergent you could be cutting your laundry bill in half (who doesn’t like the sound of that?)
So that ends my Laundry series, stay tuned for more green living tips.
Thanks for looking!