Wondering how to do laundry sustainably? These eco-friendly laundry tips will help you achieve that 'green' household status in a short amount of time.
Sophie Barrow, Co-Owner of KINN Living (opens in new tab) explains , 'As an individual, the fight against climate change can seem hopeless. How much impact can one person have on the planet? But it's important to remember that you're not fighting alone - everyone's efforts have an impact, especially when we all fight together.'
And as well as reducing the environmental impact of your washing, you're highly likely to save money along the way too. By using fewer commercially made laundry products, and by perhaps even transforming the way you shop for clothes, your bank balance is going to benefit from these really simple changes.
It goes without saying that investing in an energy-saving, smart washing machine is a great move sustainability-wise, and that it's worth considering to make our green laundry suggestions even more effective.
Read on for our favourite green laundry tips and for more advice on living more sustainably, visit our eco hub.
- Use our guide to washing symbols to make sure you’re choosing the right programme, time and temperature.
1. Switch to an eco-friendly laundry detergent
The first and most obvious eco-friendly laundry tip is to switch to a plant-based liquid detergent. Plant-based detergents are just as effective as commercial detergents, but they typically contain fewer ingredients and biodegrade when they reach waterways. Which one should you choose? We've done the hard work for you and rounded up the best eco friendly washing powders and liquids.
Sophie Barrow explains more, 'Regular washing detergent is not just unhealthy for you and your family, but it is bad for the environment. Standard detergent does not degrade quickly, it often contains optical brighteners (which makes fabric appear brighter) and phosphates which can be life threatening for fish.'
Tip: Not all 'natural' detergents are palm oil free, so always check the ingredient list.
2. Skip the fabric softener or choose an eco-friendly laundry liquid
Many people swear by fabric softener – it makes towels softer and ironing more manageable – but unfortunately, commercial fabric softeners are quite easily the least eco-friendly laundry products out there.
Sophie Barrow has more, 'Depending on the item (because some things really do not need and should not even have softener, like denim!) we don't recommend that you skip the softener, it helps to prolong the lifespan of a high-quality item, just make sure to use a high-quality softener that isn't full of animal fats. Think of softener like a hand cream on your skin, it creates a healthy barrier.'
Many contain palm oil and a whole host of additives, including fillers, that are not biodegradable and that can even be harmful to your health.
The easiest way to cut out fabric softener without your clothes coming out of the wash feeling 'hard', is to use a liquid detergent rather than a powder. Liquid detergents will always be more emollient than powder and are better suited for use in hard water areas.
3. Stop machine washing your swimwear for eco-friendly laundry
Every time you put your swimming costume or bikini through a washing machine cycle, it sheds microplastics.
Swimwear is made from synthetic fibers that should only ever be washed by hand – and will last longer if washed by hand. Use a mild laundry detergent, or even a shampoo to freshen it up in your bathroom sink. Or better still, take Sophie Barrow's advice:
'I recommend buying laundry bags for delicate items you would put through the machine and also for items made from synthetic fibers as it helps to catch these fibers and stops so many from washing into our waterways.'
- Check out our best laundry hacks to make your wash not just brighter but quicker and easier to do
4. Ditch fast fashion for eco-friendly laundry
There are two main problems with very cheap clothing: one is that it's often made from synthetic materials such as polyester that pollute our waterways and oceans with microplastics (see the above point on swimwear); the other is that very cheap clothing is often poorly made which results in it becoming unwearable after only a few washes.
In this eco-friendly laundry tip, we're not saying that you should never buy clothes again (phew), but, opting for fewer quality items that are made from natural materials is always more sustainable, and likely to be cheaper in the long run.
5. Consider reusing your dryer lint for eco-friendly laundry
The lint that collects in your dryer filter can be surprisingly useful: got a container garden? Try lining your garden pots with it to increase moisture levels in the soil, or use it to stuff cushions if you're into crafts.
Got a fireplace? Use your lint as kindling to help get the fire going.
- Know how to clean a washing machine properly to get rid of smells, mold and all the rest
6. Refill eco-friendly laundry detergent to reduce your plastic consumption
With conscious consumerism more important than ever, there are a lot of great zero-waste detergent brands to choose from.
Eco-friendly laundry tip number 6 is: opt to buy laundry detergent without all the packaging from a plastic-free bulk store, make use of the refills most eco-friendly detergent brands offer or go for a concentrated formula, like this one from Method (opens in new tab).