Thursday, January 7, 2010

Green: Laundry

Here are some simple steps that I take to green my laundry. I'd love to hear your tips - please share them in the comments section!

1. Vinegar!
I use vinegar as a fabric softener. You can either put it in a downy ball (fill to the line) or you can pour it into the spot for fabric softener in your washer. I put in about 1/2 a cup of vinegar into each load. Don't worry about trying this - my clothes do not smell like vinegar! :-) I buy big containers (for cheap!) at Costco and pour it into a smaller container that I keep in my laundry room - it's much easier to pour from the smaller container.

2. Hang Dry Clothes
Right now I don't hang dry everything but I'm going to make an effort to do so. I currently hang dry almost all of my clothes but machine dry my pajamas, t-shirts and all of N's clothes. I bought this rack at Target to hang dry my clothes. I've had it for over 5 years now and have never stopped using it.

Just this week I made a clothesline to hang dry smaller things like socks. I attached a rope to one wall of my laundry room and then hammered a nail into a wooden beam on the opposite wall.

I stretched the rope across the room and made a loop at the end. This way I can take down the rope when I'm not using it. I used this for the first time last night and it worked great. I had some clothes pins for undershirts and I just hung the socks over the rope. Last night was the first laundry load (first of many!) that I did without using the dryer at all. We can use this clothesline for napkins, dishtowels and rags as well.

As a reminder to hang dry clothes I taped this picture on my dryer.

3. Green detergent
I make sure to buy green laundry detergent - without all of the chemicals in regular detergent. I look for detergent that is phosphate free - this is better for me and for the environment. I am currently using a detergent that I bought from Trader Joe's.

4. Wash in cold water
The only loads I ever wash in hot water are towels, cloth napkins, sheets and rags. I wash everything else in cold. This means that less energy (and money) is spent heating water.

5. Wash on "quick load"
With my washer I can do either a quick load or a regular load. Unless I'm washing a really dirty load, I wash my clothes on "quick load". This has less rinse cycles so it uses less water.

6. No dryer sheets
Dryer sheets are loaded with chemicals that are bad for both you and the environment. Another option is to use dryer balls - you can buy them at most stores (Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc.). There is debate as to the use of the plastics in dryer balls (see here) so another option is wool dryer balls. There are many people that sell these on


  1. i have heard of people using balls of tin foil in the dryer to stop static cling but have never tried it.

  2. Great post and great ideas! I like making my own laundry detergent. It's really easy and you probably have most (or maybe even all) of what you need in the house. If you're ever in a pinch just throw some baking soda, Oxygen Cleaner (like OxyClean) or washing soda, and borax in. I'd use a few tablespoons of each depending on load size. You can still do the vinegar in the rinse cycle.

  3. We LOVE our Wool dryer balls! I tried the tin foil balls only to have them shard and break apart after the first week 9all over the clothing and still can find pieces!). I tried the raveled up wool dryer balls only to have them unravel after 3 weeks use. We then bought our over a year ago from a mom at and they are still going strong! She does not make them raveled so no worries! Saving us money by cutting drying time and softening the laundry without softeners (havent bought a single softener in over a year!) Awesome post!

  4. Nice blog. I'm a fellow crafty nestie. I am going to switch over to homemade pwder detergent when our Tide supply runs out. And thanks for the reminder about washing a load on quick load. Good idea.

  5. I like the vinegar idea! I made my friend a set of wool dryer balls for Christmas because she didn't want to use dryer sheets on her baby's cloth diapers. They work great!



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