How To Make Your Laundry Routine More Eco-Friendly

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If you want to improve the health of your household and the planet, avoiding hazardous substances in laundry detergent is essential.

The majority of laundry products you see on the supermarket shelves contain a chemical concoction of potential harm. Chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (Nonoxynol, NPEs) are known to cause harm to eyes, skin, lungs and other internal organs. 

After discovering studies of top-selling laundry and air-freshening products that found that they emitted dozens of toxic and hazardous chemicals (which weren’t listed on the label!), I switched my laundry routine to be greener. Here’s how you can do the same…

Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent

Forget big bottles of bright blue liquid and make the switch to laundry detergent sheets.

Space-saving and eco-friendly, laundry detergent sheets are plant-based, biodegradable and contain no brighteners or dyes. They also have natural fragrance (or are fragrance-free) from essential oils and plant extracts, which means it doesn’t have any of the unknown chemicals that make up standard detergents. To use them, you simply add a sheet to a laundry load and wash as normal.

Fabric Softener

If you look at fabric softener adverts, you see images of babies, bunnies and other soft, delicate things. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets are not required by law to list all their ingredients on the label, so here’s a list of what you could find:

  • Chloroform
  • A-Terpineol
  • Benzyl Alcohol
  • Benzyl Acetate
  • Ethanol
  • Pentane
  • Ethyl Acetate
  • Linalool
  • Phthalates
  • Limonene

Together these chemicals can cause a host of health problems, including respiratory illnesses, central nervous system problems, eye irritation, dizziness, headaches and nausea. Several of these ingredients are on the EPA’s hazardous waste list.

So, when you take a long sniff of your fresh laundry, you are probably inhaling a cocktail of toxic chemicals, not to mention what is being absorbed through your and your family’s skin when wearing clothes washed with the softener.

Swap your chemical-filled plastic bottles for this greener and cheaper alternative – white vinegar! Vinegar is mildly acidic and this acid helps to soften fabric fibres as well as remove odours and prevent that musty smell from mildew-y washing machines. The vinegar also helps remove any detergent and dirt that is clinging to the fabric.

Add a drop of essential oil to white vinegar for a natural toxic-free scent boost!

Tumble Dryer Sheets

Whether you use a tumble dryer, drying rack or washing line, there’s an eco-friendly way of drying your clothes.

If you’re choosing to dry outdoors, forget plastic pegs and make the switch to sustainable wooden pegs. They’re sturdier than flimsy plastic!

Obviously, air drying outdoors is the most eco-friendly option, but we are not always blessed with the best weather to do so. To reduce your tumble dryer impact, add some wool balls to the dryer drum. Available in most shops and supermarkets, wool balls will reduce drying time and reduce wrinkles on your clothes – less ironing, yay! Using wool balls mean you can also use a lower drying temperature which will help maintain the quality of your garments.

I add a drop of a few essential oils on my wool dryer balls for extra scent! Much better than dryer sheets. Those little sheets can contain volatile organic compounds like Butane and Acetaldehyde, which can cause respiratory irritation. They also contain Quaternary Ammonium compounds, some of which are linked to conditions such as asthma.

Eliminating dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners with damaging elements from your home will contribute towards effectively improving your indoor air quality. Isn’t it time we said NO to harsh chemicals and YES to natural, safe cleaners – for our health, wallets and planet?

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