10 ways to reduce laundry waste

I have never understood laundry rooms in Home and Lifestyle type magazines that look like sterile castles; I don’t spend enough time doing laundry to make my laundry room look nicer than my living room.  But that’s not the point.  The point is laundry; our (over)washing of clothes and other fabrics that is our never-ending chore, where a surprising amount of waste happens.  Here are some ways to reduce waste in the laundry room, whatever it may look like:

  1. Detergent: visit any grocery store and the detergent aisle is stock-full of plastics; plastic tubes, tubs, and even the cardboard boxes come with plastic handles and plastic measuring cups (seriously, Tide, how many measuring cups do you think we need?!).  Here are some alternatives: soap nuts can be composted once used up and purchased at Bulk Barn or Fullfill; refill your liquid detergent at Fullfill; use MyDizolve laundry strips that are purchased online, come in a cardboard envelope, and support the Sierra foundation; make your own with ingredients purchased at Bulk Barn, Nutter’s, or Fullfill.
  2. Dryer balls: a compostable alternative to single-use dryer sheets that are wasteful, and often stinky, and made of… what are they even made of?!  Dryer balls are made of wool and get the job done.
  3. Wash less: our clothing truly does not need to be washed as often as most households wash it; it is hard on the fibers, and releases more fibers into the water every time you wash it.  If you haven’t sweat a gross amount, or rolled around or worked in dirt and dust, just shelve your clothes and wear them again.  It’s OK!  You are NOT icky!
  4. Line-dry: save energy costs and use a drying rack, or a line outside.  Hanging clothes outside significantly reduces your household’s energy use.  It also preserves your clothes, as dryers are quite harsh environments for fibers.
  5. Dryer and washer settings: using cooler temperatures to wash your clothes is easier on the fibers, as well as your energy bill.  There are often “Eco-Boost” (or similar wording) settings, that are more energy-saving, and some washers and dryers have an “efficiency meter” that shows you the best setting.  If clothes aren’t heavily soiled, cool or cold water will clean them just as well.
  6. Load size: when doing laundry, conserve water and energy (and time) by washing a full load.
  7. Spot-clean: you do not need to throw your shirt or pants in the wash just because you got one spaghetti sauce stain.  You can easily spot-clean that stain out either with a hot or cold wet rag (depending on the stain) set on top, or with a laundry bar.  I have even spot-cleaned grease stains out with baking soda and dish soap.
  8. Lint: you can compost the lint from your dryer trap thing.  Though I would make sure that the fibers are natural fibers; if your clothes are made of polyester fibers, I would be concerned that the lint trap captures synthetic fibers, which is not what you want floating around in your compost pile.
  9. Natural fibers: a huge water pollutant is the synthetic microfibers that are released from our clothes every time we wash a load of laundry.  These are pollutants to our water systems, and are nearly impossible to filter out even with newer machines.  Choose clothing made of natural fibers and avoid synthetics like polyester, nylon, acrylic, etc.  There are also “microfiber catching laundry balls” that can be tossed in with your load that will capture some of the fibers; be aware that this is not the best solution, as it certainly will not capture all of the fibers.  Read this article for more information about plastic microfiber pollution.
  10. Bleach: as well as super fast drying power, the sun serves as a natural bleach.  Have you ever tried this?!  I lay my cloth diaper covers in a sunny spot for several hours, and any stains are gone!  I also use this to brighten my whites because I will not use bleach.  There is also a method using hot water, lemons, and hydrogen peroxide, but it was too much effort for me… so I went solar.

What does your household laundry regime look like?  Have you tried any of the above, or have other tried-and-true methods that are less wasteful and energy/cost effective?

In love and compost,




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