Eco-friendly laundry tips20:39
After a long break I’m back for good with lots of new post ideas. I would like to start the new post series about eco-friendly housekeeping with my top tips for green laundry. Honestly said, doing laundry is one of my least favourite activities. In my opinion, it’s a time-consuming never-ending process. What's more, it’s usually expensive and damaging to the environment. Unfortunately, the following tips won’t necessarily help you to save the time spent on washing, but definitely will allow you to reduce your spendings on laundry detergents and your environmental impact. Additionally, your clothes will smell like lavender field (or like anything you want).
My eco-laundry essentials:
- soap nuts - they contain saponin, a natural detergent. They absorb water and release the saponins which circulate as a natural surfactant in the wash water, freeing dirt, grime, and oils from clothing. Soap nuts are also hypoallergenic, fragrance free and very affordable. 1 kg of soap nuts lasts for about 6 months (4-5 washes per week) and costs about 8 €. Instruction: put 4-6 soap nuts in a muslin bag, tie the bag securely, place in washer and wash as usual. After washing, remove bag and let dry. The soap nuts can be reused up to four times.
- organic marseille soap – especially useful if you want to get rid of collar stains. Instruction: just damp the collars (or dirty shirt cuffs) with water, dip the bar of soap in water and rub it on the stain, rub the collar together, and wash the shirt like normal. Marseille soap works also really well as basic stain remover (in this case treat the stain directly). You can also use it to wash your clothes by hand.
- oxygen bleach powder- It’s the common term for sodium percarbonate, a compound of natural soda crystals and hydrogen peroxide. When it comes in contact with water, a chemical reaction occurs and the substance releases oxygen (the only by-product is soda ash – a non-toxic substance which is safe for the water supply). Oxygen bleach is safe for use on almost all washable white and colour fabrics and doesn’t break down the fibers in fabrics like chlorine bleach does. I always add oxygen bleach powder while washing my white cotton bedclothes, towels and shirts. Instruction: To get rid of organic stains on clothing or to brighten the laundry, just add about two tablespoons of oxygen bleach powder in to the detergent compartment of your washing mashine. Remember that oxygen bleach works better in hot water (at least 50°C). Another stain removal technique is pre-soaking in solution of oxygen bleach and water (preferably overnight). It’s really effective method when it comes to washing dirty kitchen clothes.
- essential oils – add about 15 drops to every load of laundry to naturally freshen your clothes. My favourite fragrances are lavender, eucalyptus and pine.
The carbon footprint of a load of laundry
I don’t think I have to tell you, that you should air dry your clothes. It’s kind of obvious in Europe, where tumble driers are not so popular. However, you should be aware of the amount of CO2e, that washing clothes adds to your carbon footprint. Think about it before you turn on the temperature- you can easily save 100g of CO2e per wash:
0.6 kg CO2e washed at 30°C, dried on the line
0.7 kg CO2e washed at 40°C, dried on the line
2.4 kg CO2e washed at 40°C, tumble-dried in a vented dryer
3.3 kg CO2e washed at 60°C, dried in a combined washer-dryer
Keep in mind that soap nuts, for example, work really well already at 30°C. The exception is the oxygen bleach, which works better in hot water (at least 50°C). I personally wash my dark clothes at 30°C, light clothes at 40°C, white cotton bed clothes and towels at 60°C and dirty kitchen cloths at 90°C.
Ironing and mothproofing
I’m definitely not an ironing expert, but I wanted to share one very useful ironing hack which will help you to release wrinkles from clothing. Before ironing llightly spray your clothing, and then hang it for a few minutes. It’s really helpful when it comes to ironing cotton shirts. Another useful tip: add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to your spray bottle (there’s no need to buy the commercial ironing water).
In order to prevent your clothes from moths just suspend in your closet small cotton bags filled with dried lavender. You can also tuck them in your drawers. Additional advantage: lavender bags will also leave a pleasant scent behind.