How To Green Your Laundry Routine

Here at Earth Divas, we’re all about fair trade eco fashion. But many people don’t think about the tail end of their fashion…that is, how to clean their fabulous clothes and bags in an eco-friendly way.

I went into a few ideas a couple of weeks ago, in “How to Green Your Wardrobe“. But, there are some laundry-specific ways we can lesson our impact on the environment, and save some money in the bargain!

Eco-Friendly Laundry…

According to Planet Green, up to 80% of our clothing’s lifecycle impact (how much our clothes will impact the environment over its lifetime) comes from washing and drying. So, our laundry is the best place to reduce our footprint and make our clothes more eco-friendly.

1. Use Natural Detergent

Traditional detergents contain phosphates. These phosphates, once they get out into the watershed, help foster algae blooms which suck oxygen out of lakes and rivers, harming fish and other wildlife.

You can eliminate your contribution to this by using natural detergents that are phosphate-free. I’m currently use the Kirkland Eco-Friendly HE Detergent by Costco. It’s phosphate-free, and a bargain to boot.

2. Use Less Detergent

Have you ever really looked at the measuring cap for your detergent? Most detergents come with measuring caps, at least a 1/2 cup deep. Brands give you a “fill line”, so you can measure out the proper amount of detergent.

But if you use their fill line, you’re using way, WAY more detergent than you really need to. The reason why brands want us to dump 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of detergent into the washer is so that we use more. And then we buy more (which, of course, is good for them!).

It does not take this much detergent to clean our clothes. I use about 3 Tablespoons for a full load. That’s it. And my clothes still get just as clean.

Using less detergent not only saves you money, but it also lessons the amount of detergent that goes into the watershed.

3. Stop Using Dryer Sheets

Many people use dryer sheets to make their clothes smell fresh and clean.

But the truth is that dryer sheets are actually really, really bad for us. Many contain chemicals that the EPA has classified as dangerous. As in, cancer-causing dangerous.

What’s in your dryer sheets? Here’s a list of chemicals, taken directly from, that are often found in brand-name dryer sheets:

ALPHA-TERPHINEOL- Causes CNS disorders and is highly irritating to mucus membranes Aspiration into the lungs can produce pneumonia or even fatal edema. Can also cause excitement, ataxia (loss of muscular coordination), hypothermia, CNS and respiratory depression, and headache. Prevent repeated or prolonged skin contact.
BENZYL ACETATE—Carcinogenic (linked to pancreatic cancer). From vapors: irritating to eyes and respiratory passages, exciting cough. In mice: hyperemia of the lungs. Can be absorbed through the skin causing systemic effects. Also, do not flush to sewer (does this mean its ok for you to put all over your skin if it’s too dangerous to flush down the toilet)?
BENZYL ALCOHOL—Causes CNS disorders.  It is irritating to the upper respiratory tract causing “headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, CNS depression, and death in severe cases due to respiratory failure.”
CAMPHOR—Causes CNS disorders. This product is on EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Symptoms: local irritant and CNS stimulant readily absorbed through body tissues causing irritation of eyes, nose and throat, dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions. Avoid inhalation of vapors.
CHLOROFORM- Toxic. It is an anesthetic and carcinogenic.. It is on EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Avoid contact with eyes, skin, clothing. Do not breathe vapors. Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness. Inhalation can be fatal. Chronic effects of overexposure may include kidney and/or liver damage. Medical conditions generally aggravated by exposure: kidney disorders, liver disorders, heart disorders, skin disorders.

ETHYL ACETATE—Narcotic. This product is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract…may cause headache and narcosis (stupor and may cause anemia with leukocytosis and damage to liver and kidneys. Wash thoroughly after handling.
LIMONENE- Carcinogenic. Prevent its contact with skin or eyes because it is an irritant and sensitizer. Always wash thoroughly after using this material and before eating, drinking, and applying cosmetics. Do not inhale limonene vapor.
LINALOOL- Narcotic. Causes DNS disorder, respiratory disturbances … Attracts bees. In animal tests: ataxic gait, reduced spontaneous motor activity and depression, depressed heart activity development of respiratory disturbances leading to death.
PENTANE—Danger—Harmful if inhaled; extremely flammable. Keep away from heat. Avoid breathing vapor. Inhalation of vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, irritation of respiratory tract and loss of consciousness. Contact can cause eye irritation. Prolonged exposure may cause dermatitis (skin rash).

Yep, many of these incredibly harmful chemicals are lurking in your dryer sheets. When these sheets are heated, these chemicals are applied to your clothes, when are then transferred to your skin.

You can add natural fragrance to your clothes simply by putting herbs like dried lavender and rosemary into a cloth bag, and putting it in the dryer. This is a much safer alternative to dryer sheets!

Last Word…

There  are many ways we can lesson our laundry’s impact on the environment, and make it safer for us. The FDA doesn’t regulate laundry detergents, or dryer sheets, so it’s up to us to make smart choices for ourselves, our families, and our environment.

Do you have any tips for making our laundry more eco friendly? If so, I’d love to hear them!

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One Response to “How To Green Your Laundry Routine”

  1. [...] laundry will never be as fun as sitting in the sunshine having a picnic, we can make it a little more [...]

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