7 Ways to Make Your Laundry Routine More Eco-Friendly

You can start incorporating 'em right now.

August 21, 2020
Photo by Mark Weinberg

Our partner Dropps is reinventing cleaning for good, so we're teaming up with them to share totally doable way you can make your laundry routine a bit more green. One of our top tips: Opt for an eco-conscious detergent, like their laundry detergent pods, which are naturally formulated, free of unnecessary chemicals (like chlorine and phosphates), and safe for delicates.

For a lot of people (myself included), more time spent at home this year has also meant more time spent cleaning. All of a sudden, the whole family is eating three meals a day in the kitchen and I’m going through dishwasher detergent pods (like these citrus-scented ones from Dropps) nonstop.

And don’t even get me started on the laundry situation. No matter what I do, as soon as I finish one load, it seems like there’s another waiting to be washed.

After spending too many days standing in front of the washer and dryer, you might find yourself thinking about ways to make your laundry routine both more manageable and a little more gentle on the environment—I know I did. Luckily, there are a number of easy, eco-friendly laundry swaps you can start incorporating right now, while still ensuring your clothes are as clean and soft as ever.

1. Use Cold Water When You Can

When you turn on your washing machine, what are the default settings? On mine, the machine automatically selects a hot water cycle, and to be honest, sometimes I forget to change it.

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Water heating alone often accounts for up to 90 percent of the energy needed to run a cycle, so one of the easiest ways to be more eco-conscious in the laundry room is to opt for cold water. Not only will you save quite a bit of energy, but your electricity bill will likely be lower, as well.

Of course, it isn’t always possible to use cold water: Certain fabrics, such as spandex and nylon, come with recommendations for washing in warm water (when in doubt, follow instructions on the label). Also, in cases where one of your family is sick, a hot water cycle is said to be more effective in killing certain germs and bacteria—just remember to wash their clothes separately and run an empty wash cycle with a disinfectant after.

2. Choose an Eco-Friendly Detergent

A good detergent is key to fresh, clean clothes, but many commercial products contain harsh chemicals. Dyes, chlorine, phosphates, and harsh enzymes (like cellulase) are all common ingredients in laundry detergent, and not only can they be harmful to the environment, they can also irritate sensitive skin and damage your clothes.

So next time you stock up on detergent, consider switching to a more eco-friendly product, like the Dropps Unscented Laundry Detergent Pods. It will still leave your clothes (including delicates) clean and odor-free, but you can feel good knowing there are no unnecessary chemicals in the formula.

3. Air-Dry Your Clothes

Hot summer days are the perfect time to air-dry clothes and linens instead of running your dryer. Retractable clothes lines are surprisingly budget-friendly, and you can set them up between trees, on your deck, or even on a small balcony. This method is much more sustainable, and also leaves your clothes smelling incredibly fresh. Plus, the sun can help bleach out stubborn stains.

Not enough outdoor space? A drying rack can be used to dry clothing indoors—and it’s a must-have for delicate garments.

4. ... Or Invest in Dryer Balls

When you do need to use your dryer, you can cut down its runtime with the help of reusable dryer balls. These unassuming little wool balls help to absorb moisture from your clothes, which means you can put the dryer on a lower heat setting, and they can significantly cut down on overall drying time—not too shabby, right? As an added bonus, they also help soften clothes and reduce wrinkles. Win-win.

5. Only Run Full Loads

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a full-size traditional washing machine uses around 20 gallons of water per load, while an ENERGY STAR-certified washer uses around 14. No matter which type of washer you have, that’s still a lot of water if you’re only washing a few garments.

Inevitably, there will be times when you need certain clothes washed before you have a full load, but as a general rule of thumb, try to only run the washing machine when it’s full. Yes, we’re basically telling you to do less laundry!

For those times when you only need to wash one or two items, there are plenty of gadgets that make hand-washing clothes infinitely easier, from clothes washing wands to portable wash bags.

6. Wash Clothes When They’re Actually Dirty

I know I’m not the only one who’s guilty of washing clothes when they don’t really need it. I’ll wear a pair of jeans to run to the store, then when I get home, toss them in the dirty laundry pile out of habit. In reality, they could easily be worn again.

Washing lightly worn clothes creates more laundry—and more work!—than necessary, so you may want to be a little more conscious of how often you’re cleaning certain items. For instance, the American Cleaning Institute says jeans and pajamas can often be worn three or four times before washing.

When in doubt, check to see if the item smells or has any visible stains. In both cases, sometimes all it needs is a quick steam or a spot-stain removal to keep items fresh between wearing and (eventually) washing.

7. Skip the Chlorine Bleach

Bleach might be most people’s go-to when it comes to removing tough stains, but this harsh chemical isn’t great for the environment. When possible, you may want to consider using alternative methods to treat clothing stains.

There are a slew of products on the market (like the mineral-based, chlorine-free Oxi Booster Pods from Dropps) that are up for the job. Or you can go with something you might already have on hand. For example, lemon juice has natural bleaching power—simply add a cup to a load of white clothing to help keep them bright and reduce dingy underarm spots. And like I mentioned before, you can also hang stained items in direct sunlight to let the sun’s UV rays work their natural bleaching magic.

In partnership with Dropps—makers of convenient cleaning products with a sustainable spin—we're sharing easy swaps for making your laundry routine gentler on the environment. From opting for cold water when you can to choosing an eco-conscious detergent, like their handy laundry detergent pods, these little changes can make a big impact over time.

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Freelance writer, product tester & baking enthusiast.

1 Comment

MAURICE September 16, 2020
Thanks for sharing useful tips