Cleaning up your laundry routine is one of the easiest ways to transition single-use plastics out of your life. While there are so many laundry-related products out there on the market, there are also plenty of natural, tried-and-true methods for upping your laundry game. There’s no need for micro-plastic scent boosters, artificial fabric softeners or dryer sheets.
Breaking Up With Plastic? Try These Tips in the Laundry Room
Here are a few of our favourite swaps to help you un-plastic your laundry room:
Swap #1: Bulky Liquid Laundry Detergent for Refillable Liquid or Powder
Liquid laundry detergent bottles are a source of plastic waste that can be easily avoided. If you can find a local refillery, bulk laundry detergent is a great alternative. You can also save on waste by buying a concentrated detergent if you like liquid — by doing so, you’ll know that you’ve saved unnecessary water weight from being shipped.
If you live in Calgary, you can avoid a trip into the store by ordering online through our Mobile Refillery. Mike will deliver your laundry liquid straight to your front door!
- Sapadilla Concentrated Laundry Liquid (available through our Mobile Refillery in Calgary only -- click here to sign up)
- Re:Fresh Laundry Soda by All Things Jill
- Nellie’s Washing Soda (available through our Mobile Refillery in Calgary only -- click here to sign up)
Swap #2: Hard Water for Soda Ash/Washing Soda
Hard water can make your laundry detergent less effective, as well as leave residue on clothes. To check the hardness of your water, fill a clean bottle 1/2 way full and add a small amount of liquid Castile soap. Then shake your bottle. If you don’t have any fluffy bubbles and the water appears cloudy, your water is hard.
To combat water hardness, try adding a tablespoon of soda ash to each load of laundry. It has a very basic pH of 11 to help soften water. It can also penetrate deep stains and remove grime and soap residue from the laundry machine.
- Bulk soda ash (available through our Mobile Refillery in Calgary only -- click here to sign up)
Swap #3: Dryer Sheets for Dryer Balls
Dryer sheets are:
a) single use
b) usually made of polyester
c) not vegan (many brands contain beef tallow)
d) chock full of artificial fragrance
e) all of the above
Yes, that’s right, the answer is All of the Above. Do you need any more reasons to ditch the dryer sheets?
While the best alternative — wool dryer balls — are also not vegan, they are certainly much more sustainable (for the animals, too!). These pretty wool dryer balls from The General Bean are made by hand with 100% Albertan Premium Wool.
They’re so soft and colourful and can be added to your dryer to reduce static cling and dry your clothes more efficiently. If you’re addicted to sweet-smelling dryer sheets, you can scent your wool dryer balls with essential oils! Just add a few drops to each ball and toss it into your dryer for a boost of scent. I love using lavender or the Squeaky Clean synergy for its blend of antimicrobial citrus oils.
Bonus tip: these dryer balls are beloved by cats! Rub in some fresh or dried catnip to make a fun toy for your feline friend.
Swap #4: Bleach for Oxygen Brightener
While bleach may be the practical option for some things, it’s not the safest — for your kids, for the environment, or even for your coloured or black textiles. When you want your whites really white, try oxygen brightener instead! The zero waste bonus is that you can find oxygen brightener at a lot of refilleries (including ours), which means no waste. You can also make your own, though it still involves hydrogen peroxide in a plastic bottle (and you may have noticed that peroxide is hard to find these days!).
The laundry bonus is that oxygen brightener (or at the least the one we sell, Nellie’s Oxygen Brightener — you’ll want to check your brand for yourself to be sure) is colour safe. In fact, it’s colour boosting!
Swap #5: Stain Remover for Stain Remover Stick
Forget about the plastic bottles of stain remover and make the move to something that really works — and is package-free! Stain remover sticks tend to be all-natural, work amazingly well, and involve either very little (paper/cardboard) packaging, or no packaging at all.
To use, simply wet the stain; rub stain stick on stain; let sit at least a few minutes; and launder as usual. Our unpackaged stain stick includes lemon oil which means it not only removes stains like you wouldn’t believe, it also cleans sinks, shoes, stovetops, ovens, dishes with cooked-on food… the sky’s the limit!
Have a load of laundry with stubborn, ground in dirt (think your kids’ winter wear; old sheets; work clothes; or armpit stains)? Grate some of the stain stick directly into very hot water before running the load as usual. You won’t believe the results!