Before I got into eco-friendly cleaning, it seemed to me like a super complicated world, one that only true zealots would venture into.
Eco-friendly cleaning seemed to involve hours a week conjuring up DIY products, or dishing it out some serious cash for expensive “green cleaning” products.
But as much as I resisted, the horrible effects of conventional cleaning products on health and earth were undeniable.
What really pushed me over the edge was learning that cleaning product companies are not required to demonstrate if there are (or are not) any health or environmental risks associated with their products. The EPA must first demonstrate that some risk is likely before they are required to do testing. Thus, the burden of testing has been placed on the EPA.
As a result, only 200 of the 80,000 known chemicals used in industry have been tested for safety. Companies are playing dice with the environment and our health to turn a profit.
I started making the switch, and I was delightfully surprised: eco-friendly cleaning isn’t complicated.
You’ve been tricked
I just thought eco-friendly cleaning was complicated because conventional cleaning is complicated. But it shouldn’t be.
You’re marketed dozens of different products to do every specific cleaning task. Take the washroom for example. You could find at least 5 different products just to tackle a single room.
Are these products all necessary, or are we being oversold cleaning products to turn a profit? COULD IT BE?!
Cleaning should not be a decision-intensive and product-intensive activity. It wasn’t before, and there is no reason it should be today.
This is what cleaning should be like:
- The same cleaning products should do multiple jobs effectively.
- Cleaning products shouldn’t burn your hands or poison our rivers.
- Cleaning products shouldn’t fill your home with toxic fumes.
It takes a bit of mindset shift, but give it a go – you won’t regret it.
Your eco-friendly laundry list in 5 easy products
- White distilled vinegar
- Soap nuts
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Baking soda
- Essential oils (optional but delightful!)
Now for the details…
Did you know that the most energy-intensive part of your laundry routine is machine drying your clothing? Indeed, drying your clothing takes as much energy as operating your fridge, clothes washer and dishwasher combined.
Thus, a truly eco-friendly clothing routine cuts back on machine drying your clothes. Bonus: air drying clothing helps your clothing last longer.
If you live in an apartment in a country with 6 months of winter like me, you’ll have to get a folding clothing rack. It may not be realistic for you to air dry all of your loads of laundry, but experiment with hanging up 1/2 of your load whenever you can. Putting smaller loads in the drying machine cuts down drying time, so definitely hang whatever you can, and especially heavier items, like jeans and knits.
For the clothing that you do machine dry, grab some wool dryer balls. They replace dryer sheets if you put a feel drops of essential oil onto them and cut down drying time.
SOAPNUTS for Laundry detergent
This is going to sounds crazy (crazy awesome) but there is actually this nut that naturally contains compounds that clean clothing – and other things too!
ISN’T THAT NUTS?
They’re called soap nuts.
Soap nuts are an effective and economical way to clean your clothing. The brand that I use (and promote as an affiliate – thanks for your support!), is that of Greener Living products Ltd.
I’ve been using soap nuts for some time now and they are as effective as conventional laundry detergent, with one caveat
Soap nuts do not perfume your laundry. This might be a negative for those of us who like that “fresh laundry” smell. But remember, artificial fragrances are derived chemically, and have been linked to health problems, such as asthma and migraines. Better to stick with essential oils if you want to make your clothes smell nice.
One downside to not having fragrance is that bad smells are not masked. I’ve found that with my super smelly rock climbing clothing, some stink remains.
The solution is just to add around ½ cup (or 1 cup for large loads) of pure white or apple cider vinegar to your rinse cycle every time you wash. If your washing machine has a spot to pour in fabric softener, add it there.
The vinegar is an effective deodorant. Unlike fragrance, which just masks smell, vinegar makes the smells go away. Your laundry may smell slightly vinegary after the wash, but this disappears once the clothing is dried.
Bonus: you can make your clothing smell nice by mixing in 20-30 drops of essential oils to your gallon container of vinegar. Works like a charm.
Otherwise, soap nuts are great. To use them, you just stick the nuts into the little fabric baggies included and dump them into the any type of laundry machine (HE, front loading, hyperspeed, etc.). They are cheap too – a box of them costs $25 and does 150 loads. That’s $0.16 per load. I have no idea how that compares to conventional laundry detergent, but that’s cheap.
Double bonus, you can use them to clean your hair, and other areas of your home.
What are you waiting for, get crackin’ and get yourself some soapnuts.
VINEGAR for fabric softener
Vinegar has a reputation as being a good-for-everything eco-cleaner – and this reputation is well deserved.
Remember that essential-oil and vinegar mix we made to get the very stinky smells out of our laundry? It works as a fabric softener as well!
Use ½ cup for smaller loads, and 1 cup for larger loads. I was given some DoTerra oils as a birthday gift, and that’s what I’m currently using. They are a very nice quality.
You can give them as go with the doTERRA Essential Oils Introductory Kit.
HYDROGEN PEROXIDE for bleach
If you look at the ingredients of many eco-friendly bleach products, you’ll see that their ingredients are just water and hydrogen peroxide.
Case in point, Seventh Generation, a very popular green cleaning product line:
Here’s the DIY version:
- 1 gallon of water
- 2 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide
Boom. This whole thing will cost you less than a couple of bucks, instead of paying $36 dollar for ½ gallon of the Seventh Generation stuff.
Warning: when it comes to eco-friendly bleaching, the best cure is prevention. You’ll need to be adding eco-friendly bleach to every white wash you do to keep them white. Spray the underarms of your clothing with vinegar to prevent sweat stains. If your whites have already become yellow or grey, you’ll have to bust out the chlorine bleach guns.
BAKING SODA for laundry boosters
If you have an extra disgusting load of laundry, add a cup of baking soda to boost the washing power of your soap nuts.
There are obviously more laundry products that exist that you may be using in your laundry routine which were not covered in this article. However, you should at least be convinced that you basic laundry routine can make the eco switch.
Ditch your conventional products and do your first earth-friendly load today!