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Greener Laundry Products

by Tiffany in A Green Home

The above picture shows some of the greener laundry products I have been testing lately. Laundry is one of those chores I absolutely despise. I wish green gadgets could change that but they don’t. The only thing they do is make the process a little more planet friendly and that at times seems like a stretch in my opinion. Most “green” laundry detergents come in plastic bottles and that isn’t so green at all. Soap nuts have to travel from around the world and they don’t last long. Lots of laundry aids are most commonly found in plastic… baskets, hangers, etc. The dryer sheets have loads of chemicals. So it seems we often have to get comfortable with whatever we consider to be the lesser of several evils.

The Planet Hugger line of laundry aids are what we typically see in green laundry products. They still come in wasteful plastic bottles but the ingredients are slightly better than conventional laundry products… safer for us and for our water. These particular products, the laundry detergent and the dryer sheets, have plant based surfactants or softening agents and essential oils for fragrance. I liked them well enough but it is hard for me to view any product that requires me to buy dozens of plastic containers as eco friendly.

The hands down winner was the next one I tried and what I refer to as a smart plastic… aka one of those sturdy plastic products that prevents you from having to buy more plastic. In this case it is the SmartKlean Laundry Ball. It is made of plastic but it lasts for one year and takes the place of laundry detergent. And get this.. it really works. I have been using mine for about a month now and it gets the laundry clean and fresh smelling without any added detergent. Even my gym towel and swim suits which have a tendency to get musty smelling in our humid Ohio weather, smell fresh and clean after washing with this laundry ball.

You need to pre-treat anything that is stained, if you actually bother with that.. I must confess that I am too lazy to care much about stains. You also need to be careful not to overfill since the ball needs to be able to move around between the clothes so only 3/4 full. You can also leave it in the washing machine between washes. The ball itself contains 4 types of mineral ceramic pellets that help the surrounding water clean the clothes. It elevates the pH to levels similar to that of detergents and soaps, it increases molecular motion to ensure sterilization, eliminates mold and bacteria, eliminates chloride compounds in the water, and it beats the clothes as it agitates to wash dirt away. Once a month you need to let it sit out in the sun for an hour to regenerate the mineral pellets in the ball. Pretty darn easy!

For reference I have a top loader. We chose not to drop a grand on a fancy front loader and just went with a used Craigslist find instead. Works great in our machine but you can use it with any kind. The price is about $50 w/shipping and you would spend that in only a couple months with detergent bottles. That might even be cheaper than making your own laundry detergent in the long run. There are some cheaper ones by another company on Amazon too. They look almost identical.

Another product I have and have yet to review is the Practecol 4 Line Retractable Clothesline. I plan to have my husband set that up on our back deck soon and put it too work so we can reduce our energy costs for summer.

What I REALLY need is a product that will make our enormous dirty laundry pile (see below) just go away but in the meantime I have been happy to make the job a little easier with some of these green products.

PS this was taken before the kids and I emptied our hampers. It is now 5 times that size! Perhaps the greenest thing to do would be to downsize our wardrobes!

Many thanks to the companies who donated these products to me for review.

  • Kelli Goldin

    I think the SmartKlean ball is an interesting idea.  I definitely wouldn’t be interested in the other.  I agree that it’s very wasteful w/ the plastic, especially considering how few loads can be done with each bottle.  I’m partial to Melaleuca’s MelaPower. We’ve been using it for over 2 years.  I thought the SmartKlean ball might have it beat on price, but I did the math and it looks like it would be very close.  Thanks for the review.  I’ll research it more.

    • Lisakuan

      do MelaPower still win? in price and eco friendly?

  • Deb

    I just purchased a similar ball for the dryer, to replace fabric softener sheets….we’ll see.

  • Mandee Pantier

     What really helped us with our laundry was to keep separate bins next to each other and sort as we take them off.  Then you just dump the bins into the washer and bingo, not sorting.  Still trying to make them magically fold themselves though.

  • Lori Alper

    Uggg-I hate laundry as much as you!  I am intrigued by the SmartKlean Laundry Ball and might have to give it a try. I was shying away because of the plastic, but you made a good point-that it lasts for  a year and takes the place of laundry detergent.  Glad to know it’s working for you. 

  • It’s so important to greenify every aspect of our daily lives that we possibly can. I’m definitely going to have to try that laundry ball. Thanks for the tip!

  • Bakersnine

    Sadly, whenever I have used natural or green laundry products, after a few weeks my family members begin telling me their clothes smell “unfresh” or sour. So I always go back to using the big (and expensive!) name brands from the grocery store. Maybe they’re only covering the ododrs, but at least they do cover them! I would love to try the laundry balls you mentioned, but I’ll admit I’m skeptical. I do use dryer balls, which work great!

  • Tina

    I love reading your blog! You do a wonderful job!! Here my thought on the topic….

    I actually enjoy washing laundry. It’s such a relief to throw them into the machine , push a few buttons and take out beautifully cleaned, fresh smelling laundry. The drying bit is a pain in the winter, but a bliss to hang it up outside in the fresh air and sunshine! Then fold it up directly on a garden table and place it in the basket. The great thing doing it this way is to pick the clothes of each family member off the line , so I don’t have to sort it out after. If in a hurry, I just chuck it in the basket and dump out each family members laundry on their bed. Sorry that this is a lengthy comment. But I just wanted to share my attitude to laundry which took on a totally different focus after living in the Indian Himalayas for years without a washing machine, doing bucket laundry in a squatting position. Then sometimes having to look for my laundry on the hillside, because the monkeys played dress-up with it. Not to mention that when I finally did have a washing machine there were always days(sometimes weeks) of no electricity and water! Sometimes it helps to be thankful for having it easy…and changing our attitude. …

    • LOVE the way you look at things!