“Green laundry” does not refer to what happens to your whites when you wash them with colors. Or maybe that is only my laundry. We have three people in the house (including myself) whose fave color is some shade of green or aqua. Green laundry actually means eco-friendly washing practices that emphasize biodegradability and less waste. Why is this important? Well it matters what we pour down the pipes and put against our skin and many conventional laundry products are heavy on the toxics. Laundry products are also heavy on the plastic (think huge laundry detergent tubs and bottles) and all of that goes into the waste stream. Plastics are forever you know.
For more natural and green laundry I want to highlight three alternatives…soap nuts, dryer balls, and wash balls. If you’ve never heard of these things, read on – they get the job done and they don’t harm the planet. And for those who suffer from chemical allergies or sensitivities, these natural alternatives are much safer for you.
Soap nuts are the nuts/fruit from the Chinese Soapberry Tree (Sapindus mukorossi), which grows in the mountains of India and Nepal. They may be a new idea for westerners, but these soapy nuts have been used to clean fabrics for generations of local people.
After the seeds are removed from their shells and dried in the sun (they look kinda like huge raisins), the soap nuts are ready to use in your laundry. For modern washing machines, soap nuts come packaged in a cloth bag. You put the nuts into this bag, close it, and toss the bag into your washing machine. They can be used for several more loads before you need to replace them with fresh nuts. And the used nuts can be tossed into your compost pile.
Bonus Tip: You can use the nuts to make liquid laundry soap as well, if you prefer that.
These specially-designed, rubber or wool balls, help dry your laundry and keep static down. They are said to take the place of fabric softener and/or dryer sheets, and to reduce drying time. They help to separate fabrics, keeping them from balling up into a wad in the dryer which lengthens drying time. (If you have ever had to unwind a ball of sheets/blankets in the dryer only to find it still wet in the center, you know how valuable keeping fabric separate in the dryer can be.)
Lots of people prefer dryer balls to regular fabric softeners and dryer sheets because they don’t contain fragrances and chemicals. Reduced drying time saves energy, and fewer chemicals in your laundry make dryer balls part of a green laundry.
Called laundry balls or wash balls, these make use of the cleaning power of water to wash your clothes. Say what? Yep, it works. I am a long time user. The secret is in the design and materials – the clay-based balls are housed in a permeable plastic cover. The balls react with the motion of the washing machine agitator and the water itself to produce an ionization cleaning process.
Wash balls are used instead of liquid or powder laundry detergent, and are said to last anywhere from 60 to 120 loads. Some can be used for much longer though by re-energizing them in sunlight. However, the plastic part Is also supposed to be recyclable.
Ready to try some of these products or have you already done so??