In my household of 5 active people, there is a laundry load to match! I average a dozen washing cycles a week. And unfortunately, I’m baffled by “clean-fluencers” who have lifted the task of cleaning to the level of art or therapy.
Frankly, I’d much rather be gardening or doing just about anything else.
But lately, I have been conscious of the fact that much of the cleaning I do is actually polluting.
I like to think I am sustainably-minded, but ugh, the laundry can be a be an ironic dirty spot in your household when it comes to keeping things clean.
So I did a bit of research to discover how I can clean up my laundry routine.
Five Steps to a Cleaner Laundry Routine
1. Choose your machine and cycle
I have always favoured front-loading machines for their water efficiency and the fact they use less detergent than top-loading machines.
Most modern washing machines have programmed “eco-cycles” that are shorter and cooler than the longer “heavy” cycles.
Regardless of your machine, you can hack your own eco-cycle by choosing a short wash cycle in cold water. Sorting your washing into lights, darks, delicates and soiled will ensure you can adjust the cycle according to its needs.
Overstuffing your machine is a mistake, as the added weight can cause burn-out in your machine and also prevent clothes from washing and rinsing properly.
2. Treat stains as soon as they happen
I used to use a spray-on treatment that came in a refillable plastic bottle. But I have switched to a stain removing bar of soap that seems to last forever with no loss of stain-busting ability!
As soon as something stains, I spot treat it best I can, then and there. Even if the item waits a few days in the laundry sink before making it into the wash, leaving the stain seems to make it harder to remove.
3. Choose your detergent
According to CHOICE, we are likely overdosing our washes with too much detergent. So, experiment by using half the recommended amount and observe if there is a compromise in cleanliness. I use half the powder recommended and have seen no compromise in wash quality.
As I mentioned earlier, I have a front-loading and have always used a washing powder. Thankfully, there are more grey water safe detergents than ever available on the market. I have tried soap nuts and was not thrilled with the results, despite their eco-cred. Apparently, they work better in top loaders and hot water, but as I mentioned, I wash in cold water.
I always choose un-fragranced washing powder to use with my family. Fragrances can irritate sensitive skin and are an unnecessary ingredient.
4. Quit fabric softeners for white vinegar
I stopped using fabric softer over 10 years ago. My Mum was having problems with her machine, leaving greasy grey streaks on her washing. Even freshly washed linen smelt musty. The washing machine repair guy quickly solved the problem, one he saw every day. Mould had accumulated in the machine, making a meal of the residual slime left behind from fabric softener. It was nasty.
But the solution was simple.
Quit using fabric softener!
He recommended white vinegar in the fabric softener dispensary. The acidified rinse water reacts with any remaining basic detergent residue. No, your clothes do not smell vinegary. The smell evaporates quickly and you are left with fresh clean clothes and a clean washing machine!
If I have a very stinky wash, like socks, I’ll add a few drops of soluble eucalyptus essential oil the vinegar to help disinfect the wash, before drying the load in the sun.
5. Wherever possible, dry your washing on the clothesline
I have a clothes dryer. And as much as it has come to the rescue on more than one occasion, especially when the kids were little, I don’t like to use it. It chews an incredible amount of electricity.
Luckily, I also have a large washing line that gets the full morning sun. Line drying in the sun is fantastic, especially for linens and white items. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation has a sanitising effect on your laundry and will whiten, brighten and freshen for free! This effect is so strong, in the summertime, don’t hang my darks on the clothesline until after midday, otherwise they quickly fade.
The problem with my naturally irradiated washing line is that plastic pegs also quickly deteriorate. So I have recently invested in a bag of these stainless steel pegs, but they are guaranteed not to rust and are supposed to be so resilient, I will be able to bequeath them, you are welcome kids!
I also love line drying because if I hang my clothes right, they often don’t need to be ironed!
In the winter, I have a large clothes airer that lives on my covered outside deck. It’s not pretty, but it gets the cross breezes and the clothes usually dry within a day, even if the weather is wet.
Have you downloaded your free copy of my Guide to Creating Your Home Apothecary yet?
So with a few small tweaks, it is surprisingly easy to clean up my laundry routine! You have a sustainable laundry suggestion you would like to share? I would love to hear it, please leave a comment below.