A Minimalist Guide to Green Cleaning: Laundry Edition
Are you wanting to green your cleaning routine, but you're overwhelmed by the amount of information and the number of products claiming to be green?
Don't know where to start?
I've been there. I grew up in a house where my brother, sister and I had chores every week. We had cabinets full of cleaning products. And we used them all. Regularly.
For years, my cleaning regime consisted of layers of chemicals so thick that I had to open windows to air out my apartment or home.
When I decided to simplify my life and my cleaning habits, I found myself taken aback by the startling expanse of advice. I felt like the number of products I would be buying wasn't being cut. And I wanted to figure out a simpler way to clean more with less.
So this post is the first in a series I'm writing about how I converted to a greener and simpler clean!
About five years ago, I started my green clean revolution with laundry because I was noticing that my work-out clothes were starting to get a little stinkier. Since the clothes were still in great shape, I didn't want to buy all new clothes just to sweat and funkify them. I needed to de-funk what I had!
My sister turned me on to Charlie's Soap Laundry Liquid!
The Sutherland family from North Carolina pride themselves on creating a biodegradable product that has no dyes and no scent. If you switch to Charlie's Soap, they do recommend washing rags with two doses of the soap to detox your washing machine. Even then, your clothes may take a few washes before they are free of any previous laundry detergent residue.
Once I got into the cycle of using Charlie's Soap, I could smell the difference in my clothes.
I could smell nothing! And it was great! Even my athletic clothes were fresh again!
When I had to use a laundry room in my last apartment in Denver, I continued to use Charlie's Soap. I'd use two machines and fill those first with towels, sheets, and cleaning cloths. I'm big on not over-filling the washer, so I could easily create two of these loads per week. Then I'd wash my clothes next. The system was not perfect, but I preferred my attempt at residue-free laundry to the alternative use of chemicals.
I just dab on a bit of Charlie's Soap as a pre-treatment. Let the soap sit for an hour or so and then wash away!
If the stain is particularly nasty, then I will pre-treat with vinegar. I rinse to see how much of the stain is removed. Then I decide whether to try vinegar again or pre-treat with a bit of Charlie's Soap.
My bottom line with stain treatment is to just remember to pull that garment out of the wash and let it air dry. So long as the dryer doesn't set the stain, I can always treat it again!
I still use bleach. Unscented. Sparingly. Just for whites.
My Person and I use white towels in the bathroom and kitchen, so keeping them stain-free and attractive is important to us. And we like coffee, so we tend to sop up coffee spills with our lovely white kitchen towels on a fairly regular basis.
While there are alternatives to bleach, I use so little that I don't let this chemical worry me.
Now that being said, I just use bleach for the whites. No mixing bleach with any vinegar since that creates chlorine gas! Mild exposure to chlorine gas is irritating, but higher levels of exposure is deadly.
For static cling?
I stopped using dryer sheets when I discovered wool dryer balls!
These things are amazing! They really do absorb some of the moisture from the wet clothes. I used to dry my clothes for about 50-60 minutes. Now I set the dryer for 40 minutes and oftentimes yank the laundry out before the dryer has finished its cycle.
When I was comparison shopping, I found FrozenTundraFibers on Etsy. Shop owner Leigh makes these eco-friendly wool dryer balls with wool that comes mostly from local farms. I bought a set of three balls a year ago and they're still going strong. For $7, you get a set of three wool balls. A bargain compared to how much I would spend on dryer sheets!
Living in a studio apartment, sometimes the noise generated by the three balls bouncing around in the dryer annoys My Person. I don't notice it. I tend to throw laundry in and move on to cooking, blogging, reading, or playing some World of Warcraft. Activities with various levels of noise themselves. For whatever reason, I don't notice the bouncing sounds.
And that's it. Four products get our laundry clean and soft with a minimum of fuss!
Next Tuesday, I'll be writing about the changes I made in my kitchen to cut back on chemicals there!
Read the other Green Cleaning posts: