Zero Waste Laundry

Apart from making change in the kitchen, one of the biggest areas that we were able to go Zero Waste very quickly, was with our laundry. It take a bit of trial and error to find the right solution for every need.

There are many different solution, so I wanted to share with you everything that we learned up to this point. In the beginning I recommend test out some alternatives before committing 100%. You need a solution that will work for you and be sustainable.


Zero waste washing & energy consumption

It’s natural that you energy consumption might increase when going zero waste because you are now working with all cloth products (kitchen towels, napkins, cleaning clothes, etc.) But this doesn’t have to be the case.

  1. Be conscious about when you wash. With the exception of underwear, use clothing items more than once before adding them to your laundry hamper.
  2. Wash in cold water as much as you can and always wash full loads of laundry.
  3. Keep track of which cloth napkins belong to which family member and which go to guests. Soak out stains before throwing them in the washer.
  4. Set a schedule to avoid overwashing. I prefer one load of lights and one load of darks per week, and a bi weekly load of sheets, towels, and cleaning cloths, and a monthly load (or less) for bath rugs, shower curtains, blankets, etc.
  5. Wash reusable “paper” towels by hand to get out grease and line dry.
  6. Line dry as much as you can. In Spain this is the norm. In the winter clothes are dry in 2-3 days, in the summer 0,5 – 1 day. Plan accordingly.


Zero waste laundry detergent

There are many options available to you when you are switching to more sustainable laundry practices. Some produce less waste and others only produce waste in the production process.

Eco detergent

Companies like 7th Generation make eco friendly products that are safer to use for washing. But the packaging is still plastic. If you choose this option, but the largest packaging available to avoid creating excessive waste.

Biokleen offers a more sustainable solution packed in 100% recycled cardboard and newspaper, but with a plastic sleeve on the inside. They say it uses 70% less plastic than traditional detergents.



Bulk detergent

Our current method is buying our detergent in powder form and in bulk. We use an extra large mason jar and bamboo scoop to head to our local bulk cleaning supplies store.

It’s very inexpensive (less than 5€ fills our mason jar and lasts 3 months).

But we have found that it doesn’t get out tough stains as well as traditional detergent. So we are exploring other methods.

Soap nuts

The most natural option would be to try Soap Nuts. They are a natural berry found in the Himalaya’s that have a soap like secretion that can be used over and over for cleaning. The nuts should be placed in a small bag to keep track of them during washing.



Make your own

You can even make your own laundry powder by mixing baking soda and sodium percarbonate, and adding white vinegar to your washing tray for added brightness.

Be sure to look for paper and glass packaging for these.

Opt for the largest packaging you can to avoid waste. You will also need laundry detergent.

Stopping microfiber pollution

You might have read the news that microfibers from our clothes are filling our oceans with harmful pollutants that end up in our food chain. Have a look at this article to go deeper into the subject.

Patagonia is funding a product to create waterless washing machines and in the meantime has create a product called Guppyfriend. It is a full recyclable washing bag that captures microfibers when you do a load of landry.


Zero waste drying

The most sustainable way to dry your clothes after washing it to line dry or use a drying rack. Remember to opt for wooden clothes pegs or pins.

If you absolutely must use your dryer try to limit you use to winter time. And option for wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. As they can be used over and over again.

Other zero waste laundry ideas

  • Limit the amount of dry cleanable clothes in your wardrobe. It will save you time and money, reduce your waste.
  • Minimize your wardrobe to only pieces that you love.
  • Buy high quality fabrics that will hand up better through many washes and reduce waste created by fast fashion.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know how you stay zero waste with your laundry in the comments.

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