zero waste laundry

Why Zero Waste Laundry ?

So, why should you change to Zero Waste Laundry.  And, what does that actually mean?

We all know the problem with plastic pollution and the majority of laundry products come packaged in plastic that has to be disposed of.  Also, a lot of commercial laundry detergents aren’t very environmentally friendly and can have a detrimental impact on aquatic life when they get into the water system.

And, not only is it the detergents that you use but it’s also the clothes you are washing.  Did you know that synthetic clothes release billions of mircoplastics, tiny bits of plastic smaller than a millimeter, when washed. These microplastics make their way into oceans and can eventually end up in the food chain.

Now that you know the reasons why you should change, here are my tips for Zero Waste Laundry.

Laundry Detergent

When it comes to laundry detergent there are a few alternatives that you can try.

Here are my suggestions for Zero Waste laundry detergents:

  • Switch to an eco friendly refillable laundry detergent, if you have a refill shop near you
  • Try an eco friendly laundry detergent in a box or bag.  BioD, Ecoleaf and Ecover are good ones to try
  • Try using Soap Nuts, they are 100% natural and very gentle and come plastic free – if you want to use them on a cool wash it may be best to make them into a liquid first.  Just boil a handful of soap nuts in 2 to 3 cups of water, simmer for an hour and then strain.
  • Switch to an Eco Ball
  • Make your own laundry detergent

Home Made Laundry Detergent

You may want to try making your own natural laundry detergent.  If you do here’s my recipe:


  • Empty jar or container
  • 2 cups Washing Soda
  • 1 cup Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 1/2 cup of Soap Flakes (or grated bar of Castile Soap)


Mix together in a large bowl and pour into your container.  It’s that simple !

This recipe works best on a 40 degree heat and use one scoop for a normal load, you can use double if you have some tougher stains to shift. 

And, with any homemade laundry recipe that uses Soap Flakes or grated Castile Soap it’s best to run a load on a really hot wash once a month to ensure there’s no build up of soap.  

Fabric Conditioner

There’s really no need for a fabric conditioner.  If you like the smell of fabric conditioner then you can make up some muslin sachets of dried herbs / flowers such as Rosemary and Lavender  to pop in your drawers or wardrobes.  You can also add a few drops of essential oils to the dried herbs / flowers.

However – you shouldn’t add essential oils to your washing machine or dryer as they are flammable.

If you find that your towels feel a bit scratchy without a fabric conditioner then just add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Stain Remover

When you switch to a gentler more eco friendly laundry detergent you may find that you need a little extra help with tough stains.

A great way to tackle stains is to treat them with a soap / stain removing bar before you pop them in the wash.  Use something like Dr Bronner’s castile soap.

Or, another great way to tackle stains is to use a Natural Bleach, also known as oxygen bleach, in your wash.  It’s a a safe, non-toxic, biodegradable alternative to harsh chlorine bleach. When dissolved in water it releases oxygen which acts as a powerful stain remover and deodoriser. It breaks down harmlessly to oxygen, water and sodium carbonate. It brightens both whites and coloured fabrics and prevents them from yellowing. It’s great at removing organic stains like tea and coffee, fruit juice, food sauces, grass stains, pet stains, blood and red wine.

How to deal with microplastics

As I mentioned above, when you wash synthetic fabrics they shed millions of microplastics which end up in the water ssytem.  As these are so tiny they don’t tend to get filtered out in the water treatment plants and can eventually end up in the Ocean.

Obviously, the best solution is to buy natural clothes with natural fabrics but this isn’t always possible.  Here are some other ways you can help reduce the amount of microplastics entering the water system.

  1. Wash your clothes less and make sure when you do wash them you have a full load.  The fabric gets agitated less when there’s a full load
  2. Use a Guppy Bag to wash your clothes in.  You pop your clothes in the bag before putting them in the washing machine and the guppy bag filters and captures the microplastics before they enter the water system.
  3. Cora Ball, this is designed to do the same thing as the guppy bag by catching the microplastics before they enter the water system.
  4. Make sure your washing machine has a good inbuilt filter and that you clean it regularly. Also, think about purchasing a washing machine lint filter.

Drying your clothes

The best way to dry your clothes is out in the fresh air on a line.  However, that’s not always possible.  If it’s wet outside you could hang your clothes on a clothes horse indoors to dry, make sure the room is well ventilated to stop condensation.

If you have to use a tumble dryer then make sure you use it on a low heat and don’t over dry your clothes.  To make your towels etc feel soft use a wool dryer ball.

I hope this has given you some ideas on how to have a more Zero Waste Laundry routine.

I’d love to hear your tips and recipes so please feel free to share below.

Written by 

Hi, I’m Frankie. This is my blog (Thoroughly Modern Grandma) about blending old fashioned values with modern technology, whilst trying to reduce our waste and be a little kinder to our Planet.

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