Create a Greener Laundry Room Routine

Swapping out your products and routines for more environmentally friendly and less toxic options is easy … but it requires that initial effort of researching and switching things. Sadly, a lot of people get overwhelmed or discouraged before they even begin.

This post is sponsored by GE Appliances, and today I want to break down some simple ways to create a greener laundry routine. These simple changes will take minimal effort and save you money while creating a cleaner, greener home!

When looking for appliances for the BnB, one of the things that I loved about the GE Appliances was that you can monitor the units from your phone and see the status of the load of laundry, which is super convenient when you realize you have a guest coming the next night, ha! You can also pre-load the detergent. That means you aren’t guessing at the amount to use and wasting it, you can add the whole bottle at once and over time the machine will automatically use the right amount, meaning less waste!

Tip 1: Stop buying dryer sheets. 

Did you know that dryer sheets are toxic? I know that may sound crazy to some, but look into it (I could write a whole post about this, but it’s too much for today). The synthetic fragrances used in dryer sheets are not good for our skin, our lungs or the environment. These unnecessary ingredients are linked to asthma, migraines and skin issues.

I know that many people are afraid that if they don’t use dryer sheets that their clothes won’t smell nice or that they will have more static. I can tell you from experience that I haven’t used dryer sheets in years and our laundry smells amazing and static is not an issue.

Replace your dryer sheets with wool balls (or make your own). They scent your laundry naturally and absorb water, making it dry quicker. Add 2-3 balls, each with a few drops of essential oil to each load of laundry. The combination I am currently loving is Fir Needle and Spearmint (you can shop essential oils here). I also sometimes use Fir Needle and Lavender.

If you’re vegan or you want to avoid wool, make your own reusable dryer sheets from cotton or any reusable material.

Tip 2: Buy clean laundry products. 

You don’t need fabric softener. I haven’t used it in years. All I use is Seventh Generation Free & Clear. With a young child in our home, it’s even more important to me to use products that are good for sensitive skin.

There are a lot of brands that market themselves as clean that aren’t. It’s annoying, but it’s true. When you go to the store to buy cleaning products, just flip over the bottle and read the ingredients … if it contains “fragrance” or “perfume,” it’s artificially scented. Avoid these. What’s crazy is that I’ve found synthetic fragrance even in products that say “unscented” on the front label.

I know checking the labels feels like an extra step, but it’s no different than checking the labels on foods you buy. It gets easier over time and you learn more and it helps protect you from false marketing claims. Bottom line: Learning to check labels on cleaning (and beauty and all household) products makes you an empowered consumer. It’s worth the effort!

Tip 3: Make your own cleaning products. 

I love browsing Pinterest for clean recipes! Over a few years, I’ve learned to make my own room sprays, bug sprays, pillow mist, bath oils … if you name it I’ve probably at least tried to make it.

Making products feels silly at first—like this huge extra step. But after you collect the necessary supplies (I have a cabinet in my office full of carrier oils, base soaps and essential oils and use these glass bottles), it saves SO MUCH time and money to just make your own. I make at least one household product every single week. In the past few weeks, I made a sheet spray to sanitize our pillows after we’d been sick, an anti-spider spray, a kid-safe room mist and a nice smelling mist for my clothes as I was cleaning out my closet. It’s super easy and fun!

Tip 4: Use reusable supplies for anything you can. 

From wash cloths to shopping bags, there are so many ways to reduce waste. This is something fairly new to me! Recently, my husband and I started to look for ways to reduce the amount of trash we were creating and once you start to pay attention … it’s kind of everything!

Reuse instead of buying new. Buy used if you can. Try to cut back the number of disposable things you buy, replacing them with things you can use for years to come.

I hope these tips have been helpful to you! I’d love to hear any solutions you’ve found as well. I am definitely a work in progress—still learning all the time.

Thank you so much to GE Appliances for sponsoring this post!

xx – Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.

  • I’ve been using green products for years along with vinegar as a liquid fabric softener. However, I recently bought a Maytag washer and dryer and literally can’t believe how soft my clothes are! I never would have thought a machine would make a difference, but it’s true and I’m thrilled about it!

  • I’ve always tried to buy dye/fragrance free products, and then make my own products with essential oils when I want something scented.

    Also, I think I have that same washer but had no idea you could pre-load detergent! I’ll have to check my manual (which perhaps I should have read when we bought the machine…haha).

    PS Where is that ceiling light from?

  • Can Laura pop in and tell us about her diaper detergent? A lot of “free & clear” detergents aren’t “strong enough” for washing cloth diapers so I’d love to know what she does.

    • Maybe I can help: I use my regular ecological, fragrance and perfume free (since they can irritate babys skin) detergent and add oxygen bleach (I hope that’s the right word, I translated it from German). The oxygen bleach bleaches (haha) but more important disinfects the diapers at 60°C (no idea how much this is in Fahrenheit). I hope this helps.

    • Hey RG,
      The key to washing cloth diapers is using washing powder instead of liquid detergent. Washing powder contains oxygen bleaching (instead of chemical bleaching) which kills all the germs. You can also add oxygen bleaching to your liquid detergnet.

      Best,
      Franzi

  • I tried 2-3 drops of oil on my wool dryer balls but it ended up staining a shirt. Any tips? How do you avoid the oil from spreading? This happened to a friend of mine. Btw, white distilled vinegar is a great fabric softener and no, your clothes won’t smell like vinegar!

    • What oil did you use? One thing you might try is letting the oil soak into the wool a little bit before adding to the dryer, just a minute or two. Sometimes if you throw it in there right after adding I think a lot of the oil can transfer to one item more directly, which isn’t really what you want.

      Honestly I haven’t had trouble with this, so maybe Elsie or Laura may have some more tips. I do kind of wonder if the type of oil makes a difference.

    • Rach, are you using pure essential oils? Sometimes the nicer stuff is cut with an actual oil to keep costs down. If you place a drop of coconut oil and a drop of pure essential oil side by side on a piece of paper, you should see all the oil evaporate effectively, leaving no ring, for the essential oil. It shouldn’t leave a grease type stain. Some oils do a little color to them like Blue Tansy. You would probably want to avoid those for the dryer.

  • I don’t use a fabric softener, and I also don’t use a dryer at all! We can’t fit one where we currently live, and as much as it used to be a pain, it’s great to think all the money we’ve saved on electricity bills, and how much LESS energy we’ve used by air-drying things!

  • Awesome tips! I particularly like the wool balls instead of dryer sheets.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Debs @ tiger-mint.com

  • These tips are so useful, thank you! I’ve been putting off spring cleaning but must get started soon and I want to do it in as green a way as possible. As you say it’s so easy to get overwhelmed and disheartened so these posts are really inspiring. Are you still planning to do a post on your closet and Spring/Summer capsule wardrobe Elsie? I’ve lost enthusiasm for my wardrobe clear-out and could do with some pointers on organisation! xx

  • Thank you for being a voice for the environment! So many brands and companies are very irresponsible when it comes to consumerism and waste, so it’s refreshing to come across an influential entity like yours that advocates for what is right. I’ve been a big fan for years, but I’m especially impressed with all of your green posts lately. Love it.
    Jaclyn xoxox

  • I live in a very dry climate – Colorado – and dryer balls just don’t cut it when it comes to static. If anything, I think they made the static worse! I do limit my use of dryer sheets but with some fabrics I still feel I need them. Any suggestions?

    • Some people use crumpled balls of aluminum like you’d use for baking. It’s supposed to work REALLY well against static. You could use both dryer balls and throw in a couple aluminum balls and see if it does the trick.

  • Thanks for this helpful post, Elsie. I really appreciate how you make these sorts of issues seem approachable as I often feel that overwhelm, but this makes it seem all doable – baby steps. Also, I appreciate your commitment to the environment!

  • Never knew dryer sheets were even a thing! We have a combi washer/dryer machine but I can’t remember the last time we used the dryer function (and I live in Scotland where it rains all the time!) – we hang on the line where possible (drying outside smells AMAZING from the fresh air) or inside on a clothes-airer. Saves money and eco-friendly 🙂

    • Same here, I don’t even know if there is a translation for “dryer sheet” in French ^^’

  • I’d love to hear more about your wardrobe mist! What did you put in it?

  • These are my favorite kinds of posts from you right now! So inspiring. I’m prepping to do a big overhaul soon and create more green recipes. I’d also love to hear more about your wardrobe mist! Also, do you ever use perfume/have you made your own alternative?

  • I love these tips and thank you for the tip for vegans. 🙂 I use dryer balls made from bamboo!

  • Hey Elsie,
    Another hack to cleaner laundry routines is using water softener with your detergnet (If you have hard water in your area). This way you don’t need to use as much detergent and it also prevents your machines from calcify.

    Best,
    Franzi