Making simple switches in your laundry routine can have a marked effect on your environmental impact, and with these three strategies it’s never been easier to wash your clothes and come out with a clean conscience, too.

Here are 3 natural laundry practices sure to clean your clothes and clear your (eco) conscience too.

1. Switch out your soap

If you are looking for an inexpensive eco-friendly alternative to store-bought natural detergents, the first step is to look at what you are using to wash your clothing. Natural detergents are great but pricey, and corporate greenwashing makes it increasingly challenging to determine which detergents are really green, and which are just masquerading as such.

Standing on pile of laundry
Image courtesy of Gloria García

Making your own laundry detergent is far easier than it sounds, I’ve used this recipe for years. It is easy, effective, and if you can operate a cheese grater you can do it too!


  • 1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap, grated
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup baking soda (optional)

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Baking soda is an optional additive that serves to soften water and assist with deodorizing clothing. Store the mixed detergent in a lidded container, and use 1-2 Tbsp for each load. This is great for energy-saving cold water washes and appropriate for high-efficiency machines, too.

2. Ditch the softeners & dryer sheets

Wool Dryer Balls - Candy Pop - Set of 4 - Eco Friendly
Wool Dryer Balls

Conventional fabric softeners and dryer sheets both employ a stew of chemical compounds to coat clothes with unnecessary fragrance and additives, and their eco-friendly alternatives are so much simpler. A cup of white vinegar is a fantastic replacement for the liquid fabric softener in your machine’s dispenser or a fabric softener ball.

Natural wool dryer balls are an excellent alternative to dryer sheets. Feeling especially crafty?  Easily make your own using this simple tutorial.

Naturally flame retardant, wool dryer balls fluff clothing and reduce static. Adding a few drops of essential oil to the balls allows you to scent a load of laundry without coating your clothing in perfumed animal fat, like dryer sheets do.

If you find that your laundry is constantly staticky despite adding vinegar and using dryer balls, try shortening your dry time by 5-10 minutes. The most common cause of static is over-drying your clothing, and cutting down dry time is gentler on clothing, and saves energy too.

3. Do without the dryer

Clothes Pegs
Image courtesy of James Lumb

If you want to get really into it, avoid the dryer altogether. It is one of your home’s most inefficient appliances, and a huge energy suck. A clothesline is a truly amazing addition to your backyard, it changes laundry from a boring basement chore to an outdoor activity, and nothing makes laundry smell better! For apartment dwellers or those with inhospitable winters (Hi, fellow Canadians!) a sturdy indoor drying rack gives the same effect when outdoor drying isn’t an option. For those in dry climates it also helps adds a bit of moisture back into the air.

I find that the absolute best eco-friendly shifts are like this: short, sweet, simple, and easy to employ. Creating small, sustainable changes means you are well on your way to an effortlessly green lifestyle.

Laundry day never looked so good!

Feature image courtesy of Kim MyoungSung

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.