Green your laundry routine

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laudryThis week’s “Change the World Wednesday” challenge has us in the laundry room where it’s time to green our cleaning routine.

Although I try to be as green as possible when it comes to cleaning clothes, and as you know, I’m a great fan of Ecover products, I do have a few challenges.

The main one is that we have hard water which means that sadly, soap nuts and eco balls don’t work for me.

Reduce footprints has asked is to take part in one or all of the following Eco-friendly laundry practices:

  • Wash in cold water only
  • Use “Green” laundry soap (consider making your own)
  • Use vinegar in the rinse rather than using dryer sheets

Wash in cold water

I have tried the ‘wash in cold water’ routine before and it was alarmingly bad. Items came out of the washing machine dirtier than when they went in. It was as if the dirt came out of the fabrics, dispersed into the water and distributed itself around every other item in there.

As we are a ‘hands on’ and practical family, rather than one that can pop things in a ‘freshen up’ wash then maybe this is the problem. Running a wood burner, gardening, cooking from scratch and having a child who likes to climb trees means our clothes get pretty dirty and cold washing is not for us.

Green laundry soap

I use Ecover’s concentrated laundry liquid. I’ve tried their powder and concentrated powder, but it’s their laundry liquids that work best for me. One thing I have not done much of is making my own laundry gloop. I think I have all the ingredients here so I’ll give this a go.

Laundry gloop Recipe

Here’s the recipe for laundry gloop which is a popular alternative to conventional detergent.

You will need:
A large pan
4 litres (7 pt) water
1 bar unscented pure soap (castile is good)
1/2 cup (120 gms ) soda crystals
A large 4-litre (7-pt) tub, with a good fitting lid (or a few smaller tubs)


Put the water in the pan and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile grate the soap.
When the water has boiled, add the soap and turn down the heat. Stir until all the soap has dissolved.
Remove from the heat and add the soda crystals, stirring until they have dissolved.
Allow to cool, then decant into your tub(s).
Use about half a teacup for each load.

Note: to avoid potential problems with machine blockages, put the gloop directly into the drum, not the drawer. If the gloop sets hard, chop it into small pieces so that it melts more easily.
Adding ½ cup (110 mls) of distilled white vinegar to the final rinse will also help reduce any soap build-up.

Vinegar rinse

Vinegar rinses is something that I do use successfully. It slightly softens clothes (and think it would do a great job in a soft water area) and surprisingly the clothes smell clean and fresh without a hint of vinegar.

White vinegar is a great ingredient for the natural cleaning kit. It cleans windows, glass and mirrors effortlessly and is excellent for cleaning soap scum and limescale from around sinks and taps.

So for me I will have a go at making my own laundry gloop. How could you green up your laundry? One of the biggest changes you could make to the overall environmental impact of washing is to turn off the tumble dryer and line dry instead …


  1. Small Footprints on January 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Hm … it’s interesting that cold water doesn’t work. I’m guessing that it has to do with the “hard” water in your area. But maybe it’s the soap … I wonder if your homemade gloop (love that word) will work better?

    I would love to line dry my clothes but, unfortunately, our apartment complex doesn’t offer clothes lines and won’t allow us to rig anything up on our patios. I’ve considered those racks which would fit nicely into our spare bathroom’s tub but since I only do full loads of clothes, one rack wouldn’t do it. So, I use a dryer … but I do try to make that as efficient as possible by scheduling my laundry such that one load goes into the dryer immediately after the first one is done. That keeps the dryer from having to “heat up” and actually saves quite a lot of energy.

    Great post, Mrs. Green! 🙂

  2. the Sleep Shop on January 19, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Glad to find a recipe for laundry soap. We’re lucky here in NV; lost of sunny days so we can hang our laundry outside. What a great way to kill bacteria and odors.

  3. Cinella on January 19, 2011 at 11:55 am

    We have hard water here in Texas and what I do when we wash in cold is not to fill the tub with clothes so that it can swish more and get everything out. I will sometimes do a double rinse.
    I have yet to make my own soap… I will definitely try it out!
    And again being in Texas and this heat, we line dry like 85% of the time!
    CJR @ The Mommy Blog

  4. Mrs Green on January 22, 2011 at 9:34 am

    @Small Footprints: I think it’s the water because I’ve tried it with other soaps and it’s nobetter. I’m sure if I used a toxic brand it would be fine, but I’m not prepared to do that. I never realised you had restrictions with line drying – the smell of freshly dried sheets is one of my pleasures in life!

    @the Sleep Shop: Hope you find the recipe helpful

    @Cinella: I’ll try your suggestion about putting in less clothes – thanks Cinella 🙂

  5. Heather Bolden on January 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I love Tots Bots potion. I originally started using it for washable nappies. It cleans amazingly, is eco and sanatizes laundry at 30oc. I still use it now on all our towels and bedding. It’s great to wash at 30 and know that everything is sanatised but also stain free.

    We sell potion on our website.

    I also love oko magnetic balls. Lincolnshire is a really hard water area. I didn’t know if they would work but they have made a big difference to the amount of softener needed in the machine. I also have one in my dishwasher.

    I’m still looking for something eco that will do the laundry for me!

    Heather x

  6. Mrs Green on January 24, 2011 at 9:10 am

    @Heather Bolden: Hello Heather, thanks for telling us about the tots bots potion and your website – sounds great! I’ve sceptical about the magnetic balls; do you want to send me some to review on the site? 🙂

  7. CTWW - Eco-Cooking | Mommy Blogs @ JustMommies on January 24, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    […] Green wrote this POST about what does and doesn’t work for her. Cold water washing doesn’t get her clothes […]

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