There are lots of ways to cut down on the impact a cleaning product has on the environment, from using less water in formulations, to cutting back on packaging and, of course, by using biodegradable chemicals rather than the ones that hang around in our waterways for eons. As a consumer, if you’re looking for a laundry detergent that will be gentler on our great green earth, here are some to consider.
We love-love-love Dr. Bronner’s for so many reasons, one of which is very specifically that Dr. Bronner’s is excellent at eliminating very strong or very odd odors in clothing. But it’s also a fantastic earth-friendly detergent for everyday use. And, because it can also be used as a household cleaner in the bathroom and kitchen, switching to Dr. Bronner’s allows you to use fewer products — which means using less plastic packaging, less water and, if you’re a person who buys online, less shipping.
A great way to cut back on water and packaging use is to switch from liquid laundry detergent to powder. When making the move, it’s also worth considering whether you’ll be happy with a scent-free detergent, as free and clear formulas are gentler on the earth since they don’t contain added fragrances and dyes.
If you don’t want to switch away from liquid laundry detergent, but you still would like a more eco-friendly option, the Seventh Generation line of products is a good one to check out. Generally speaking, any free and clear, i.e., fragrance- and dye-free, will be a more eco-friendly choice. And the Seventh Generation detergent is ultra concentrated, so less water is used in its manufacturing.
Soap nuts are weird and fun! They come from the lychee family, so they’re not actually nuts, for those of you with allergies.
(Speaking of allergies! They’re a good choice for people with skin sensitivities.)
Here’s how they work: They come with a small muslin bag, and you’ll put them in the bag (the number used per bag varies from brand to brand, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions for specifics), tie it closed, and toss the bag in the wash. Soap nuts contain a surfactant called saponin that’s released when agitated in water, and they can be reused in multiple washes.
Since cutting back on water usage is a big part of making personal choices that are less impactful to the earth, it’s worth mentioning no-rinse detergents. Soak is the best of the bunch, and if you hand-launder regularly, or even just from time to time, it’s a good investment. Because it’s a no-rinse formula, it requires less water than other detergents when it comes to washing by hand.