Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grandma’s Laundry - Small Retro Steps for Clean Clothes

My passion for eco-friendly laundry happened by accident. I am allergic to...well it is easier to say what does not give me hives. Years ago I had a battle of the dirty clothes, laundry detergents and dryer sheets were constantly giving me hives no matter which brand I used. I became so frustrated that I abandoned laundry soaps all together for a while and washed my clothes with baking soda. That got rid of the hives but did not leave my clothes with that yummy clean smell and it was not enough for messes that a baby could throw my way. Here is how I clean my clothes using products that leave me hive free, smelling great and with zero residue.

For laundry soap I love Biokleen products. They are so concentrated that you only need a tablespoon of soap for an entire wash cycle. For baby messes I add a scoop of baking soda and run the water on a medium temperature. I have also recently discovered a brand called Nellie’s which sell soap in small squares that last for a few loads. I am still on the fence about that product because I finally found something that does not flare up my allergies but I thought it was worth mentioning because it is the brand that I use for my dryer balls.

White Without Bleach
Bleach, just say no. Bad, bad, bad...get rid of it. There are natural ways to bleach your clothes and clean your home. The combination of baking soda and vinegar naturally whitens and hydrogen peroxide will also work. For washing machines just use your soap as normal but add some baking soda then pour a little vinegar into the bleach drop off for your washer. You can also whiten your clothes by line drying, for more on that see below.

Machine Drying
In the past I used Method dryer sheets because they were closer to nature and did not make me itchy. When I was visiting Eco Carmel a few weeks ago I found Nellie’s Dryerballs. I had heard of dryer balls before but never took the time to research why they are used. These stood out from others I had seen before because they came with lavender oil fragrance sticks which are placed inside one of the balls to give that yummy laundry smell. Here are some reasons to switch to dryerballs. 1) They are reusable which means they are better for our planet then dryer sheets. 2) They reduce the needed drying time saving you money and resources. 3) They naturally soften fabrics. 4) They reduce lint and wrinkles - this was a BIG selling point for me. I really hate wrinkled clothing and sheets but I rarely have time to iron! 5) They last about 5 years and each fragrance stick will last for 10 loads.

Line Drying
The best way for you to dry your clothes is line drying, it is easier on the wallet, leaves your clothes smelling great and naturally takes out stains. The down side is waiting for the sun! For me living in a foggy coastal beach town does not allow for outside line drying. For those of you in a similar location there is a solution. For indoor drying you will need to buy a laundry rack, these usually are more vertical then horizontal and work well for laundry rooms. The only downside is having enough space and heavy fabrics take forever to dry. The upside, other then saving money, is your clothes will last longer and colors will stay brighter.

Small Steps, Big Results
You do not have to have a complete laundry overhaul, small steps have a large impact. You could change just your laundry detergent or add dryer balls or line dry just a few items. You will be surprised how much money these simple steps will save and if you are full of allergies like me you will be hive free!

Online Resources
How to use dryer balls:


  1. Great post! I want to try those dryer balls. Dryer sheets (even the "free" ones) are so chemical laden.

    I work full-time as an eco-fashion designer, and the way people choose to launder their clothing is just as important as the materials that go into the garments themselves in terms of being earth conscious. Thanks for sharing this!


  2. Thanks for the info! I've been contemplating dryer balls for a little while and have had my eye on some wool dryer balls.

  3. Great info! I've always wondered what the big deal was about dryer balls. Lol. I was sold at "Lavender oil sticks!" I looooove lavender and enjoy growing it and cooking with it. Yum!

    We dry the majority of our laundry on a line--not only to save energy, but to keep our clothes from shrinking! There is nothing more obnoxious to a tall person than your pants getting too short from being dried too many times!

    ♥ Bethany

  4. new follower from the friday blog my nellies dryer balls!!

  5. Great tips! I need to do a laundry overhaul and I HATE the smell of bleach; I'm so glad to know regular household items will work just as well!
    gin @ Life as Topher's Mama

  6. i love your blog! hope you can come and visit my blog sometime; or enter my giveaway.  have a good weekend, zsara xo

  7. Hopped over from The Nature Homeschool:) Lookin forward to more of your lovely blog!! Luv it that you teach ASL{{{grin}}} My Momma translates for our church. We taught my Goose basics like food, drink, etc when she was a baby. Even our puppy is being taught voice & sign commands... Which is great, so I don't have to holler across the yard...LOL
    Happy Weekend

  8. Very good information here. Thanks for introducing some green alternatives I've never heard of. I'm a new follower!


  9. Thanks for this post. I'm actually working on going green in our house. I'm your newest follower from yesterday's blog hop.

  10. I absolutely love this post! Over the last year I have become allergic to pretty much everything as well :( so needless to say this is so helpful... I am also from Monterey, and I am super curious exactly where you got the drier balls at in Carmel.

  11. On Mommy's Apron - I got the dryer balls at Eco Carmel, it is on San Carlos near 8th. I can't believe we are in the same town, small world! We should meet for coffee sometime :)