The one thing that we all have to do or need to have done by someone else, is laundry.  Doing your laundry can be damaging to the planet, but it does not have to be.  These guidelines will not only be more friendly to the planet but will also save you a couple of welcome rands and cents every month.

Why green your washing?

Soaps, detergents and softeners, once they have done their job, end up in our waterways, affecting our (already strained) fresh water sources. Phosphate additives are one of the main culprits in detergents.  Despite it being a substance that occurs naturally, when it is concentrated in water, it causes explosive algae growth which in turn blocks out sunlight and uses up all available oxygen in the water, killing fish- and plantlife that water needs to stay in balance.

Here are a few basic tips that will save a couple of rands and cents and be kind to the environment:

  • Get out the measuring cups
    Using too much soap will not get your clothes cleaner.  In fact it will leave a soapy residue in the fabric of your clothes making it look dull and it will cost you more.  Often measuring cups included with your detergent are impractical and difficult to read.  A set of baking measuring cups in the laundry will prevent you from using too much washing detergents. 
  • More wash for less soap
    Adding half a cup of bicarbonate of soda to your wash water helps to balance the pH of the water and will help your detergent do a better job.  It is especially helpfull if you have clothes with oil- or fat based stains.  For very soiled clothes, use washing soda or borax (toxic).
  • Go Cold
    According to research up to 90% of the energy required to wash a load of washing in a top loader is used to heat the water. If clothes are not that dirty, a cold cycle might be just as effective in getting the job done.
  • Pre-treat to prevent re-wash
    Pre-treating stains can prevent having to re-wash items, saving on your water- and electricity bill. 
  • Get it softer naturally
    Regular distilled white vinegar is a natural fabric softener and extremely cheap.  Add half a cup to your rinse cycle for naturally softer clothes.
  • Get on-(the)-line
    Line drying is back! From celebrities to ordinary folks are turning back to this traditional form of drying clothes. The advantages of this ultimate green drying technique are multiple, including:

    • Saving electricity and reducing carbon emissions;
    • Giving your washing that fresh, outdoor smell – without having to buy expensive chemicals that claim to do the same;
    • Getting outside and enjoying fresh air;
    • Longer lasting clothes and linens through elimination of drier wear and tear;
    • Note: Clothes that were dried on a line can leave you with crisp and sometimes stiff washing.  If you don’t like the feeling of it, simply add your washing, once dried outside, to the drier for a couple of minutes with 2-3 clean tennis balls to soften it before you fold and pack away.