Cut Back On Chemicals In Your Laundry Room

Use these handy tricks to get clean clothes without harming your family.

November 2, 2012

Make Life Easier

How you handle business in the laundry room could make or break your health. Dangerous hidden ingredients lurk in common products, but the truth is you don't need them to get your clothing clean!


Related: The Organic Way To Dry Your Clothes

From natural cleaning tricks that will save you big bucks to strange gadgets like Woolzie balls, check out these Best Laundry Room Secrets Ever to clean up your laundry room routine today!

Use Woolzies!

Cross pricey fabric softeners and wasteful dryer sheets off of your grocery store list for good. Woolzies, handmade dryer balls made from New Zealand wool, reduce drying time by 25 percent while softening clothes and reducing static.

A safe alternative to similar dryer balls made from harmful PVC plastic (and better than tossing off-gassing tennis balls into your dryer to keep things fluffy), Woolzies also eliminate the need for chemical-based laundry products that pollute your indoor air quality. The best part? The laundry aid can be used hundreds of times—at least a year's worth of your dirty clothes.; $35.99


Subscribe to Safe Detergent

Never run out of detergent again! Health-conscious mom and actress Jessica Alba's Honest Company line features nontoxic detergent that you can set up on a convenient subscription service that meets your needs. Bundle four other Honest Company products—everything from safe cleaning products to earth-friendly baby products—with your detergent for even bigger monthly savings.; $12.95 for 70 HE loads or $35.95 for monthly bundle of 5 Honest Company products

Use a Measuring Cup

When it comes to laundry detergent, more is not better. Overusing detergent just means you'll wind up buying more, and leaves your clothing looking dingy. Look on your washing machine for what the manufacture recommends as the proper dosage, not the recommendations on the detergent bottle. And get a clear, easy-to-read measuring cup if you're a chronic over-user.


Use your measuring cup for cheap laundry boosters, too. Add a half-cup each of washing soda and borax to your loads for super-cheap, natural whitening, deodorizing, and water softening. Add a half cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle for pennies-a-load fabric softening and static control, and ditch the expensive (and toxic) bottled fabric softeners and dryer sheets.


Air Dry Inside

Keep saving money and dry electricity-free, even when the weather outside doesn't agree. An indoor drying rack—a portable floor or permanent wall model—works particularly well in dry wintertime conditions, and the moisture from your clothing actually helps improve indoor air humidity during dry cooler months.

If you don't have money to spring for a wooden drying rack, just hang washed and well-spun clothing on your shower curtain rod to air-dry.; starting at $59.95


Use Nature Nuts for Stain Lifting

Want a laundry cleaner that's closer to nature? Eco Nuts are the answer. These little organic berries grow in the Himalayas and naturally produce a soap called saponin that penetrates fibers.

Great for people with sensitive skin, these soap nuts don't suds up like detergents with artificial foaming agents, but clean well just the same. Eco Nuts are deseeded and treated with a nontoxic sanitizing treatment before packaging to kill any harmful bacteria that could be lingering on the berries.; $3.99 for 10 loads, $34.95 for 360 loads


Dry in a Tight Space

Adamantly air-drying your clothing can save you nearly $100 a year. If you're cramped for outdoor space, opt for a rotary clothes dryer like this Stewi First Lady Compact model.


Well-made outdoor rotary clothes dryers are rust-resistant and can often handle up to five loads of laundry at a time. Just hang them up, and let the sun and wind do their thing—for free.; $319


Energy Star Washer

When the time comes to shop for a new washing machine, make sure it's Energy Star certified to save on your electric bill for years down the road. Look for washers that allow you to adjust water levels based on load size and those that have fast spin-cycle speeds (faster spins get more water out of your clothes, which means less time and energy in the dryer).

Energy Star doesn't rate dryers because all the models out there use roughly the same amount of energy. But you can find models that use less electricity. For example, look for models with "moisture sensors" that automatically shut off when your clothes are dry. A Whirlpool spokeswoman says pairing one of its high-efficiency dryers with an Energy Star washing machine can reel in $3,300 in energy savings over the life of the products.

No matter what washing machine you use, be sure to wash full loads in cold water to save up to 3,400 gallons of water annually and reduce energy use required to heat up the water.