Ditch and Switch: 7 'Waste Free' Laundry Room Swaps

It’s our job to save the planet. Period. Humans are the ones who got it to the state it’s in and it’s our job to reverse it. For decades we have been worried about convenience. Everything is so simple and can be accomplished with such little effort. What if I told you that reducing your waste footprint could be just as simple? 
“Can’t be done!”
“She’s crazy!” (actual fact)
Reducing your waste doesn’t have to take any more time out of your day. I have made many of these same switches in my life and find myself using no additional effort or time than I was before. Just like I said in my first post (here), most people don’t want to switch to earth friendly products due to cost. Luckily, I’m also a lover of budgeting and going to give you simple switches that won’t break the bank. These 7 easy laundry room switches (and one honorable mention) won’t cost you anymore time, money or effort. They will significantly reduce your footprint and save the environment. My favorite thing about switching to earth friendly products is that most of the time you also switch over to natural products in the process. It’s a win-win!  

Just as with the previous post, I went shopping at Walmart and Amazon. I went for the lowest cost items in both categories (that I could find). The only exception is if I needed a certain brand or size for comparison purposes. All the links to the products I discuss are at the end of this post.

1.       Detergent

When it comes to laundry detergent you’re on one of two sides…..liquid or pods. Some of you may even prefer powder detergent, we won’t judge.  I’m a liquid fan myself, but I’m going to cover all the bases. Whatever team you pull for has the same problem. They all come in plastic containers. Powder detergents are the exception since they mostly come in cardboard boxes. Those can be recycled, so that’s a positive there. The easiest way to combat waste is to make your own detergent. It’s really not that difficult and will save you tons of money in the process. If you’re not a DIY-er, there are still plenty of waste free options available for purchase. Not going to lie, this is going to be the most expensive thing in your laundry room. 
Liquid: A 50 oz bottle of Purex is going to run you about $5.99 at Walmart. For a waste free option, Biokleen detergent was the cheapest I was able to find and it come in at $13.64. It comes in a biodegradable bottle, so you don’t have to feel bad about throwing it out. 
Pods: Great Value’s pods are $6.28 for a 31-count bag. I thought that was an odd number, but whatever. Not sure if y’all have heard of Dropps or not. Yes, it is a subscription based company, but you can find their products on Amazon as well. A 32-count box of pods is $13.00 vs $16.00 on their website.
Alright before moving on, I have one more laundry detergent suggestion. Chestnuts or soap nuts (its actually a berry). Yeah, I really am crazy, right?! Seriously though, chestnuts (specifically horse chestnuts) contain saponins, a soap like chemical compound. ‘Sapo’ in Latin literally means soap. You can use the nuts whole, crushed into a powder or turn it into a liquid detergent. It is WAY less expensive and the ultimate waste free option!  I’m going to give it a try and I will report back.

2.       Dryer Balls

This might be the easiest swap for everyone. A 105-count box of dryer sheets from Walmart is $3.97. A set of 2 wool dryer balls at Walmart is only $4.88. That’s not even a dollar difference. Plus, you don’t have to continuously purchase them. So, in the end, you are saving money with one simple switch. Let’s just say you average 3 loads a week of laundry. That’s 144 loads a year. That’s a minimum of $7.94 in dryer sheets. Let’s all be honest with ourselves, we use more than one sheet per load, so that number can increase. Doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but the volume of sheets is staggering.

3.       Stain remover

A must have for busy families and children. Since most zero waste stain removers are solid form, I went with a solid comparison. A Spray N’ Wash stain stick is $8.50 for a 2-pack at Walmart. Walmart also has Nellie’s Wow Stick. It comes in a cardboard box for only $10.93. For a cheaper option, Amazon sells the Meliora Stain Stick for $7.59. Now, I don’t know how many stains you have. Therefore, I can’t tell you how long each one of these will last. For the DIY-er and ultimate budgeter, you can always make your own stain remover from household products and come out well under $8.50. 

4.       Fabric softener

I personally haven’t used the stuff in years. Not much of a need for it with the products I use. If you take my advice on dryer balls, then you won’t have a need for it either!  However, I know some people just love the extra scent and feel they get from it. A bottle from Walmart costs around $2.97. If you must use it, there really isn’t a store-bought earth friendly alternative. The best method for a liquid fabric softener is to use products like vinegar, baking soda or Epsom salts added to your wash. None of them will make your clothes smell or leave a residue. Its 100% natural, and 100% zero waste! Most people already possess these products in their home, so it is at no additional charge. 

5.       Wash on Cold

Over the years, laundry machines have become more efficient and so have detergents. The common misconception is that the hotter your water is, the cleaner your clothes are. In fact, your clothes get just as clean no matter what temp you wash at. There are a few stains that might require hot water, but that list is minimal. Not to mention you actually harm your clothes when you use hot water. It can even cause shrinking or fading. Even GE Appliances suggests washing in cold water except certain circumstances. Heating your water counts for about 90% of the energy used to run your washer. You’ll find that you can save a TON of money in energy costs simply by switching to cold washing cycles.
Just how much you ask? Well, according to CRMonitor, hot wash and warm rinse costs $0.68 per load. A cold wash and cold rinse costs just $0.04. Doesn’t seem like much until you look at your bill. Annually, washing with hot water costs about $97.92 at 3 loads a week. Switching to cold water costs just $5.76. FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. That’s a difference of $92.16 a year. In 5 years, you would’ve saved yourself almost $500.

6.       Full Loads

Another really easy solution to reduce your environmental impact is making sure you only wash full loads. These new washers can hold a lot more than you might think. Pack ‘em full! No need to waste money and time washing a handful of garments throughout the week. If you can get a larger load and only wash once a week, you can save so much in power costs, detergent costs, energy costs, water costs, etc. It takes the same amount of energy no matter what size your load is, so cram it full! You’re already going to wash your clothes, just ensure every load is full and you won’t have to spend so much time doing it!

7.       Wear It Again

It ain’t dirty if you wore it to church and back. It ain’t dirty if all you did was lay on the couch in it. WEAR IT AGAIN. There is absolutely no need to have a new pair of pajamas every single day when you don’t do anything but dream in them. 90% of people I know shower before bed anyway. IT AIN’T DIRTY. Most things aren’t intended to be washed every use. Jeans for example. They are designed to be worn multiple times before being laundered. Too much laundering can cause your clothes to become thin, cause holes and literally breakdown. Re-wearing an outfit saves you money on laundry and money on a new wardrobe.  

Honorable Mention

Hang it out.
Hanging your clothes out to dry is easier said than done. I hate doing it personally. However, it is a great way to save money and the environment. After the fridge and the washer, the dryer is the third most energy-hungry appliance. Having a drying rack or clothes line save upwards of $100 a year in energy costs. Not to mention it spares the life of your clothes. Lint is literally the threads of your clothes withering away before your eyes. Line drying reduces that.

The laundry room by far is the easiest room to swap, in my opinion. All of the swaps are unbelievably easy to accomplish. You can literally have a completely earth friendly laundry room/routine in no time. So, what is the price tag on being a friend to the earth? Remember that sticking with the original plan requires reoccurring costs. Switching to eco-friendly options require a start-up cost, but reoccurring costs are lower. Here the initial start-up cost is still lower than purchasing the products from the original list!
Detergent(liquid), dryer sheets, stain remover, fabric softener, and hot washes (12 per month)
Original cost: $29.59
Detergent (liquid), dryer balls, stain remover, fabric softener (DIY), cold washes (12 per month)
Eco-friendly: $26.59
Really your eco-friendly costs could be even lower if you choose to partake in a few of the DIY options. They aren’t difficult to master, even if you’re new to the realm of DIY. After the initial start up, your Eco-friendly cost comes down to $21.71. That saves you $7.88 every time you have to restock the laundry room. Not bad!
Like I’ve mentioned before, converting your home to zero waste isn’t inconceivable. It won’t require you to shovel out tons and tons of money on products. It doesn’t require you to uproot your life and adjust to a new routine. It really is just a few simple switches at the store. 
Original List
Eco Friendly List
Softner: DIY (Free) 
Resource Articles