6 Ways To Wash Clothes Without Plastic and Harmful Ingredients

plastic free laundry

Doing the laundry is thankfully easier due to modern washing machines. But, we're discovering that the old-fashioned washing methods meant a healthier, minimal plastic laundry that was better for all. 

The marketing strategies of laundry detergent brands, whether they be liquid, powder or detergent sheets, have duped us into thinking that we need all these complicated ingredients to wash our clothes, such as enzymes, optical brighteners, fragrances, and colour protectors.

They also convince us that more detergent means more cleaning power, when in fact the product is often bulked out with unnecessary fillers. 

Or, that we need different detergents for different types of fabrics and stains, or single-use "sheets" made from petroleum-derived plastic.

These claims are mostly exaggerated or false, and are designed to make us buy more products and spend more money. In reality, most of these ingredients are unnecessary or harmful, and we can achieve the same or better results with less detergent or natural alternatives, such as making your own!

Here's five ways to keep your clothes clean with minimal plastic and complex ingredients.

1. Plain old water, agitation and sunshine!

Did you know that most of the cleaning power when washing clothes comes from water and agitation, not from laundry detergents? 

Water is a natural solvent that dissolves and removes dirt, stains, and odours from fabrics. Agitation is the physical movement of the clothes in the washing machine, which helps loosen and rinse away the dirt.

Laundry detergents are mostly unnecessary, containing excessive ingredients that can harm your health and the environment. You only need a small amount of detergent, or sometimes none at all, to get your clothes clean and fresh.

Try using more simple solutions, less detergent, or making your own natural laundry liquid or powder, and see the difference for yourself. You will save money, protect your skin, and reduce your environmental impact.

Drying your clothes in the sunshine or fresh air is the best deodoriser of all. 

2. Soapberries or soap nuts

Organic soapberries - plastic free home - plastic free laundry

How cool are these soapy goodies from nature? Also called soap nuts (although not actually a nut), they are the dried shell of the Sapindus Mukorossi fruit which is very high in saponin. This laundry detergent provided by Mother Nature can also be used as a fabric softener or all-purpose liquid soap.

Soapberries come in 250g, 500g and 1kg bags which gives more than 90, 180 and 365 wash loads respectively. The berries can be reused several times.

These plastic-free gems are grown in Nepal which creates a future for Nepalese people. Soapberries provide a completely plastic free laundry as the container is a calico bag that can be reused. There is almost zero processing and packaging and they are fully compostable. They are also chemical-free, grey water safe and septic safe. What a natural, healthy way to launder your clothes! Shop organic soapberries >

3. Laundry powder packaged without plastic

Our non-toxic laundry powders are based on minerals, salts and castile soap, perfect for sensitive skins, with no harsh chemicals or synthetic ingredients.

palm oil free plastic free laundry powder

Added bonuses include:

  • Vegan friendly
  • Septic safe
  • No animal fats
  • No phosphates
  • 100% biodegradable
  • No fillers, acids or SLS
  • No added enzymes

Choose from Urthly Organics 'No Planet B' or Green Potions Laundry powder.  


4. Use a natural stain remover soap bar

natural stain remover bar

Do you ever get the sneaking suspicion that spraying normal stain remover is just applying toxins to your garments? You would be correct. Anything that has “Danger” or “Poison” on the label means exactly that – it is a dangerous poison not only for humans but for the whole ecosystem once it's washed down the drain. However, there are alternatives that ticks all the planet and health saving boxes. Another great plastic-free laundry solution.


5. Make your own laundry detergent 

Find our recipes here >

As part of making your own, essential oils are great to use as a natural fragrance and disinfectant. Essential oils are concentrated extracts from plants that have various aromatherapeutic and antibacterial properties. You can add a few drops of your favourite essential oils to your homemade laundry liquid or powder, or to the rinse cycle of your washing machine, to give your clothes a pleasant scent and kill germs. Some of the best essential oils for laundry are lavender, lemon, eucalyptus, tea tree, and peppermint.


6. Vinegar as a fabric softener 

Use vinegar as a natural fabric softener and stain remover.

Vinegar is a cheap and eco-friendly alternative to commercial fabric softeners, which often contain harmful chemicals and plastic microfibers.

Vinegar can also help remove odours, brighten colours, and prevent static cling. Just add half a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine, or soak your clothes in a bucket of water with vinegar before washing.

Of course, white vinegar is almost always packaged in a plastic bottle, though you can find some places that do bulk refills.


Are Laundry Sheets and Dishwasher Sheets Eco Friendly? They are made from petroleum plastic.

Switch out plastic pegs

Plastic pegs are really no good for the environment. Not only do they not biodegrade, they can get lost in the grass and leave plastic fragments everywhere. Wildlife, especially birds are attracted to the bright colours and this can be disastrous for their health. Such a simple old-fashioned life hack is to convert to using stainless steel clothes pegs. Stainless steel pegs last a lifetime with good care. You will never have to buy pegs again. Biome sells durable stainless-steel pegs with different grades depending on where you reside and the conditions they will be exposed to. Standard 201 grade are fine if you tend to bring your pegs inside or live nowhere near salt, i.e. the beach. Medium 304 grade slightly more durable and ok to leave on the line in a salt-free area. Marine 316 grade best choice for locations near the ocean and if you want to leave your pegs outside. These pegs are completely zero waste and some sets come in a handy hemp bag, also perfect for the environment. They are designed and made by a small Australian business. Biome has a large range of stainless steel laundry pegs, which you can see here >



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