Plastic Free Laundry Routine

How many toxic chemicals packaged in plastic do you need to do your laundry? Maybe 4, 5? How about none?

When we were younger and lived in Mexico, my mom used to wash our clothes in a lavandero outside of our home with a very popular Mexican soap called Zote. We were a family of four at the time, and she would wash all of our clothes by hand!

I’m lazy about washing my clothes with a machine, so props to my mom for all the work she put in to keep our clothes clean back in the day.

When we started our lives in the US, we went from using Zote, to the cheapest conventional soap out there.

As it turns out, they weren’t really made of eco-friendly ingredients. I grew using conventional laundry detergent, which influenced me to continue buying the same things through adulthood. Why question it?

I’m glad I did!

Cleaning your clothes in a eco friendly and plastic free way isn’t as hard as some of you may think. It’s actually pretty simple and effective, and doesn’t require Zote or a lavandero.

Not only is it more cost effective to clean your clothes without conventional laundry detergents, but it also helps keep hazardous chemicals from polluting our water.

In this article, I will provide you will all the tips needed to successfully do your laundry in a plastic-free low-cost way!

Washing Clothes

There are two different ways I wash my clothes; One is a DIY recipe that requires 10 minutes to make and the other is a ready-to-use option! I know some of you dread DIY’s or feel like you just don’t have to time for that so I wanted to include both options.

I myself sometimes don’t feel inspired to make my laundry detergent (even though it’s super easy), which is why I have a backup option.

Either one works great, using both just fits my lifestyle better.

DIY Laundry Detergent

Shredding soap for DIY easy laundry detergent

I’ve been using this recipe since last October and it works really good! Like really good. The original recipe is from wasteland rebel blog, but I made some adjustments with the amount of castile soap I use.

What you’ll need:

*Dr. Bronner’s soap is a lot more pricey than Kirk’s, so if you’re in a budget Kirk’s is the best option.


  1. Shred 1 bar of castile soap
  2. Blend all your ingredients in a food processor for a minute or so
  3. Store in a container of your choice. I used a mason jar.
  4. Use 1-2 tbsp per load.

Soap Nuts

When I first heard about nuts that were capable of cleaning your clothes, I couldn’t believe it, but is true and they actually work very well.

They’re literally just nuts that grow in nature and are dried before making their way to your life! That’s it. Once you’re done with them (which usually takes about 10 loads) you can add them to your compost bin.

You simply place around 5 soap nuts in the bag provided in your washer, and the rest is history.

Extra: Rinse Cycle

Using half a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle is great for getting rid of smells from synthetic fabrics (like polyester).

White vinegar can also be used as a natural fabric softener.

Optional: Essential Oils

I personally don’t use any essential oils when I wash my clothes, but if you’re someone that like a nice scent behind clean clothes, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oils in each load.

Another option would be to add essential oils when drying your clothes instead. I’ll explain a little more about that later

The Dryer

Dryer balls from a farm sanctuary
Wool Ball From Safe Harbor Wool Work

I’ve never in my life purchased dryer sheet and I’m honestly still confused about the purpose behind them.

I did google it, and it turns out they use “special technology to make your clothes soft and static-free”. An especially wasteful, single-use technology apparently.

Wool Balls

Wool balls are a great addition to your dryer! They can:

  • Reduce drying time by up to 30%
  • Make your clothes softer
  • Add scent to your clean clothes

Simply place around 3 wool balls in the dryer within each load.

Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a wool ball if you’d like your clothes to smell a certain way.

*Source your wool/wool balls from responsible & humane farmers. Shopping for organic wool or upcycled wool are two of the best options. Read more about animal cruelty from conventional wool here.

If you’d like to purchase some wool balls, there’s a great store on Etsy called Safe Harbor Wool Works. The lady that runs the store makes the wool balls from the sheep in her animal sanctuary and all the earnings go to the animals and the farm. I follow her on Facebook and they’re always rescuing animals in need.

Aluminum Ball

To remove static from your clothes, grab some aluminum foil and make it into a tennis size ball. Place in the dryer with your clothes when needed.

I just recently learned this trick from a coworker!

With so many different ways of doing your laundry in an eco-friendly and low waste way, choose what works best for your lifestyle.

I’ve tried getting my laundry detergent from a zero waste store before, but it takes me 30 minutes to drive there and it’s also pretty expensive. With a tight budget, making my own laundry detergent is a better option.

I hope this information can help you minimize your plastic waste while doing laundry! It has definitely helped me.


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