Fresh linens, minus the chemicals

Tips and Recipes For a Cleaner, Greener Wash

Walk the laundry aisle of your local supermarket, and you’ll see images of snow-capped mountains, vibrant lavender fields, and serene rivers. That’s way more appealing than what they’re concealing: toxic chemicals and dyed animal fats. Fortunately, we’ve got choices when we wash our clothes, and it’s damn easy to whip up homemade alternatives that clean well, don’t harm the environment (or your skin), and save you money.

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Gettin’ Handsy
Instead of paying a dry cleaner to fill your clothes with toxins, try cleaning them by hand. Wash light-colored delicates in hot water, and darks and super delicates (like cashmere and silk) in cool-tepid water. Use gentle soap sparingly and knead the clothes in a bucket or sink. Soak for 15 minutes, rinse, gently roll up the garments, and squeeze to remove extra water. (Never twist or pull—that damages fibers.) Lie the items flat on a towel to dry—hanging wet clothes distorts their shape. 

It’s Soap Easy
Making your own detergent is simple: just grate one bar of castile bar soap into an airtight container, and add 1 cup Borax and 1 cup washing (not baking) soda. Mix together, or pulse in a food processor for that “powdered” look. Add a Tbsp. to each load and it’ll last about 32 washes. Too much hassle? Try soap nuts (above), the naturally lathering, dried nutcasings from the Himalayan soap berry tree.

Hard Truth About Softener
Most name brand softeners use tallow, aka animal fat, to coat the garment’s fibers. Instead, add 1 cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle of your wash, then add a sachet of your favorite dried herbs to the dryer.

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Dry, Dry, My Darling
Make your own dryer sheets by combining 20 drops of your fave essential oil and 1 cup of white vinegar in a screw-top jar. Cut up a few old T-shirts into 8x8 squares, and add them to the mixture. Use one sheet per cycle, and keep the jar sealed between uses.

Written by: Megan O. Anderson

Photographed by: Kate Lacey

Prop Stylist: Anna Surbatovich

This story originally appeared in BUST Magazine. Subscribe today! 

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