8 Laundry Mistakes We Make That Are Hurting The Planet

From using the wrong detergent to ignoring microplastics, here's a fix for all these problems!

It’s laundry day. You’ve got a pile of dirty clothes that need to be washed and dried, and you’re ready to get them done. But before you fill-up the machine, there are some important points to consider about laundry care. It’s always recommended to make sure you’re doing laundry correctly, as it gets your clothes clean and also saves you money. But did you know there are small steps that can actually help the planet? Let’s look at these little laundry mistakes we make and find the right ways to remedy them.

Laundry mistakes that hurt the planet and how to fix them

laundry mistakes to easily avoid
Darya Sannikova / Pexels

From using the wrong detergent to running the dryer for too long, there are a number of ways you’re messing up your laundry. Here’s a list of laundry mistakes you never knew you were making — and how to fix them in order to save energy, money, and the planet.

1. Not waiting for the laundry bag to be full

laundry mistakes - not waiting for laundry basket to get filled
Ron Lach / pexels

A common laundry mistake all of us make is to either wash too many or very less clothes at a time. When you put a lot of clothes in the washer at once chances are you will end up with dirty laundry even after the washing is done. This is because your clothes didn’t get enough space in the washer. Similarly, washing just a teeny tiny number of clothes takes up more of everything – time, electricity, water (approx. 18 gallons with every cycle), and the life of your clothes.

This ultimately adds up to your water footprint and carbon footprint alike (which you obviously don’t want!) So, the best way to do laundry is when you have your laundry basket full and not overflowing with clothes. If you feel you have enough clothes to fill the washer by end of every week or every 10 days, then do the laundry weekly or every 10 days.

2. Tossing clean clothes in the laundry

laundry mistakes we all can avoid
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We are all pretty much guilty of this one laundry mistake – tossing clothes in the laundry just after one wear. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash your delicates every day. This simply means every clothing can be worn a different number of times before you can put them in the washer.

It is important to genuinely give your clothes a look before you toss them in the laundry basket. For example, denim jeans can be washed after 10 wears while an organic cotton t-shirt should be washed after 2 wears. This will again increase the life of your clothes, plus it will save you money on both the new clothes and your bills.

3. Not using the right setting on the washer

No matter how good your machine is if you don’t use it with the right settings you won’t get good results. In addition, it will only add to your bills. So, it’s best to read the user manual and know which setting to use for different kinds of laundry needs. Most machines also come with options like water-efficient or eco mode that help save energy and water.

4. Using toxic detergents, stain removers, and fabric softeners

laundry mistakes - detergent
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Detergents, stain removers, and fabric softeners have harsh chemicals like phthalates and artificial fragrances that end up giving skin irritation, allergies, or asthma. It is best to switch to nontoxic detergent pods, laundry eggs, laundry strips, and stain remover sticks from brands like Dropps, Eco Egg, and Tru Earth. It is best to avoid fabric softeners. Instead, add a few drops of essential oils to your dryer balls.

6. Using hot water instead of cold

An average American spends over $200 a year to heat water. (Yikes!) Even though you want your clothes squeaky clean, the key is to use a good detergent and tend to stains as soon as possible. In fact, some stains like blood and sweat can set in hot water. Hot water also tends to shrink, fade, and wrinkle certain fabrics like silk and lace quite easily. The best way to wash your clothes so that they last longer is using the cold wash option.

5. Ignoring the microplastics

laundry microplastics catcher
thecoraball / Instagram

Microplastics are tiny plastic pieces (less than 5 millimeters) that are harmful to the oceans and aquatic life. These are now also ending up in the food chain and on our plates. Unfortunately, most synthetic fabrics have plastics in them, and while washing they break into microplastics and go down the drain and ultimately into the oceans. But you can prevent this from happening by adding a microplastic catcher like a Cora Ball to your laundry or adding a microplastic filter to your machine.

7. Not cleaning the dryer lint

First off, if you have space to line dry it is the best way to do laundry efficiently as it saves a lot of energy. But if you do not have space to use a dryer then make sure to clean the dryer lint, trap, and vent. Most dryer fires are caused by a due build-up of the lint. Regularly maintaining the machines also makes them efficient which in turn saves energy.

8. Opting for dryer sheets over dryer balls

Laundry mistakes - dryer sheets and dryer balls
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Dryer sheets are notorious for causing static cling, especially on dark fabrics. They also leave behind a coating of chemical residue that can clog up your dryer vent and cause damage over time. Instead of using dryer sheets, opt for 100% wool dryer balls instead. These natural products will eliminate static cling and leave your clothes smelling fresh without any harmful chemicals.

Final takeaways

The best part about washing clothes is that you always have a chance to perfect the process. It’s easy to make little mistakes when doing your laundry, but fortunately, they’re easily fixed. By correcting these laundry mistakes today, you can significantly reduce your environmental impact on the planet, save some money, and get great-smelling clothes too! Win-win-win!

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