A natural laundry room is a pretty amazing thing! You get clean clothes without all the fragrances and chemicals that mess with our bodies.
It is possible – and much easier than you think. A few simple swaps and you’ll have a natural laundry room before you know it.
Keep reading to learn the step by step on how you can transition to a natural laundry room. And most importantly – WHY you should make the switch.
Rewind 15 years, and you’d find me proudly using all sorts of chemicals in my laundry room. Just about as far away from a natural laundry room as you’d get.
I grew up in a house where my Mom used unscented everything. She got terrible headaches from smells (and still does to this day). Back then I thought she was a little nutty.
So once I was living on my own, I was so excited to use scented products! Only a child who grew up in an unscented home says things like that!
Fabric softener was my favorite! I loved how freshly scented my clothes were when they came out of the dryer. The brightly colored detergent gave me a false sense of superior cleaning power.
Is Your Laundry Routine Hurting Your Health?
Yet as the years passed by, I started to struggle with asthma. I never had it as a child or a teen. But in my 20’s I was having regular asthma attacks.
It was frightening if my inhaler was not close by. I stored one in my car, at my office, in my kitchen, and in my gym bag. I felt tied to them by an invisible rope. That kept getting pulled in closer and closer.
I remember using co-workers inhaler at work. In a frenzy, I couldn’t find my inhaler. She was gracious enough to let me borrow hers. When you can’t breathe you don’t mind sharing a little germs.
That day I got fed up. Something had to change. Something was causing my asthma. I was bound and determined to figure it out.
So I started to pay attention to my environment to figure out the trigger. I bet you guessed it already – shows how smart you are!
Why You Need to Switch to A Natural Laundry Room
Back then I was single. No kids, no husband. Only laundry for little old me! I could just do all my laundry in one day – in just a few loads. Oh the life! Now with 4 kids and I’m happy to only have 2 loads to do a day! That’s a whole other story. Back to the asthma mystery….
Every Sunday I had an asthma attack. It was like clockwork.
So I decided to do a little experiment. I switched to unscented fabric softener and unscented detergent. The first week my asthma symptoms got dramatically better. Not gone, but better. I only needed my inhaler once that week.
Gradually it got better and better. I think it was the fabric softener slowly wearing out on my clothing.
Fast forward to today and I haven’t had an asthma attack in years and no longer own an inhaler. YEA! Now I’m not saying Fragrance triggers all asthma, but it is a big contributing factor.
Fragrance is one of the Top 5 Allergens in the world!! (Source: EWG)
Even if you don’t have asthma, it’s important to eliminate these chemicals from your laundry room.
Eventually, I made more changes to achieve a natural laundry room. Here’s 3 easy swaps to make your laundry room a natural one!
3 Swaps for a Natural Laundry Room
The biggest hurdle is to eliminate odors in your laundry room. I’m not talking about essential oils. I am talking about fragrance. Scented laundry detergent, fabric softener. Anything with “fragrance” or “perfum” on the label.
Anything with “fragrance” on the label has to go!
The second hurdle is to use safer products in your laundry room. Less chemicals and more natural goodness.
Use these 3 simple swaps and you’ll have a natural laundry room in no time! Jumping leaps and bounds over both hurdles at the same time.
#1 – Eliminate the Fabric SoftenerMy first switch was to an unscented fabric softener. This was hugely helpful in controlling my asthma. As time went on and I got wiser. I realized there were some yucky ingredients the unscented fabric softener. So I skipped it completely.
The way fabric softener works is it coats the fabric with a type of plastic. Over time, towels will stop being able to absorb water the way they used to. The coating is what makes your laundry soft.
Not exactly a product that belongs in a natural laundry room.
There are a few options to keep your laundry soft without the fabric softener. Your laundry will not come out as soft as it did with fabric softener, but it won’t come out stiff either.
Use Dryer Balls Instead of Fabric Softener
Dryer balls soften your laundry AND reduce static cling at the same time! A must have in any natural laundry room.
Plus, dryer balls are awesome at reducing your drying time!! Your dryer sucks a ton of energy. Reducing drying time is a great way to save on your electric bill. Another win for your natural laundry room.
I’ve tried a couple of different brands of dryer balls. I’ve been happy with all of them. If you’re looking for some cute dryer balls, you need to check out this post.
When I started using dryer balls, I made my own. I thought I was saving money. It turned out to be just a few dollars less. My dryer balls never came out the way I wanted. Some fell apart and had to be fixed. Some I had to throw out.
Here’s how the pre-made ones look compared to my homemade version.
Personally, I would not make dryer balls again. You can buy pre-made dryer balls for the same cost. That wasn’t the case when I started on my journey with dryer balls.
Plus you can add some scent to your clothes with essential oils. Just add 10 drops of essential oils to your balls before tossing them in the dryer with your clothes. Be warned – essential oils will stain your dryer balls. Mine are stained. Now I only add essential oils to the stained ones.
The more dryer balls I use, the shorter my drying cycle.
Substitute Vinegar for Fabric Softener
Vinegar does a good job of softening laundry. Again it’s not going to feel like fabric softener clothes do. But your clothes will be soft.
And no, your clothes don’t come out smelling like vinegar. I had 1/4 cup of vinegar to the fabric softener compartment.
It’s a super simple swap. I buy my vinegar in 1 gallon jugs. It’s a staple cleaner in my house too! Get your
If you’re interested in more cleaning recipes check out the best granite cleaner (hint no vinegar in it). Click the link to find out why.
#2 – Swap Your Detergent
Most detergents are scented, aka they contain “fragrance”. Check your label.
Check your label. I bet you’ll find yours has a fragrance added.
There are also lots of chemicals in your detergent, even without a fragrance. Detergent is typically petroleum derived.
3 Natural Laundry Detergent Swaps:
1. Use Sals Suds Instead of Detergent
I would call this a DIY laundry detergent, but really it’s just a laundry detergent substitute.
Sals Suds is a 100% coconut oil liquid soap. Coconut oil soap is very cleansing, works great as a laundry detergent. Just add 1 teaspoon per load in your front loader and 1 tablespoon per load for a top loader.
I make my own 100% coconut oil soap. But it is not a simple DIY. So get your hands on some Sals Suds.
2. Use Washing Balls Instead of Detergent
A few months ago I started using laundry balls. These are different than dryer balls. They go right into the washing machine with your clothes.
Laundry balls aren’t soap, instead they change the PH of the water to clean your clothes. They contain ceramic microbeads that do all the magic.
I was very skeptical at first. Very!
Lots of great reviews, I just couldn’t wrap my head around washing clothes without soap.
After a few months of use, I’m happy to report they work great!!
I got mine off of Amazon, a knock off of a more expensive brand. I bought mine for $20 for the pair – they last over 1,000 loads. That’s significant cost savings to boot.
To keep them working in tip top shape, put them outside in the sunlight for a few hours every month. Nothing else, just sit them outside. It’s so easy – my kids do it for me.
I do a lot of laundry, so I do this weekly. It’s an easy chore for one of my kids. They are happy to help out with this chore!
Other people have switched to soap nuts. I haven’t tried them. There are a lot of reviews both positive and negative. With 4 dirty kids, I need something that will work.
3. Try a Natural Laundry Detergent
Maybe you’re a little hesitant on the laundry balls and if they actually clean. Or you want another option then Sals Suds. I completely get it. I was there too.
I want to make sure you have options to still transform your natural laundry room without getting stuck. Here are two good detergent alternatives.
DON’T just buy anything off the shelves at the grocery store that looks natural. Just because the packaging says one thing, reality could be quite different.
For example, Planet Ultra Powdered Laundry Detergent sounds like a good option right? WRONG! It scored an F for safety, probably worse than what you’re already using. Check out their rating from the Environmental Working Group.
Here are two detergents I can recommend:
You can also add some washing soda or baking soda to your wash at the beginning of the cycle to get some extra cleaning power. I do this for every load.
#3 Eliminate Chlorine Bleach
Chlorine bleach is bad news for your health, your families health, and the environment. The Environmental Working Group gives Chlorox Bleach an F rating for safety.
I found an old bottle of chlorine bleach recently. I’m a little ashamed to admit it. It was unopened and forgotten. I am telling you to show you no one is perfect.
On a side note: Did you know that once you open bleach it loses its effectiveness over time? Another good reason to ditch it!
You don’t need bleach to keep your whites white.
You might be surprised to know I don’t wash my whites separately. Here’s why:
- I have little kids. I purposely don’t wear a lot of white or let them wear white. Come on now – you knew that was coming!
- Sorting laundry is a waste of time. I pre-wash all clothes or buy second hand to avoid color bleeding. Yes – I do wash all sorts of colors in the same load in warm water without colors bleeding.
- I pre treat stains to keep clothes looking fresh
3 Awesome Bleach Alternatives
Regular OxiClean doesn’t get good marks from the Environmental Working Group for its safety.
OxyiClean can be used to pretreat stains or to freshen an entire load.
7th Generation Chlorine Free Bleach
7th Generation has created a great bleach alternative without the chlorine. The beauty is you can even use it on colors!!!
How cool is that?!?! I bet you have ruined a least one piece of clothing because of splashed bleach. No more!!!
7th Generation Chlorine Free Bleach gets top notch ratings. It’s a great alternative if you’re struggling with the idea of kicking bleach to the curb.
I know you’ll be a little sad to see them go. Maybe more than a little sad. Remember your health is your #1 priority. Even more, your child’s health is a top priority.
I bet if your child was allergic to pollen, you wouldn’t buy a big bouquet of flowers and wave them in your child’s face.
DIY Bleach Alternative
You can also make your own bleach alternative. One Good Thing By Jillee has a great recipe to freshen your whites. You just need some hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice. The pre-made lemon juice you buy in the store will work just fine!
Check out her bleach alternative recipe if you’re interested.
Bonus: Laundry Stain Remover
I was going to skip this one, but I decided it was important to have a natural yet effective stain remover in your new natural laundry room.
My typical stain removing miracle recipe is mixing hydrogen peroxide and dawn dish detergent. Apply the mixture to the stain and let it sit overnight before washing it.
It’s seriously like magic before your eyes. I can get out virtually any stain, even ones that have been through the dryer.
While writing this post I thought to myself. I never looked up the safety of Dawn dish detergent. Other places in my home I use castile soap, but I’ve always used Dawn for my stain fighter.
Dawn gets a D rating. YIKES!!! That’s a fail in my natural laundry room, but life’s a work in progress. I’m going to ditch the Dawn from here on out.
One thing that annoys me. You see commercials showing Dawn dish detergent saving animals covered in oil from oil spills.
Yet one of the big concerns is “acute aquatic toxicity”. So they’re saving all the animals yet killing all the fish? Or does that include the animals that live in the water? Say what?!?!? Scratching my head on that one… That’s a post for another day.
I’m not going to recommend my recipe because of the Dawn. Instead, I’m going to share another awesome recipe while I tweak mine.
Zakary over at Raising Colorado has an awesome stain remover recipe. She uses castile soap, glycerin, and hydrogen peroxide. You can check out her stain remover recipe here.
I have all the ingredients already on hand. I’m ready to whip up a batch. Come on kids – make Momma some stains! Ha ha. Can’t say I’ve ever said that one before.
If you’re not up for a DIY, that’s okay. There are some other options out there.
Try Attitude Stain Remover
Attitude Stain Remover comes back with an A rating for safety. Pretty awesome. While I haven’t tried this product, the reviews are great.
Stick with the sensitive skin version or the Fragrance-Free versions for the best safety rating.
Try Sun & Earth Spot Cleaning Stick
Sun & Go Cleaning Stick is handy to target stains directly. It gets an A rating for safety too. It’s an enzyme based cleaner made here in the US.
If you have kids, this would be nice to have in addition to a spray stain remover. Cause you know kids make lots of stains!
Try BioKleen Stain Remover
Bac-Out Laundry Stain Spray is an enzyme based cleaner. It is rated a B for safety and has some great reviews from users and fans alike.
This is great to remove stinky smells. Like when your kid pees the bed on the top bunk, but doesn’t tell you. They let it dry. They don’t tell you for days. Until you go to change their sheets and get a big old wiff!
BioKleen is known for getting the stink out in the cloth diaper community. BioKleen is a win in the cleaning department.
I know you’re thinking A is better than B. It is. Just remember it has to work for you AND a B is still better than what you’re currently using. Progress not perfection here ladies!
Make Your Natural Laundry Room
You don’t have to swap out every laundry product you have at once. It’s a little overwhelming and daunting.
You need to start with the biggest concern first FRAGRANCE. Get the fragrances out of your laundry room first!!!
You can get everything you need off of Amazon – or just add them to your grocery list. Many products are available in the grocery store now.
Me – I love Amazon. With 4 kids, shopping is not my favorite job. If Amazon can ship it to me without having to buckle, unbunkle, and corral the kids in the store that’s a win for me!
Comment below to let me know what switch you’ll make first!!