For natural laundry detergents and dryer helpers, some of the more popular choices include soap nuts, dryer balls, and eco balls. If you’ve never heard of these things, keep readin, for they are part of the new all-natural, green laundry sensation. And for those who suffer from chemical allergies or sensitivities, these natural alternatives can be a real boon.
Soap nuts are actual nuts or fruits from the Chinese Soapberry Tree (Sapindus mukorossi), which grows in the mountains of India and Nepal. They may be a new idea for westerners, but these soapy nuts have been used to clean fabrics for generations of local people.
After the seeds are removed from their shells and dried in the sun, the soap nuts are ready to use in your laundry. For modern washing machines, soap nuts come packaged in a cloth bag. You put the nuts into this bag, tie it shut, and toss the bag into your washing machine. They can be used for several more loads before you need to replace them with fresh nuts. And the used nuts can be tossed into your compost pile.
These specially-designed, rubber balls have rubber bumps all over them. They are said to take the place of fabric softener and/or dryer sheets, and to reduce drying time. The protrusions on the balls’ surface help to separate fabrics, keeping them from balling up into a wad in the dryer which lengthens drying time. (If you have ever had to unwind a ball of bedding in the dryer only to find it still wet in the center, you know how valuable keeping fabric separate in the dryer can be.)
Many people prefer dryer balls to conventional fabric softeners and dryer sheets because they do not contain fragrances and chemicals. Reduced drying time saves energy, and fewer chemicals in your laundry make dryer balls part of a green laundry.
Sometimes called laundry balls or wash balls, eco balls make use of the cleaning power of water to wash your clothes. The secret is in the design and materials – the clay-based balls are housed in a permeable plastic cover. The balls react with the motion of the washing machine agitator and the water itself to produce an ionization cleaning process.
Eco balls are used instead of liquid or powder laundry detergent, and are said to last anywhere from 60 to 120 loads. However, the plastic part of the eco balls will need to be recycled once you’re through with them.
Green Laundry Tips
- Instgead of washing two smaller loads, wash one full load instead. If you don’t yet have a full load, wait for one.
- If you have to run a small load, set the water level accordingly if possible.
- We do mention to wash one full load, but also remember not to overload the washing machine. Laundry must be able to move freely in the washer for them to be cleaned properly.
- Whenever possible, rinse in cold water, even if they were washed in warm or hot water. Cold water works just as well as warm or hot water to rinse out soap.
- Never place your clothes dryer in a cold place such as the garage or a damp basement. It works much less efficiently if it is working in cold temperatures.
- Inspect the dryer exhaust vent occasionally to make sure it is clean and closes tightly. If it lets outside air inside, that will force the dryer to work harder, and it also might let your inside heat escape.
- Clean your lint filter in the dryer after every load to ensure maximum air circulation and efficiency.
- Try and do several loads of laundry at once. If you place a new load of wet clothes in the dryer right after removing a dried load, it improves efficiency by taking advantage of the leftover heat.
- Hang you clothes outside to dry, or get an indoor laundry rack to hang your clothes on, thus eliminating the dryer use altogether.
We hope that your green laundry with soap nuts, dryer balls and eco balls doesn’t mean that you have turned your white laundry green!