Laundry day: the inevitable chore, essential for cleaning out the pasta-sauce stains and dirt smudges that accompany day-to-day life. 

Why does sustainability matter for laundry? 

While laundry day may seem like just another task in your busy schedule, it can be a great opportunity to incorporate more sustainable, environmentally friendly practices into your routine. 

Big Impacts 

Many laundry supplies can have a serious impact on the environment. Laundry additives such as single-use dryer sheets can contribute to solid waste. When synthetic soap residue meets water systems such as lakes and rivers, it can poison the animals living in those ecosystems. Detergents containing phosphates can also contribute to algal blooms, which deprive aquatic ecosystems of essential oxygen. 

Don’t worry though; items used in laundry routines can have more environmentally friendly switches. 

Sustainable Alternatives 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers a searchable list of products that meet the Safer Choice Standard, meaning they work with EPA guidelines to minimize their environmental impact. 

Soap can be broadly sorted into 2 categories: naturally derived and synthetically derived.  

Naturally derived soap is made from biodegradable materials, such as seed oil, herbs, and other natural products that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, proteins, and other bioactive ingredients.  

Synthetic soaps are made from petroleum, fat, and oil-based products, which don’t biodegrade as effectively and can be harmful to the environment.  

Naturally derived soaps are gentler on the environment (and smell fantastic!)  

Other Sustainable Switches 

  • Reusable dryer balls can keep clothes smelling fresh while also reducing solid waste.  
  • Check out refill stores that sell soaps and other cleaning supplies with refillable or biodegradable options to cut down on packaging waste. 
  • Hanging up different articles of clothing to dry on a sunny day can help reduce the amount of energy used to dry clothes.  
  • Using cold water and low heat when washing and drying clothes with a machine helps too! 

Information from the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, ProPublica,, and the National Center for Biotechnology Information