Zero Waste Laundry Routine: Detergent & Dryer Balls

By Connie

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Is it time to switch your laundry routine to a zero waste laundry routine?

Even though it’s often difficult to go zero waste in certain areas, two really simple zero waste swaps are swapping out your laundry detergent and your fabric softener/dryer sheets.

With the average Canadian family running approximately seven loads of laundry each week, and with millions of empty plastic laundry jugs heading to the landfills each year, swapping out your jug for refillable liquid detergent or eco-friendly laundry strips is a great option in reducing your waste.

At this point, just by eliminating the plastic jug, you will be helping out so much. But you don’t have to stop there, you can also switch out your fabric softener or dryer sheets for reusable dryer balls. 

2 simple swaps for a zero waste laundry routine.
Two simple swaps for a zero waste laundry routine.

Swap #1 – Zero waste laundry detergent

Option A) Eco-Strips (e.g. Tru Earth)

Eco-strips are just like laundry detergent “pods,” but instead of a plastic pouch filled with liquid, eco-strips look just like small strips of paper.

While speaking with one of our neighbours about living a low-waste lifestyle, she suggested that we try Tru Earth’s laundry strips and she gave us one to test as well.

The verdict: they work fabulously for us!

Tru Earth says that by using their laundry strips we can keep 700,000,000 plastic jugs out of the landfills. That’s a lot of plastic!

However, not only will you eliminate plastic using Tru Earth eco-strips, but you’ll help decrease your laundry’s eco-footprint, since the light-weight packaging of Tru Earth’s eco-strips “reduces transportation fuel consumption and global-warming carbon emissions by 94% compared to today’s leading-brand liquid and powder detergent” (source: Tru.Earth).

As per their website, they have the following certifications:

  • paraben-free
  • phosphate-free
  • free of added dyes
  • free of chlorine bleach
  • free of 1,4-dioxane, as certified by independent laboratory tests
  • readily biodegradable in accordance with OECD 310D
  • hypoallergenic, certified by independent dermatologists
  • vegan: no animal-based ingredients or testing on animals by Tru Earth or their ingredient suppliers.

If you’re thinking about purchasing eco-strips from Tru Earth, there are a few options:

  1. Order 1 pack, 1 time directly through their website.
  2. Order a subscription of 1 pack every 1-3 months directly through their website.
  3. Support local by buying them from your local zero waste store (see our directory).

When you purchase your eco-strips through Tru Earth’s website, they’ll be delivered to you in an envelope in the mail, plastic-free.

Package of Tru Earth eco-strips.
Simple zero waste swaps: zero waste laundry detergent and dryer balls.

Option B) Eco-Tabs (e.g. Earth Love)

Another company that sells all-natural, waste-free laundry detergent is Earth Love. Their packaging is also compostable.

You can purchase these through their website or at a zero waste store. Although we haven’t tried their laundry tablets, we have read great things about them and we plan to try them in the near future.

Option C) Liquid Detergent

If you’d rather stick with a liquid, many zero waste stores carry refillable liquid laundry detergents. Check out our directory to find a zero waste store near you that may carry refillable liquid detergent.

You can also make a DIY liquid laundry detergent; however, we haven’t tried this yet. If you have, please let us know in the comments how making your own went! Do you prefer it over store-bought?

Swap #2 – Wool Dryer Balls

After swapping your laundry detergent you don’t need to stop there. You can also switch out your fabric softener and/or your dryer sheets for dryer balls. There are two main types of dryer balls: plastic and wool.

We’ve chosen the wool dryer balls since they are:

  • natural
  • plastic-free
  • 100% compostable (at the end of their lives, the plastic balls will go into the landfills)
Three wool dryer balls on a table.
Simple zero waste swap: wool dryer balls.

Benefits of wool dryer balls

  • Natural fibres
  • Non-toxic
  • Absorbs moisture in dryer → clothes dry 15-50% faster, depending on your dryer
  • Provides softness
  • Decreases static & wrinkles
  • 100% compostable

How to use wool dryer balls

  1. Use ~2-8 per load depending on the size of the load to ensure balance, consistency, and efficiency (we use 6 because our loads are large and because we have 6 lol). You’ll probably have to experiment at first to see what works best for you.
  2. Put the balls in the dryer with your wet, clean clothes.
  3. Turn on the machine!

Tip A) to avoid losing your dryer balls, just store them in your dryer!

Tip B) To add scent to the clothes, you can add a few drops of an essential oil to each ball (we haven’t tried this yet)

How long wool dryer balls last

The number of loads that your wool dryer balls will be good for depends on the kind you get and the type of fabric your clothes are made from.

Moss Creek Wool Works’ dryer balls are designed to last for 500+ loads (as indicated on their packaging).

However, we’ve heard that one way to tell that they’re done is when they become very firm to the touch. Ours haven’t reached this point yet, but we’ll be sure to update this once they do.

And remember, wool dryer balls are all-natural and compostable (as long as no chemicals have been added)! So, they can go into the compost at the end of their lives. Though we don’t suggest putting them into your municipality’s organics bin unless they tell you that it’s okay to do so.

Where to buy wool dryer balls

Wool dryer balls can be found in many shops, especially unique stores in downtown areas. Two of the brands you might be familiar with are Moss Creek Wool Works and Ulat.

Moss Creek Wool Works

Located in Toronto, Ontario, Moss Creek Wool Works is a Canadian company making handcrafted, pure wool dryer balls.

Moss Creek’s wool dryer balls are made from wool that is sourced from Farmers’ cooperatives in South America and the UK. They come in three colours, but the colours aren’t from dyes, instead the colours are from the type of wool used: Merino, Polworth or Corriedale sheep wool.

As per their packaging, Moss Creek dryer balls are designed to last for 500+ loads.

As per their website, the Moss Creek dryer balls contain:

  • No harsh chemicals,
  • No perfumes,
  • No dyes,
  • No fillers,
  • Just pure wool.

Moss Creek recommends that for a normal sized load you use 3 dryer balls and for a larger load you use 6 dryer balls.

You can purchase their dryer balls straight from their website in packs of 3, and you can even choose the zero waste option that offers 6 dryer balls in less packaging. You can also purchase their dryer balls from stores across Canada.

ULAT Dryer Balls

Ulat is a Canadian company making handmade, Canadian-made wool dryer balls in British Columbia, Canada. Their dryer balls are made from 100% premium Canadian wool, are completely made in Canada, and only use natural dyes.

You can purchase packs of 3 dryer balls straight from their site or you can purchase their dryer balls “loose” from stores that stock their products across Canada, from British Columbia all the way to Newfoundland.

Other zero waste stores

We bought a 3-pack of wool dryer balls from Zero Waste Bulk in Waterloo. You can search our directory to find wool dryer balls near you or online:

Note: you can also make your own wool dryer balls, though we haven’t tried this yet. But if you have, please let us know in the comments!

If you are interested in making your own felted wool dryer balls, Moss Creek Wool Works sells combed wool roving through their website.

Our experience with wool dryer balls

We’ve been using dryer balls for a more than a year now and have found that they work really well. As advertised, we’ve found that it takes less time for our laundry to dry when using dryer balls and we haven’t had any issues with static.

It’s very satisfying to finish a load of laundry and only have the lint from the lint tray as waste. (If our clothing was all natural, we could put it in our compost, but sadly at this time it’s not.) And of course, we are actively looking for places where lint can be upcycled/recycled. We will let you know as soon as we find a place.

So, if you’ve reached the next step in your zero waste journey, or if you’re wondering what simple swaps you can make, look into swapping out your laundry detergent and fabric softener/dryer sheets. They’re such simple zero waste swaps and they require no extra work at all.

Let’s go zero waste in the laundry room, together!

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2 simple swaps for a zero waste laundry routine.

We’d love to hear from you!

What’s your zero waste routine like in the laundry room? Have you tried these simple swaps yet? Did you try making either the detergent or dryer balls yourself? How did it go? Have you tried any other swaps? Please comment below, we’d love to hear about your experiences!

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