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Tips for Washing Linens: Use Natural Laundry Detergent

Mar 23, 2011

Using green laundry detergent from brands such as Seventh Generation or Clorox GreenWorks may help prolong the life of your linens. Natural laundry detergents are more environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and made from all-natural, plant-derived ingredients. They are gentle enough so they won’t irritate sensitive skin, but strong enough to lift out stains.

Check out the article below for more tips for washing laundry from the Holland Sentinel. Though they are specifically referring to sheets and towels, these tips can be applied to any type of laundry.

We use sheets and towels daily, but given proper care, they can last for years. And while prolonging the life of the items we own isn’t as obviously green as, say, recycling, this practice helps conserve resources and save money.

The life expectancy of your linens depends on how much use they get, says Linda Cobb, who offers cleaning advice under the name The Queen of Clean.

Putting sheets right back on the bed will cause them to wear out a little faster, says Cobb, but the tradeoff is saving time with folding, particularly those tedious fitted sheets. A few other simple steps can help prolong the life of these household staples.

1. Use the right product

Your choice of detergent certainly matters for laundry items, but also the environment.

“Harsh detergents and bleaches break down fabric fibers,” says Cobb, who personally recommends the Vaska line. She recommends using “quality, safe, natural laundry products” to extend the life of linens.

2. Read the label

Check labels and wash sheets and towels at the recommended water temperature; some items call for a gentle wash cycle or should not be bleached. Most Americans also use too much detergent, according to the Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science, especially as washers become more efficient and detergents more concentrated. Excess suds can re-deposit soiling matter on your laundry.

3. Don’t let soiling build up

Unlike blue jeans, which benefit from fewer washes, going too long between launderings for sheets and towels causes dark discoloration to build up that won’t necessarily wash out. Cobb recommends pre-treating any spots so stains don’t set in.

4. Thoroughly dry items before putting them away

Still-damp sheets and towels can harbor bacteria and mold, according to the American Cleaning Institute, formerly the Soap and Detergent Association. This is also true of damp linens stuffed in a hamper, or towels that don’t dry out fully between uses.

5. Line dry when possible

That fuzzy buildup in your dryer’s lint tray is made up of fibers that used to be part of your sheets and towels. This is normal for newly purchased items, says Cobb. But each trip to the dryer eats away, ever so slightly, at your linens. If weather and local ordinances permit, hang out your linens to dry and cut down on both energy use and wear and tear. If you do use the dryer, be sure to clean out the lint trap after every use.

Did you know?

Concentrated versions of laundry detergent and fabric softener use 15 to 50 percent less material than traditional packaging, according to the American Cleaning Institute.

If you happen to be buying new linens, Egyptian cotton is known for having a long lifespan. Organic cotton and cotton-bamboo blends are generally grown using sustainable methods.

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38 Responses to “Tips for Washing Linens: Use Natural Laundry Detergent”

  1. Orbit Sprinkler Systems - March 23rd, 2011 at 11:28 am

    You will end up having to use more water and time to clean your sheets if you don’t wash them for a long time. The best option is to wash them fairly frequently, being sure to get them as clean as possible.

  2. Managed Hosting - March 24th, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    For the longest time I was fortunate enough to have my own laundering system in-house where ever I lived. However, this last apartment I moved into had the communal area. I definitely learned the hard way about the quality of your laundry detergent. When I used the all-natural, dye free kinds though, it didn’t lift out the stains as well as others had. Is it the washer itself or the kind of detergent I was using?

  3. Rug Cleaning Culver City - March 24th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I did NOT know your “did you know” tips. Thanks!

    Living in an apartment with 2 other guys has not only given me a headache with their mess, but they can’t wash their own clothes! We normally take turns buying laundry soap, but I ended buying my own because they think cheaper is better. I’ve always used fabric softener sheets, but thinking about trying the liquid. What are the pros/cons to liquid softener?

  4. Molly - March 24th, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    It could be a combination of both. Try pretreating stains before laundering.

  5. Molly - March 24th, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Thanks for the tip!

  6. Jiu Jitsu Los Angeles - March 24th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Natural cleaners make all the difference. I have really sensitive skin, so I used to break out in hives even using scented detergent. Let’s just say I was relieved when they came out with natural ones. Now I use the cleaning products, detergents, etc. for everything!

  7. Jet Express Carpet Cleaning - March 25th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Using natural products to clean linens is a wonderful idea. We try to use natural products to clean carpets. If you use natural substances, you don’t contaminate the area.

  8. Molly - March 29th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Glad that you went natural!

  9. Rug Cleaning Santa Monica - April 8th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    I believe that natural is the safest way to go, but why is it that it’s expensive to be eco-friendly? Not only with home products, but with even eating healthy. I like to use home ingredients to clean around the house and that saves me a ton of moolah.


  10. Office furniture and fitouts Melbourne - April 10th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Lemons are a natural way to whiten clothing and linens. Dishwasher detergent is another great whitener for your laundry.

  11. Molly - April 12th, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Never tried them, but a great idea! Thanks for the tip.

  12. Double Glazed UPVC Windows Melbourne - April 17th, 2011 at 2:11 am

    natural laundry detergent – soap nuts are chemical free, antimicrobial,It is then picked up and then dried under the sun and is ready to use

  13. Said - April 30th, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Hi Dear Friend!Thank you! Keep adding new posts :)

  14. plumbing supplies - May 12th, 2011 at 4:56 am

    Lemons have a great cleansing property. It is at least cleansers do.

  15. Testosterone Treatment Los Angeles - May 20th, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I think I’m going to start using natural laundry detergent to wash my family’s clothes. My daughter is experiencing a lot of sensitivity to her clothes. I’m not sure if it’s a certain fabric or if it’s the detergent I use. Either way, I guess it’s a positive change, even if the doctor tells us that it’s a fabric allergy. It’s another way to support the cause.

  16. Molly - May 25th, 2011 at 5:28 am

    It could be both, switching to a natural detergent will lower the risk of irritation. What kind of fabric is she allergic to?

  17. Rug Appraisal Los Angeles - June 1st, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    My son has really sensitive skin, so it’s important that we only use natural detergent. Never thought about line drying because the air is so dirty here, that I’m afraid that the clothes would get dirty again.

  18. Bob@ Comercial Real Estate Loans - June 7th, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    Yes my children stopped getting rashes on their skin when I started using an all natural detergent. It’s worth it!

  19. Molly - June 8th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    That’s great Bob!

  20. Wanda - June 27th, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Natural remedies are best when it comes to solutions for all that ailes us.

  21. Michelle@ Root Canal West Hollywood - July 11th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Wow, this natural remedy is really helpful and I’ll bet it is less harsh on my clothes. Are there any other natural remedies you can recommend, such as teeth or hair care? I’m always looking for new things to suggest to my friends!

  22. headaches after eating - September 2nd, 2011 at 3:49 am

    How many times a week should you wash/re-wash clothes/linens if you have bed bugs and an exterminator?

  23. cartomanzia - September 7th, 2011 at 10:12 am

    this is a very nice article. thank you for all the information and keep up the good work.

  24. website builder - September 19th, 2011 at 3:46 am

    Great post, honestly i didn’t even know that there’s a natural laundry detergent this post is really informative for me. I will check here in our town for a nutural detergent.

  25. Rosie - September 19th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Love the ideas of these “green” laundry detergent but I miss the way that the other detergents make my cloths smell for days.


  26. inspirational poetry - September 20th, 2011 at 5:24 am

    I have shared this to my friends who are also Mommies and they find this really safe and helpful. Also can we use the water for the plants? I mean water from where we rinse our clothes using this natural detergent.

  27. Kinetico - October 4th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Sounds like great advice. Not only for the environment, but it sounds like it can be really good for my clothers too. Next time I buy detergent I’ll give a natural one a try.

  28. SEO Los Angeles - November 17th, 2011 at 11:29 am

    I hate how my cloths wear and tear in the wash… Does washing them in natural laundry detergents help prolong the life of them?

  29. Bed Bugs at Home - December 6th, 2011 at 5:55 pm


    I just recently began using an all natural laundry product and gotta believe with all of the synthetic perfumes that are added to the others – that my laundry should have a longer life span.

    I am curious as to how much better this would be for the septic system as well. Good tips regarding “letting your laundry dry properly” to keep bacteria(s) at bay! Thanks – will share with the family for sure.


  30. Molly - December 7th, 2011 at 5:50 am

    That’s a good question Wesley- I would think that it is better for the environment to use natural laundry detergents because there’s less chance of the synthetic detergent going into the ground and soil.

  31. Layla - fashion tips - December 17th, 2011 at 7:20 am

    Let’s just say I was relieved when they came out with natural ones. Now I use the cleaning products, detergents, etc. for everything!

  32. Homemade Cleaning - January 27th, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Good post with some good points. I would also add Ecos to the 2 brands of laundry detergents that you mentioned.

  33. Packsize - May 17th, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Great post with some good advice. Seems like a good way to clean your laundry while being environmentally friendly. Thanks again.

  34. Douglas Brent - March 6th, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Now that’s totally true! By using natural laundry detergents I can be sure that the linens are clean and my family doesn’t have to get into contact with any harsh chemicals.

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