Household Alternatives - In The Laundry Room

Clothes line, washing machine and laundry basket

Laundry Area
Non-Toxic Alternatives
Washing Machine To keep clothes white, use ½ cup borax in the wash cycle. To remove odors and detergent buildup, use ¼ cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle.
Laundry Detergent
Read Ask Eartha about laundry detergents in the P2 View Newsletter, to learn about surfactants (NPEs) in laundry detergents and alternatives to products that contain NPEs.
Whiteners Avoid using chlorine bleach! It contains sodium hypochlorite which can damage skin and lungs as well as weaken fabrics. Try using borax or add 1/2 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to brighten whites. You can easily find these products in the pharmacy or laundry isle in stores.
Dry Cleaning
Standard dry cleaning uses a chemical solvent such as perchloroethylene (perc or PCE) to remove stains. Perc is harmful to your health and the environment. Other chemical solvents also have health and environmental impacts.  For more information, visit our Garment Cleaning webpage
Find a local dry cleaner that uses wet cleaning or ask the dry cleaner you typically use to switch to wet cleaning because it is safer for customers, workers and the environment. NEW! Watch a short video to find out more about the benefits of wet cleaning.  
Purchase fewer items that need dry cleaning. Some items that you may be dry cleaning may be able to be hand washed safely. Learn more about cleaning delicate fabrics and other dry cleaning alternatives.
Hand Washing Clothes Use a squirt of dishwashing liquid or castile soap in washing basin and soak for a few minutes. Rinse well.
Ink Spot Remover Make a paste with cold water, 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar, and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
Moth Repellents
Avoid using moth balls. Read Ask Eartha about moth balls in the P2 View Newsletter to learn about the toxic chemicals in moth balls, how to get rid of the smell from clothing, and what to use as an alternative.
Drying the Wash
An electric dryer is the 2nd biggest energy hog in the house after the refrigerator. Hanging the wash on a clothesline or a drying rack saves a lot of energy and is less wear and tear on fabric.
Related info in the P2 View Newsletter:
Additional Resources
  • Care2 has many ideas for getting your laundry clean without toxic products. Enter "laundry" or "clothing care" in the search box.
  • If you want to find laundry products that are healthier for you and the environment, look for ones that are certified by Green Seal or Design for the Environment (DfE).

Disclaimer: The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEEP) maintains the content on this web page to enhance public access to information and facilitate understanding of environmental issues. The DEEP is not recommending these resources over any others and recognizes these represent only a partial listing of resources on this subject.

Content Last Updated November 2017