Green Laundry Care with Dr. Bronner’s (Video)

Profoundly grateful.  Every time I load my washer, I feel it.  I am so very, very appreciative for all the people whose ingenuity and curiosity led to the invention of the modern-day washing machine.

The whole process of washing my clothes takes roughly 5 active minutes of my time.  I realize when I add in “thinking about the laundry,” “getting distracted while doing the laundry,” and “rewashing the laundry because I left it wet in the washer for a week,” then the process gets longer.  But as far as my active participation in one load, there’s just a couple minutes to start it and a few minutes to hang clothes to dry or transfer to the dryer.  As of yet, there’s no automated way to fold the laundry and put it away so we’re still pretty much just as mechanical as our 19th century counterparts.  And while I am missing out on the cardio and muscle-toning aspects of washing king-sized bedsheets by hand, I can start a load while the coffee is brewing and feel productive while reading the morning paper.

If I had a pie chart of how I use the most Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds in my home, the greatest wedge would be laundry.  Not because I use a lot per load, but rather because I do a lot of laundry.  With five humans, two cats, one dog, and acres of dirt, that’s to be expected.

My laundry cabinet has both Sal Suds and Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap, but I reach for Sal Suds more often because it’s a bit tougher on stains and more effective in my hard water.  I got started using Sal Suds on my clothes not because my dad invented it (sorry, Pop), but because as I learned about problematic ingredients in cleaning products, I realized that any of them left on fabrics in the wash were going to spend a whole lot of time in contact with my skin, and my family’s skin.  That adds up to a lot of exposure.  In the video, I go into greater detail about these ingredients, but the end result was my wanting “clean” laundry cleaners, which the Pure-Castile soap and Sal Suds are.

My laundry regimen is simple.  For clothing, I use about 2-3 Tbsp. (30-45 mL) of Sal Suds or 1/3-1/2 c. (80-120 mL) of Pure-Castile Liquid soap for each large load in my regular washer.  When I’m washing something grubbier, like towels, I might throw in a ½ c. (120 mL) of baking soda and with the Castile, because I have hard water, I’ll add 1 cup (240 mL) of vinegar to the rinse water via the fabric softener compartment.  For an HE washing machine, halve these amounts.  Both the Sal Suds and Castile soap biodegrade readily and are safe for septic and greywater systems.

For the inevitable ketchup/grass/last night’s dinner on clothing, I pre-treat the stain by dabbing a small amount of Sal Suds directly on to it before washing. For broader stains, like ring-around-the-collar, I spray them with my Sal Suds All-Purpose Spray.

That’s it. I feel I should apologize for being so simple, but my laundry comes clean, the colors stay vibrantly in place, and my clothes don’t wear down unduly.  I’m good with that.

Then comes the drying.  Drying our clothes is probably the single harshest thing we do to them, or at least it is once we’re old enough to find that sliding on our knees on asphalt is no longer fun.  The dryer shortens the life-span of our clothes, not to mention takes a tremendous amount of energy.  Air-drying clothes is best for the clothes, best for your energy bills, and best for the environment.

All this talk about laundry is part of what I rather recently realized are the three foundational pillars of my house: bed, laundry, and dishes.  These three tasks control my productivity, my house’s order, and my peace of mind.  When my day rolls out in front of me each morning, with its roughly 1202 undone tasks, I get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.  I am a naturally indecisive person – or as I prefer to say, someone who can see the value in many different possibilities.  It’s paralyzing.  Now I have a starting place.  Make my bed, start the laundry, load the dishwasher.

Here’s why.  If I do bed/laundry/dishes, then everything else falls into place, or at least it seems to, which is good enough for me.  If I neglect bed/laundry/dishes and start elsewhere, then nothing seems done anywhere, regardless of what I might accomplish.  At the end of the day, it looks like all I did was lay around.

I’m past the days when life seemed composed entirely of one giant pile of dirty laundry, like some sort of domestic haystack, with kids of varying sizes sliding down it.  I don’t mind doing the laundry, but am far happier to have the time with the kids.

54 thoughts on “Green Laundry Care with Dr. Bronner’s (Video)

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I predominately use the Castile Soap for all my cleaning, and keep Sal Suds on hand for the car and exterior of the house. I happened to notice on the bottle of Sal Suds I bought the other day that the disclosure regarding Potassium Hydroxide is not the same as it is on the Castile Soap bottle. None remains in the Castile Soap after saponification, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with Sal Suds? I’m very curious what function the Potassium Hydroxide serves in the creation and/or use of Sal Suds.

    • Hi Brent- Aha! A fellow label reader! In Sal Suds, the potassium hydroxide is used as needed as a pH balancer.

    • Interesting! Do you know the concentration used in Sal Suds? I’ve read Potassium Hydroxide can be harmful at higher concentrations.

    • Hi Brent- Yes, that is true. In Sal Suds, the potassium hydroxide is added only as needed to counteract low acid. There is none leftover in the final product.

    • Oh I see! Thank you for clearing that up, although you’ve peaked my curiosity further. If none remains, why does the label not say that? Are the disclosure requirements different for Sal Suds than they are for the soaps?

    • Hi Brent- With the Castile soap, its not a requirement, but we do it for consumers. It’s not been as important with Sal Suds. You’re right though, it does look like an inconsistency. I’ll mention this to the team.

    • Lisa, you rock! Thank you for taking the time to read all of these and respond. I’m a customer for life.

  2. Hi! I’m nervous to try the Sal Sud in my laundry, specially because I don’t want to use too much or too little. The quantities you’re talking are for a large load, but what’s a large load for you?

    What about only 2 weeks undies (living alone)? What should I use for some shirts? I hate having this doubts, hope you can help me.

    • Hi Adrian- We’re a family of 5 so I’m certain my definition of a large load of laundry is different than yours! Start with 1-2 Tbsp. per load (half that if using an HE machine). There’s no hard-and-fast rule for the amounts, so use less for a smaller load and a tad more for a grungier load. There’s no concern for toxicity if using a larger amount.

  3. Do you put the baking soda in the detergent compartment of an HE frontloading machine?
    When do you put the vinegar in for the rinse?
    Thanks and I can’t wait to try these products!
    Jan

    • Hi Jan- It’s great to hear you’re using our soaps in the laundry! Baking soda will cake up in the detergent compartment over time. Instead, load the washer and sprinkle the baking soda on top of the clothes. Put the vinegar in the fabric softener compartment and it will automatically dispense during the rinse cycle.

  4. Thanks for the post! Does Sal Suds tackle odors well? Especially those in athletic and/or technical fabrics? Really looking to simplify and green-up my laundry routine, but need to be able to rid clothes of odors too! Thanks!

    • Hi Amy- Speaking from experience here, yes. Although for those extra grubby loads, I like to give it an extra boost by adding 1/2 cup baking soda in the wash and 1 cup vinegar in the rinse cycle. (Halve those amounts for an HE machine.)

  5. When using dr bronners with an HE washer… do you put it in the detergent compartment? Or directly into the washer?

    • Hi Taylor- Pour it right in the detergent compartment. If you’re using vinegar, put that in the fabric softener compartment.

  6. So, all I’d need is Sal’s Suds? I don’t need washing soda. All the DIY laundry detergent recipes I’ve seen call for washing soda. I don’t have an HE machine nor do I have hard water. How much Sal Suds should I use? 1 tablespoon?

    • Hi there- Yes! 1 Tbsp. of Sal Suds is all you need! Washing soda can wear down fabrics over time, so save that for the really grungy loads, or use 1/4 cup baking soda instead.

    • Thanks! The Pure Castile Liquid Soap appears to be easier for me to find locally than Sal Suds. Can I use that instead? If so, would I used still use 1 Tbsp. of Pure-Castile Liquid Soap? Also, does it matter which of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap I use for laundry? I’m considering Baby Unscented and maybe peppermint.

    • Whatever scent of Castile soap you like or have on-hand will do the trick. Because it is not as concentrated as Sal Suds, use 1/3-1/2 cup. I also suggest 1 cup of vinegar in the fabric softener compartment. You may find Sal Suds in a your natural foods stores, shelved with the household cleaners, or it can be purchased through our webstore at https://shop.drbronner.com/. If you do use Sal Suds, use 2-3 Tbsp. Sal Suds. I realize I misread your previous post!

  7. Hi Lisa,
    My order of sal suds has arrived today. I have used it before but this delivery looks different. It looks semi solidified and cloudy in colour. It is winter in Australia, is this normal?

    • Hi Laini- What you’re seeing is an indication that your Sal Suds has gotten cold. It’s still safe and effective. Place the bottle in a bowl of warm – not boiling – water and that will restore it to its clear, liquid state.

  8. I love all things non-toxic and finding something effective for laundry has been a big effort. Im excited to try the Sal Suds. Does it happen to come in unscented or a different scent? Im highly sensitive to pine and the smell of it. Even in a natural form. I plan to give the bottle I just bought a try but thoughts Id ask about the scent. I could not find an unscented version but thought it was worth asking about. Thank you for ALL your articles and information.

    • Hi Shannon- It never hurts to ask! However, Sal Suds is only available in the original formula, which includes natural spruce and fir needle oils. It won’t leave your laundry smelling like pine though. Sal Suds rinses exceedingly clean and the essential oils are washed away. For household cleaning, add your own essential oils to the All-Purpose Spray to personalize the scent. Peppermint, lavender, citrus… Whatever you like. Just a few drops goes a long way.

  9. Dear Lisa,

    What is your experience using Sal Suds on dark cotton colored clothing? I am concerned about my rich, dark colors fading. (I do not use a dryer)

  10. Hi Lisa,
    I found out that Dr. Bronner’s castile soap and baking soda removes stains from a mattress. I have young kids and I needed to get a stain (you probably know what it is!) out of my kid’s mattress. I used your castile soap with some baking soda and water and used a rag so as not to harm the mattress. The stain came out quickly with a bit of scrubbing and it smelled great, too! I think I finished the whole thing in about 15 minutes. I had tried to use other cleaners but to no avail. The mattress looks great! I could have saved many other mattresses this way! Thanks!

    • Hi Rachel- Excellent! What a great tip, thank you!

  11. I LOVE Sal Suds!!! Of course, I love all of your other products, soaps, etc. as well. I use Sal Suds exclusively for my dishes and they have never been cleaner. I honestly don’t know what I would do without your soaps and products. Thank you for making them and for helping our environment! You show everyone that we CAN have a clean home, clothes, etc. and not have to forfeit the power of our cleaners. Keep making your amazing products!!!

    • Hi Estelle- I’m so glad you’re happy with our products! It’s great to hear that you are in sync with all that we’re doing at Dr. Bronner’s.

  12. Has anyone noticed…When purchasing just about everything there is a perfume-like fabric softener odor to the product? I notice it in clothing…food packaging…the plastic bags.
    I do not know what the odor is from…but…I bet it is not healthy! So…here is my question.
    What will get that odor out of fabric products?
    I have used combinations of Sal Suds…baking soda…vinegar…Dr. Bronner’s Castle products.
    I have soaked the fabric items for hours…washed and dried using the Sanitized cycle of my HE washer and dryer.
    It has taken as many as 7 processes on the items and still having a lesser odor but not always gone.
    Most fabrics that come into my are 100% cotton.

    • Hi Maggie- Absolutely! I’ve noticed this too. Those fragrances are meant to adhere to fabrics and such. It does take several washings to eliminate the smell entirely.

  13. We’ve been using Sal Suds for several years now; I first got into Dr. Bronner’s products when I first got pregnant and wanted safer alternatives. My husband misses that “clean” smell of detergent, and I have to remind him that “clean” isn’t a smell (it’s chemical fragrance, honey…). I started adding some essential oils to my Suds, but it hasn’t been noticeable so far. Is this safe? Tips? Air drying has been a great addition, too. I wear a capsule wardrobe so I have very few pieces, buy several things on consignment, and thus need them to last as long as possible. The Sal Suds / air dry combo really has been a game-changer!

    • Hi Lindsay- Sal Suds does such a great job picking up “things” that it’s also picking up the essential oils in your laundry. Add a sachet to drawers and closets for a little scent.

  14. How much Sal Suds should I use for my HE front loader washing machine??

    • Hi Chelsea- Use 1 to 1 1/2 Tablespoons Sal Suds. For grubbier loads, like towels, I sometimes add baking soda to the wash and/or vinegar to the rinse cycle via the fabric softener compartment. For an HE machine, use 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup of these, respectively.

  15. Thanks for the post, as I’ve been diagnosed with adult-onset asthma and am trying to reduce my exposure to chemicals. Where can I obtain the pump that fits the Sal Suds bottle and dispenses 2 Tbsp. per pump?

    • Hi Linda- I don’t have a specific recommendation. I ordered mine online.

  16. Hi Lisa,

    Is Sal Suds safe to use while pregnant, more specifically in the first trimester? I’m trying to be really careful about the things I use! I bought a gallon bottle to use as my laundry detergent and for other cleaning uses around the house.
    Is it also gentle enough to use as laundry detergent on newborn clothes?
    Thanks,
    Abigail

  17. Any solution for getting the “rancid oil” smell from sheets? I use oil after my shower and the lingering oil gets on the sheets (no matter how long I wait for it to absorb). After several washings (I only use Sal Suds!) and dryings it seems to be stuck in the fabric. I’ve tried soaking in vinegar then in baking soda but nothing has worked.

    • Hi Stephanie- I checked with my massage therapist friend on this one, who recommends baking soda and vinegar. Sal Suds really is exceedingly good at eliminating odors and stains, so I recommend spraying the area first with a dilution of water and 25% Sal Suds. Let it soak in. Then wash with Sal Suds in hot water, using baking soda in the wash cycle and vinegar in the rinse cycle. Hopefully that combo will knock out the odor.

  18. I spend a lot of time reading on a WIDE variety of subjects, one of which is cleaning products.

    I learned long ago that the cleaning products that I was using were highly toxic.

    My first clue, was that when I sprayed the cleaner the fumes made me cough uncontrollably for a minute or more.

    Then I discovered Dr Bronners!!

    The cleaning products cabinet in my home consists of basically:
    Sal Suds
    Dr Bronners Liquid Castile Soap
    A LARGE bag of Baking Soda
    A gallon jug of where vinegar
    And finally Arn & Hammer Laundry Booster, Super Washing Soda

    From those few products I make up everything that I need to clean my house and clothes.

    I completely agree with Lisa Bronners about the toxicity of cleaning and personal care products!!

    If everyone knew the toxic ingredients that were in the laundry products and fabric softeners that they were using, they would never use them.

    And every time you breathe in that wonderful smell from the detergent, dryer sheets or other cleaning products that you use, what you are breathing in is a HUGE AMOUNT of toxic chemicals that make up the “fragrance” in both of those products!!!

    The ingredients in anything on the label as “fragrance” are some of the most toxic ingredients you use in your home, and since the manufacturer does not have to disclose those ingredients you will never just know how toxic they really are!!!

    Thank you Dr Bronners for making such great and safe products,
    and thank you Lisa Bronner for all of the information that you provide for us on lisabronner.com!!

    • I am the same! I have all of that with the addition of Bon Ami scrub for my stainless steel sink and for tough stains. All of these are such wonderful products!

  19. I love using Sal suds in the laundry! I’m a massage therapist so laundry is always happening at my house. I usually use a cookie-dough scoop to pour the suds into the washer, but do you have a method that works well for you? I’m afraid if I eyeball it I will use too much (I’ve made that mistake before! Sooo many bubbles!) Do you think you guys would ever do laundry pods? Thank you for all your great information!

    • Hi Rachel- I have a pump in my Sal Suds bottle next to my washing machine that I know dispenses 1 ounce (2 Tbsp.) of Sal Suds per pump. That makes it really easy. And no, I don’t think we’ll ever do laundry pods.

  20. Thank you Lisa ,I love using Dr Bronner ‘s I love the way it’s smells and cleans 💖♥️

  21. Thank you! Great article. Refreshingly honest. I too have found sal suds to be extremely useful for washing clothes, out of necessity to try and remove a coffee stain on tablecloth. Now it is my go-to.

    • Hi Patti- It’s great to hear that Sal Suds saved your tablecloth!

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