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.

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

  1. I love my Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds. A transformation happened when I switched to it in my front loading washer.

    I’ve never used fabric softeners, only a “free and clear” type of liquid detergent, plus borax and sometimes baking soda.

    I didn’t know that most liquid det. gets a slick goo when it’s mixed with water. Dr Bronner’s doesn’t, so THE STINK IS GONE!
    Also, when I checked the filter after several weeks, there wasn’t the slimy yuck of previous years, just a piece of lint. That’s all.

    I also didn’t realize that my old detergent caused contact dermatitis. Now the bumps on the backs of my arms are GONE! They’d been there for decades.

    Wow! Thanks, Dr Bronner’s!

    • Hi Wende- Thanks for that testimonial. It’s great to hear Sal Suds is working for you!

  2. Do you add the baking soda in with the sal’s suds in the same slot at the same time? Or do you add the baking soda directly to the drum with the clothes?

    Also, any suggestions for getting tough stains out of carpet or an area rug!

  3. Hello,
    My laundry machine requires me to pour the detergent directly into the wash. I just bought the rose Dr. Bronners castile soap. Would I pour this soap and vinegar directly into the wash? Also what measurements would i use if so.
    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Mary- You don’t want to pour the two in together on top of clothes. The vinegar will react with Castile Soap, causing it to unsaponify (more on that here: Castile Soap is perfectly safe to pour the soap over fabrics. In my top loader, I put 1 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle compartment. If your machine doesn’t have one, you can leave the vinegar out. Or, if needed for odors, run the full wash cycle then add vinegar and run a rinse-only cycle. Some readers tell me they put vinegar in a fabric softener ball, although I haven’t tried this method.

  4. Hi Lisa, I have a question about the bubbles, I have HE washer (front load) and I don’t see any bubbles while doing laundry, however it is clean and doesn’t have any scent. Does it mean Sal Suds is still working? Or should I be adding more? I have hard water here, I did the test with castile soap and the water was very cloudy.

    • Hi Anna- I love bubbles, but they really are a false indicator. Although we often associate bubbles with cleaning power, there is no actual connection. HE machines use so much less water that the bubbles (which are soap and water, not soap alone) don’t form as much. If you’re seeing and smelling clean clothes, you’re good.

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