Laundry Detergent Strips: A First Step to Eliminate Plastic Packaging in Your Laundry Routine
If you’re anything like me, shopping for laundry detergent was a headache. Like, an actual headache.
Whenever I had to head down the aisle to pick up some new detergent, the smells would go right to my head and the dull pain would start. I couldn’t get out fast enough. Not to mention, all my options were wrapped in plastic!
When I first started looking into plastic-free products, I realized there were a lot of different products out there to help me reduce or entirely remove plastic packaging from my laundry routine.
There are some great plastic-free laundry detergent powders and more natural pod alternatives, but what really amazed me were laundry strips. Not only could I avoid more plastic packaging, I didn’t have to awkwardly rinse detergent jugs or waste a ton of space in the recycling bin anymore. Plus, they’re so light, they didn’t require as much fuel for shipping. There was a better way to do laundry!
Standard detergents vs. laundry strips: Comparing your options
Going plastic-free in your laundry routine is a great way to start reducing the amount of plastic that comes into and goes out of your home, and potentially into landfills and oceans. Some estimates say there will be more plastics in the ocean than fish by 2050!
On most retail shelves, you’ll find three types of laundry detergent: liquid, pods and powder. Powder detergents may be packaged in cardboard, but the more common liquid and pods come in plastic jugs or pouches.
Pods offer pre-measured convenience, and don’t include nearly the amount of water that liquid detergents do. Liquid detergents can be up to 90 percent water, and you can feel that extra weight every time you pick up the container to start a load of laundry. Measuring liquid detergents can be imprecise and a mess if detergent drips or spills during the process.
Laundry strips remove all the water weight and concentrate their cleaning power into a dissolvable sheet that’s about the size of a traditional dryer sheet. Like pods, they are pre-measured so you don’t run the risk of wasting or just using too much. Their packaging is usually plastic-free and biodegradable, and takes up much less space too, giving you back more cupboard or shelf space.
It’s important to note that polyvinyl alcohol is an ingredient in many laundry products, including more eco-friendly ones like laundry strips. This is a plastic, and there’s been recent research published that it might not be as biodegradable as first thought. Sustainable Jungle has a good breakdown about PVA and its role in zero waste. If you decide to avoid it, you may want to consider Meliora or soap berries.
How laundry strips work: Five steps to cleaner laundry
There is a learning curve for laundry strips that may not happen when you try a new standard detergent. It’s important to read and follow the instructions but also adjust your process to get the best wash for your machine.
Here are the five steps I’ve found to get the best wash for my house:
- Choose the size of laundry strip that fits the load. Smaller loads can usually be cleaned with just half a sheet, with larger loads needing a full one or two depending on how dirty they are. Some brands, like Tru Earth, are perforated for easy tearing. Other brands, like Earth Breeze, aren’t.
- Select your washer setting. Laundry strips dissolve in hot and cold water so you can choose whichever temperature setting usually works best for your load. Many strips can be used in high-efficiency machines.
- Add the laundry strip. Load the laundry into your machine, and either lay the laundry strip on top of the load or place the laundry strip in the detergent dispenser tray. You may need to try each way once or twice to figure out which works best for you and your clothes.
- Wash and dry! If you’re drying the laundry, try wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets. Don’t forget to sprinkle your favorite essential oil on the balls for fresh-out-of-the-dryer scents.
- Adjust your process. Like with most things, you’ll probably have to try your new laundry routine a few different ways to figure out what works best with your machine and clothes. I learned that adding the strips to the detergent tray worked better with my HE washer, and some loads need the water plus setting to fully rinse the detergent. You might want to start with a half load, then scale up to a full load when you find the results you want.
Laundry strips: A note on ingredients
Different brands of laundry strips have different mixes of ingredients. The best way to learn what’s in each strip is by visiting the manufacturer’s website to see the full ingredient list. Environmental Working Group is another good resource to make sure the products fit your lifestyle and ingredient needs.
Here is a quick overview of eco-friendly claims and links to ingredients and reviews for two of the brands ECOccasion carries, Earth Breeze and Tru Earth.
Earth Breeze Laundry Sheets:
- Phthalate free
- Paraben free
- Phosphate free
- Dye free
- Bleach free
- Hypoallergenic for sensitive skin
- Vegan and cruelty free
- View their full ingredient list
- Environmental Working Group review (https://www.ewg.org/guides/business/16880-EarthBreeze/)
- 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, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development test guidelines
- Hypoallergenic, certified by independent dermatologists
- Vegan: no animal-based ingredients or testing on animals by us or our ingredient suppliers
- Ingredient list (https://www.tru.earth/Ingredients)
- Environmental Working Group review (https://www.ewg.org/guides/brand/17520-TruEarth/)
For those who are sensitive to fragrances or prefer unscented detergents, each brand offers unscented laundry strips.
Choosing the product that’s right for you will depend on what matters most to you. If you’re most interested in limiting the plastic packaging in your home, either works great! If your main concern is phthalates, Earth Breeze specifically mentions being phthalate free. Tru Earth may have the advantage if you’re trying to avoid 1,4-dioxane.
Ready to get started?
Here are links to some of our most popular products:
- Earth Breeze Laundry Sheets - Up to 60 Loads
- Tru Earth Laundry Detergent Strips - 32 Loads
- Tru Earth Laundry Strips - 64 Loads
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