Our household of five adult sized people creates a huge amount of laundry; the day to day clothing, bed linen and towels along with PE kits and sweaty gig t shirts...
Our washing machine is going pretty much every day, so you can imagine how much laundry detergent we get through.
On the good weather days I hang the washing on the line but with that amount of laundry, on the cold, wet days I have to resort to using the tumble dryer and nasty chemical/definitely not friendly tumble dryer sheets.
So I looked for an eco friendly alternative, one that wouldn't break the bank either.
I started (and stuck with) soap nuts for washing.
This is the official blurb:
"Soap nuts are a natural washing detergent that are literally grown on trees. The Soapnut shells contain Saponins which, on contact with water, release mild suds and can be used as a sustainable alternative to laundry detergent in washing machines. The soap nuts have been used as a washing detergent for hundreds of years in India and Nepal. Soap nuts have grown to be a popular alternative to traditional washing detergents as they are better for the environment and can be good for your skin."
You pop 4 to 5 soap nut shells in the little bag provided and chuck it in the machine with your laundry. No need for detergent or fabric softener. Although it doesn't have any scent so I added a few drops of essential oil.
Several weeks and many washing loads later I am using them for every wash. Clean washing with no chemicals. I am really impressed with them.
Now, they do obviously come from India so there is the issue of the air freight/sea freight eco side of it. Apparently you can use conker/horse chestnut (buckeyes) shells in a similar way. Here is an interesting blog on how to make conker washing liquid (quite frankly I just don't have the time to faff about with it) https://livinglightlyinireland.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/conker-laundry-liquid-verdict/ interestingly she didn't find it very successful.
And then on to the tumble dryer...
I started with the wool balls (in the above photo next to the soap nuts). On the plus side they did seem to reduce the time it took for a load to dry (by about 20 minutes) but they covered any dark wash with flecks of wool fluff...
I stuck with them for a few weeks, adding essential oil to the balls as instructed to make the washing smell nice. But they didn't reduce any of the static at all, resulting in cardigans and dresses producing electricity by the pylon load.
So I switched to Calops Dryer Balls - Made of premium eco-friendly hypoallergenic PVC, the official blurb: "These tumble dryer balls physical interaction separate clothes to provide more airflow and accelerates the drying process.Prevent knot.Our durable dryer balls laundry brilliantly make fabric fluffier, softer and wrinkle-free. It also while retaining the smell of essential oils to make the clothes smell great.The ball is big enough and very easy to use, simply place the magic drying balls for laundry into dryer appliance with the laundry load. It's durable and reusable.Our spike ball is made of superb eco-friendly Hypoallergenic PVC Which is non-toxic and safe to use for all fabrics. It will be extremely safe for people with an allergy or people with sensitive skin that can't use fabric softener."
And I have to say I love them. The drying time is reduced quite significantly (30-40 minutes on some loads) and the static hasn't been a problem either. And of course no bits of fluff on the clothing either. I will keep using these.
Verdict: I love the soap nuts, won't be using the wool balls again but loved the dryer balls.
All the items were purchased via Amazon.