alternative: laundry detergent

the green walnuts - alternative waschmittel
How do you wash your clothes? Do you take out the plastic bag from the cardboard box and fill the chemically modified detergent into the washing machine with the handy plastic cup, already included in the packaging?

I do not think that sounds so great. After years of doing exactly that though, I am now using sustainable alternatives to get clean clothes.



alternatives to common laundry detergents.


Are you interested in eco-friendly detergents? Here are a few alternatives with no or less packaging:



buy eco-friendly laundry detergents.

You do not have to make your own laundry detergent to wash your clothes more gently and skin-friendly. Eco-conscious companies do that for a living 🙂


Uni Sapon produces so-called wash concentrates, which only means it is a detergent in a concentrated dosage. I bought mine at füllbar in Vienna and tested it over the last couple of months. You only need to pump 5-7 times for one load, so one bottle lasts quite a long time. The clothes get as clean as with other well-known brands.

However, really sweaty clothes will not smell as nice… I think you have to add more concentrate or use washing soda.

A bit of a downer: You have to buy the company’s plastic bottle the first them and can only refill this type of bottle afterwards. Would be nicer to just use your own containers, right?


Sonett has powder and liquid detergent. The liquid detergent can be tapped at Der Greissler and in other package-free supermarkets.


Villa Lavanda sells online plastic-free and ecological laundry detergents and cleaning products.


Many zero waste shops offer their own laundry detergent. Das Gramm in Graz has a ready-made powder and all the ingredients individually to make your own detergent at home.

You will find various instructions to make your own further below.   


If you are living in the states or travelling there, you might want to check out the simply co. – ever heard of it 😉



horse chestnuts.

I wash my clothes more and more often with horse chestnuts. It was not possible for me to prepared the granulate for the whole year, but I still managed to make a few kilograms.

You will find the detailed guide and my tests of the different shredding methods here.


I would not recommend buying soap nuts as they are often sourced in India. They cannot be called „sustainable“ with a good consciousness.




Did you ever try to wash your clothes with ivy? I did not, but they are a perfect alternative if you have some growing nearby. Apparently, they have a lower content of saponins than horse chestnuts (can’t remember where I read this…), so you need more to have the same effect.

To wash with ivy leaves, you have to chop the leaves so the saponins can be dissolved. As with the horse chestnuts, this works best and fastest with warm water.

I would love to hear from you if you tried this method!



DIY washing powder with castile soap, washing soda and baking soda.

You can get all the ingredients package-free or at least with minimal packaging! How awesome is that? 😀

The recipes I found, all use similar mixing ratios. Zero Waste Nerd uses equal parts washing and baking soda. hey lila hey and wasteland rebel use the same ratio and add a few drops of essential oil for the smell. Zero Waste Memoirs opted for more washing than baking soda.

Castile soap is added in various ratios and has to be grated before you add it to the washing powder. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of grating soap, but you can always buy soap flakes.

I take 2-3 tablespoons full and pour the powder in the appropriate compartment of my washing machine.


Citric acid should brighten up your white clothes and a little bit of vinegar should improve the cleaning effect. I should mention that these tips are not supported by everyone.


You can always make your own liquid detergent, but I don’t see the benefit compared to the powder. Do you? Then please, let me know! 😀



general tips for washing your clothes:

  • wash less often: your clothes will be in better shape for longer and you use less water and energy
  • treat stains beforehand: it always depends on the type of stain how you should treat it – look up different methods before you eternalise the stain in your clothes
  • add a nice scent with essential oils: a few drops and your clothes will smell amazing
  • air-dry your laundry: smells better and consumes less energy



Have a look at the different methods. I would love it if you could tell me what does or does not for you.  


What is your favourite way of washing your clothes?


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