I love to simplify every category in my life to live more sustainably and stress-free. The same applies to doing laundry. Check out my weekly minimalist laundry routine to learn some secrets on how to clean less often but have your clothes fresh and nice-smelling.
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My Minimalist Laundry Routine
Ever since I moved out of my parents’ home (some 8 years ago) I have been trying to find the laundry system that would work for me and my lifestyle.
I wanted to develop a minimalist laundry routine that wouldn’t take a lot of my time in the day and would make my clothes fresh and good-looking for a long time.
After many years I finally have my laundry routine down to a T and I share my secrets with you in this article.
Since I am a minimalist and my fiance, although not a minimalist, has a capsule wardrobe, most of our clothes are in neutral colors and we need to do our laundry once a week to have enough clean clothes for the following week.
I would recommend setting aside one or two days a week where you do the laundry. Wait till you have enough dirty clothes for the whole load, otherwise, you’re being wasteful. If it’s an emergency and you need something cleaned, hand-wash it.
If you think once a week is too seldom to do the laundry, take a look at my guide to the number of clothes you need to sustain yourself for one week without doing the laundry.
Minimalists like to keep all parts of their life simple, and the same goes for doing laundry.
I try to use as few products as possible to stay eco-friendly, but I also love to keep my clothes smelling nice so you will notice I still use fabric softener.
My motto is to take care of my clothes so they will last me a long time.
Get to know all your clothes and their needs. Hand-wash delicates. Cold wash clothes that are not dirty, but need a freshen up. Don’t overdo it and keep a minimal mindset when taking care of your clothes.
Soak clothes in the sink or a bucket in warm water. Add either liquid or powder detergent to the water and leave it for 15 minutes.
You don’t need an agitator, just use your hands. Rub two parts of the clothing item on each other, do this especially with the parts that need cleaning (either under armpits, or where you have stains). Rubbing will clean the dirty or smelly parts.
Then, rinse and strain the clothes by hand as best as you can and hang them to dry.
You can use the same process with bar soap, just agitate the clothes directly with the bar.
7 Minimalist Secrets to Best-Smelling Laundry
Spend less time cleaning and more time enjoying your life. After you complete your closet purge make sure you know how to take care of the clothes you chose to keep.
Here are my top 7 minimalist tips for a weekly laundry routine.
1. Separate Clothes into Piles
I separate my clothes into four main piles: white, dark, colored, and hand-wash, and wash each pile separately.
All of the colored clothes can be washed together if you wash them under 140°F / 60°C and have already been washed previously.
If you have bought something new and are not sure if it will leak color, then hand-wash it first just to be sure.
Although all our clothes are easy to maintain, there are still some clothes I prefer to hand-wash to make sure they last me a long time and don’t shrink. Those are clothes like formal dresses, knitwear, and blouses.
Wash rags, blankets, kitchen towels, and similar household items separately from your clothes.
2. Wait till You Have the Whole Load
Try to wash each pile once a week or rarer. I recommend waiting till you have enough dirty clothes for a whole load of laundry. Running your washing machine half full is wasteful because it still uses the same amount of energy as a full load.
Overloading the washing machine is also not good for your clothes. It can prevent detergent from dissolving properly and leave marks on your clothes.
How to not overload the washing machine?
To be sure you have just the right amount of items in the drum use the one palm rule. After you fill your load your palm should also fit into the drum without any problem.
3. Check the Labels on Your Clothes
Always check the care labels on your clothes before washing and don’t forget to follow them! Don’t make the same mistake as I did when I was younger and when I shrank my favorite sweater to the size of one for a teddy bear.
When buying clothes make sure they are easy to maintain. If you want to invest in something special, like a silk blouse, be extra careful when it comes the time to wash it.
Here is a helpful video where you can learn how to read the care labels on your clothes.
4. Use Only One Kind of Detergent
I use only one kind of detergent for all of my clothes and textiles, and that’s it. I opted for a liquid detergent because it works much better and doesn’t leave any residue on my clothes.
It is guaranteed that you don’t need a different detergent for different piles of your laundry. You will keep the vibrant color of your clothes much longer if you wash them in cold temperatures than by using all sorts of different detergents.
*To see my detergent recommendation check the end of the article.
It might surprise you but I also use a fabric softener. I tried to minimize and not use it but the clothes just smell much better when I use the fabric softener, so I decided to keep it in my laundry routine.
5. Use Bleach on Your White Laundry
Don’t hesitate to use bleach on your white laundry from time to time. I use it every couple of months to keep my whites looking fresh and as-new.
I know it can sound intimidating, but if you follow the instructions on the packaging your clothes will be fine. This trick has helped me to tend to my white clothes, especially in the summer when we have a lot of sweat stains (TMI, so sorry!).
If you love wearing white like me, you’ll love this secret!
6. Don’t Use High Temperatures
Don’t wash your clothes at high temperatures, unless they are really stained or smelly. Hot temperatures can cause colors to fade and materials to shrink.
Washing at high temperatures also requires a longer cycle thus using more electricity to heat up the water.
To keep the brightness of your colored clothes wash at 68°F / 20°C for best results. It’s also smart to wash clothes stained with blood or wine at cold temperatures because high temperatures will set the stain.
Cold temperatures keep the shape of your clothes as they are for longer and are perfect for clothes that are not heavily stained.
You can wash any heavy-duty textile (like workout clothes) at a temperature of 140°F / 60°C, it’s proven to be enough to kill any germs and bacteria.
7. Line Dry Your Clothes
Washing clothes in the washing machine leaves a massive carbon footprint, especially when using the dryer.
According to The Guardian, a load of laundry washed at 104°F / 40°C, dried on the line emits 0.7 kg of CO2, whereas the same amount of laundry washed at the same temperature but tumble-dried in a vented dryer emits an astonishing 2.4 kg of CO2.
And we’re talking only about one load of laundry here. Think about how much it is during the whole year.
By line-drying your clothes you’re not only being good to our planet but are also saving money on the electricity bill and keeping your clothes in a good condition for longer.
Using the dryer is one of the top ways to ruin clothes, causing them to shrink and lose elasticity.
Pro tip: Do not leave your clothes in the washing machine for too long after the cycle is done. Take them out as soon as you can, so they won’t have a stale smell after they dry.
Everything You Need for a Minimalist Laundry Routine
Below you can find every product you need for a minimalist laundry routine. These are my recommendations for items I tried and liked.
Please note that this article contains affiliate links, and that means that I may earn a small commission if you buy something at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.
This rolling laundry basket is super convenient because you can easily transport it into any room. It comes in four different colors perfect for the four piles of different laundry. Amazon’s Choice.
A collapsing laundry basket is a really practical solution for small apartments. You will need this to carry the wet load of laundry in. It’s much handier than carrying it in your hands to the drying rack.
The drying rack is a practical solution for line-drying your clothes. It’s economical and can be used both indoors and outdoors. It fits a whole load of laundry and is foldable for easy storage.
Biokleen detergents are eco-friendly, plant-based, and don’t contain any artificial colors or preservatives. They are completely safe for children and pets. This big package is enough for 300 washes.
Botanical Origin fabric conditioners are free from parabens and dyes. I chose the relaxing scent of blooming jasmine and wild lavender, but you can opt for another one. It leaves your clothes super soft and smelling nice at less cost to the environment.
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