If you're looking for ways to be sustainable with a baby, laundry is a good place to start! Now that you have a dependent baby unintentionally making all sorts of mess, you're probably doing laundry more than once a week. At this frequency, any change that you make will have quite a cumulative impact on the environment in the long run!
Here are some tips to get you started doing laundry sustainably with your baby:
1. Pre-empt the mess.
Everyone knows stained clothing is much harder to clean. Anyone who has spilled curry on their white dress, for example, will know that the stain never quite goes away. This means more water used in multiple washes as you try to get rid of the stain. As adults, we can tell ourselves to eat more carefully, but we definitely can't do that with our babies. So what can you do?
Remove clothing before eating.
This may sound ridiculous, but it will save you a lot of washing, especially if you're trying baby-led weaning and your little munchkin is having a great time experiencing the new food. Consider doing this particularly if you're introducing foods that tend to leave stains (e.g. berries). Your baby won't know the difference anyway!
Invest in a waterproof bib.
If you're not sold on the idea of undressing your baby before dinnertime, a good bib might help prevent food from getting onto your baby's clothing. Consider a full setup, such as the Bubsmamy Bubs-Led Weaning Kit. It includes a food-safe, non-toxic bib and tray layout that covers everything from your little one's neck and below. You can be sure no food is going to stain your baby's clothing this way!
Alternatively, if cost is an issue or if your baby fusses at the setup, you might also consider food-safe silicone bibs. Of course, this provides less protection for your baby's clothing, but some cover is better than none at all! At the end of the meal, the bib can be washed lightly under the sink without difficulty.
2. Use sustainable laundry detergents.
Go with plant-based detergents, which are both gentle on the skin (perfect for your baby!) and don't contain ingredients that are harmful for the environment. Most plant-based detergents are also either unscented or scented with essential oils, which make them better for sensitive skin.
Soap nuts are a fruit that produces mild suds in water. They can be soaked in water overnight to form a liquid that you can use in place of regular detergent. They can also be placed in a cotton cloth bag directly in the washing machine with your clothes.
Soap nuts can be purchased from physical stores such as The Sustainability Project, Himalayan Premium Foods and Scoop Wholefoods. They are also available online from The DIY Secrets, Shopee and Lazada.
Aside from being a natural washing solution, soap nuts are a sustainable option as the fruit itself is biodegradable. They also do away with the standard plastic packaging used to store liquid detergent.
Green Laundry Detergent
If making your own laundry detergent out of soap nuts sounds like too much of a hassle, consider purchasing plant-based laundry detergent instead.
Ecover offers consumers an assortment of household cleaning products, including those for laundry use. Aside from the detergent itself, you might be happy to know that Ecover's sustainability practices extend across the business. From using recycled plastic for their packaging to manufacturing with zero carbon footprint, Ecover takes an all-rounded approach.
Green Kulture is a Singaporean brand that offers a variety of household cleaners, including laundry detergent. The brand was started by a father of two young children, who wanted to provide families with a healthier and more environmentally-friendly cleaning options. Their products are manufactured locally, for relatively wallet-friendly prices.
Soapnut Republic produces a range of laundry products, from liquid detergent to powdered soap and natural stain removers, made out of soap nuts. If you'd like to try out a soap nut formulation, you might want to check them out.
3. Choose clothing made of natural fibres.
Clothing made out of synthetic fibres, such as acrylic, polyester and nylon, release microplastics into the environment during manufacture, wear, washing and drying.
If possible, choose clothing made out of natural fibres, such as cotton, bamboo or linen. Natural fibres are often also more breathable, making it more comfortable for your baby in our hot Singaporean weather. (Did you know that the items we include in our Bambino subscription are all made of cotton?)
We hope you've found this piece useful in helping you do laundry in an eco-friendly manner, even with your little one! If you'd like to find out more about how Bambino helps make your baby's journey more sustainable, check us out here.
(Bambino is not affiliated to the brands or services listed in this article, unless otherwise stated.)