Washing our clothes naturally: Avoiding chemicals

Washing our clothes naturally: Avoiding chemicals

We are on a quest. A quest to eliminate chemicals from our life. Week by week we are implementing little changes that minimise the use of nasty chemicals, by replacing them with natural alternatives. Since arriving in Crete, we have found a solution to washing our clothes naturally and effectively. As a result, we are now able to do the laundry without nasty chemicals; It’s another part of our routine that we have altered for the better. We no longer feel guilty about the potential impact we are having on the environment when we put the washing machine on.

I am always searching for recipes where I can easily source the ingredients from local shops or from the garden. However, many recipes call for a long list of expensive ingredients, which immediately puts me off. The least amount of ingredients; all the better for me.

Why are we avoiding chemicals?

We are distinctly aware of the negative impact chemicals have on us and the environment around us. On a personal level, I feel that for thousands of years we left no negative impact on the environment. However, we are now living in an unprecedented time, where thousands of chemicals are being released into the world everyday via cleaning products, beauty products, DIY products etc etc etc. As we embarked as a nation on this mass use of chemicals, we (the general public) had no idea of the consequences they could have on our health and the environment around us.

In the past I have done lots of research on the effect of different chemicals and their link to health problems. I implore you to take some time to do your own research and make your own decisions based on your findings. I have now got to a point personally, where my intuition tells me that if there is a long list of unpronounceable ingredients on the back of a bottle of moisturiser, then I’m not buying it.
All in all, my simple rule is that if I can’t pronounce it (with the exception of long latin plant names that are listed on natural products) I don’t buy it

If you look on the back of a laundry detergent bottle, you will see hazard symbols, poison symbols, caution to wildlife symbols….aghhhhhh, what do they put in this stuff?

There’s a great book by Janey-Lee Smith called ‘Imperfectly Natural women’. It’s one of the first books I stumbled across in a charity shop, and it has lots of information on living naturally.

Washing our clothes naturally… The recipe…

Here’s our recipe for naturally washing our clothes. When I think back to the amount of money we used to spend on eco brands, it makes realise that I wasted a lot of money unnecessarily. Moreover, I’m not convinced that some of them were as eco friendly as they’d have me believe. Another advantage to making your own natural alternatives, is that you also save money. Have a read of our top 10 tips on saving money.


  • Olive oil soap flakes
  • Hot water.

The olive oil soap flakes are readily available here in Crete. It might not be as easy to source them in other countries, but you can find soap flakes on amazon, although they are pretty pricy. It’s a really cheap and natural alternative for us living on an island covered in olive trees! Maybe I should start a business exporting soap flakes!

“Maybe I should start a business exporting soap flakes! “

Perhaps there’s a more convenient, local, affordable soap option for you? Maybe you could look for other kinds of natural soap flakes or natural soap bars? It makes perfect sense for us to use the landscape around us to provide our resources; think of the environment around you and whether it could provide you with what you need…No,I don’t mean the local landscape of the supermarket!

Olive oil soap flakes

Right, let’s begin…

  • I add 250ml of boiling water to a heat proof jug. Next. I add 6 tablespoons of olive oil soap flakes. There’s no absolute science to it, which suits me fine! You can add more or less if you want to alter the potency.
  • Next, dissolve the soap flakes; I use a metal skewer. When you use something with more surface area (such as a spoon) it has a tendency to clog in a big lump.
  • I add it straight into the washing machine drawer where you put the laundry detergent…easy peasy! That’s how we naturally wash our clothes without any nasty chemicals.

****side note**** I’ve discovered the good old fashioned practice of hand washing certain items of clothing. I never considered this when I used to bung it all in the machine and glug a load of detergent in. If there’s a particular item of clothing that is more dirty and needs a really good clean, then I use a bar of natural olive oil soap and really lather it up until the item is really soapy and foamy. Then, I leave it for a few hours to break down the dirt. After a few hours, I rinse it and put it in the machine with the other clothes.

The Results…

We are really pleased with the results; the clothes come out perfectly clean. It’s a more gentle wash on the clothes as detergents can be harsh on clothing. Although the olive oil soap flakes work really well, sometimes you need something that tackles a really tough stain. I’m experimenting with making a natural stain remover and a natural bleach alternative too. I’ll let you know once I’ve found a recipe that I like and find effective.

There is no scent to the laundry, but it smells lovely and fresh and clean. I don’t like the smell of artificial scents, so I prefer no scent at all. I know that lots of people like the strong perfumed smell of laundry detergents, so maybe there’s a way of using a few essential oils to add some scent? I’ll leave that to you to experiment with!

Voila! Fresh clean clothes…

Furthermore, I would guess that this recipe could really help people who suffer from allergic reactions to laundry detergents, or people with eczema.

Future plans…

As I mentioned above, I want to find natural effective ways of tackling stains. I’ll keep you updated once I’ve tried and tested a few recipes. Also, in the future I want to adapt our washing machine from electricity powered into bicycle powered! We can keep fit whilst doing the laundry plus It’s weird and wacky so it has my vote!

I come up with the unusual ideas and Mr Sidestepping-Normal is given the task of bringing them to life! He must love me because we would have been quite content with 2.4 children and a white picket fence!

Never miss a thing! If you’d like to be alerted of new blog posts, subscribe to our newsletter.

7 thoughts on “Washing our clothes naturally: Avoiding chemicals

    1. Hello! I use baking soda and vinegar to clean the house, so it makes sense to use them in the laundry too:) Thank you.

  1. I always put 1/2 cup of baking soda in with my detergent, and I fill the fabric softener dispenser with distilled white vinegar. Every load. Baking soda gets rid of odors & makes your laundry fresh, while the vinegar removes all soap residue from your clothes!

    1. I love the tip about the vinegar in the softener dispenser. You can’t beat bicarbonate/baking soda and vinegar for cleaning…the ultimate green cleaning ingredients ?

  2. Hi, I live in Greece too and wanted to ask you if the live oil soap after long use leaves any build up on your clothes? I want to make my own laundry detergent and are searching for reviews!

    Thank you

    1. Hiya,

      I never noticed any build up on the clothes. It is very gentle and I think it’s been traditionally used for a long time. Good luck 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.