Sustainability Journal – Washing products for clothes

Did you already think about the water?

Today we will talk about washing clothes. How easy it is to gather your clothes, go to your washing machine and use products you bought in the shop. But then what happens? What do we really put in the water ?

Most of the washing products bought in the shop contain chemical products. Nobody knows exactly the impact of this product on nature and nobody knows really where the water will go.

If you take a look at your consumption of washing products for one year it is huge and the water is getting polluted more and more…
Depending on the season, we are using different kinds of washing products to wash our clothes. We start to use natural products because we created a grey water system that allows the water of the washing machine to go in our garden and to fill a little pond with water plants.

Spring and summer: washing product with ivy leaves

For this recipe, it’s important to use climbing ivy (hedera helix) and not the ivy covering the ground. The ivy contains a naturally detergent and foaming effect, perfect for a washing product.

Climbing ivy leaves don’t die during winter season but the power is a little bit less than during spring and summer. We don’t use it because we use our other recipes (recipes to follow just after this explanation).

What do you need?

  • 50 leaves of climbing ivy
  • 1 liter of water from the rain
  • pot
  • glass bottle
  1. Cut the leaves to let free the juice. Put 1 liter of water.
  2. Let it boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Stop the fire and leave the leaves in the water for 24 hours.
  4. After the 24 hours, filter and put the liquid in a glass bottle. Keep the product in a dark and cold, you can keep it 3 weeks in a fridge

That’s it, next you see climbing ivy, you know what to do!

Autumn: time to use horse chestnut

For this recipe, you should use horse chestnut, the non eatable one, the other type of chestnut is prefered to eat it 🙂

What do you need?

  • horse chestnut (take it as much as possible)
  • hammer
  • water and pots

1.Have a walk and look around your house, for sure you will find a chestnut tree with a lot of fruits on the ground. Chestnut horse appears at the beginning of autumn.

2. Break the chestnut with a hammer and let it dry under the sun. We recommend you to do it quickly after the picking because if not the chestnut will mold.

When it’s dried, you can keep it as long as you want

3. When you want to wash your clothes, soak some pieces of chestnuts in water (cover the chestnuts with 2 glasses of water). You need around 5 or 6 chestnuts per washing, so take pieces to have this amount of chestnut.

The day after you will have creamy water. 

4. Filter the water to not have pieces of chestnuts and put the creamy water directly in the place where you normally put your washing product.


Winter: reuse the ashes of your fireplace to make your washing product

What do you need?
– Ash
– Water (from the rain is better)
– A big pot
– A wooden stick
And patience 🙂


1.At first take the ashes from your fireplace and remove the big pieces with a drainer for example. You should have some kind of powder.

2. Find a pot and divide it in 3 parts. The first part will be used to put the ash powder. Then fill it with water until the third mark.

3. Mix it with a stick.
You should let it rest from 1 week to 10 days. Mix the product from time to time.

4. On the final day, take off the water (you will have a kind of yellow or grey colored water, depending on the wood you used for your fire). To be sure that the product is ready, touch it with two fingers and it should be sliding between them.

To use it in your washing machine, put one cup of water for not too dirty clothes. For dirty ones, put 2 cups.
Then you can put the “ashes dough” in your garden. Don’t put it on the vegetables because it’s abrasive. You can put it near a place where you want to remove weeds for example.
The product you created could make your hands dry so don’t hesitate to use gloves.

For more Zero Waste recipes and info about our lifestyle, take a look at our Zero Waste Book here.

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