Author A. Phyfferoen, J. Swazey
Journal Edition sofw journal 05-2021


When you consider the environmental impact of laundry detergent, it’s almost mind-boggling. A 2017 United States Environmental Protection Agency report estimated water usage per load of laundry. The average residential top-loading washing machine can use up to 41 gallons of water per load (155.2 litres). (Newer, more-efficient machines on the market can use as low as 10.5 gallons or just under 40 litres) [1]. Now consider that, globally, 67% of people said they do laundry twice per week, according to a 2017 Nielsen survey. That is a lot of water! Along with the millions and millions of gallons of wastewater, now think about all the laundry detergent being used to clean that laundry and where it ends up. This means extraordinarily large amounts of ingredients derived from petroleum and microplastics entering our waters and potentially harming marine life.

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