Green stuff in your laundry!

There probably aren't many people in the world unfamiliar with ivy, the  climbing evergreen that can be found on the walls of buildings or covering the trunks of trees. Ivy is commonly seen throughout the northern hemisphere and has even spread to other parts of the world. And although its poisonous qualities have given it a bad reputation, this plant is actually a very affordable and environmentally-friendly household helper due to its rich saponin content.

Ivy is quite similar to the sapindus tree which is also rich in soap-like substances.

Flickr/Jo £o Medeiros

But ivy actually has a few more advantages than the sapindus tree. Unlike sapindus trees, which are native to specific regions, ivy grows just about everywhere. In many regions it is even  considered an invasive plant that destroys people's gardens, so they probably won't have any problem with you removing it for them. All the same, if you see some ivy growing on someone else's property, it's probably best to ask for permission before picking it.

Flickr/Sarah Sammis

Regardless of where you live, ivy is the perfect alternative if you're looking for a natural, environmentally-friendly alternative for cleaning your laundry.

Flickr/Mike Mozart

Tip: When you use ivy to wash your clothes, your washing machine won't get the water softener that is a component of many chemical laundry detergents. To compensate for this you can add a bit of vinegar to your wash. You'll have to experiment to find out what amount works best with your washing machine, but once you get it right you'll notice that it helps to remove stains without leaving any odor on your clothes.

Flickr/Your Best Digs

Here's how: Take a handful of ivy leaves and tear them apart in the middle. Now put them in a sock or a mesh laundry bag. Tie off the sock or close of the bag and simply throw it into the machine with your laundry. That's all there is to it! Just start the machine and let the ivy leaves work their magic.