Laundry probably isn’t your favorite thing to do around the house, but there are some eco-friendly ways to go about doing your laundry so that you can at least feel a little bit better about laundry days. There are some great
eco-friendly laundry tips available that will help you save water and save energy when doing the laundry, and there are eco-friendly laundry detergents in the market that allow you to take a more eco-friendly approach to doing your laundry. Sometimes you just need to make yourself more aware of the eco-friendly laundry options and products that are out there.
The following article, written by Maryruth Belsey Priebe on ecolife, offers some simple yet wonderful eco-friendly laundry tips so that your laundry days are a little greener and a little more rewarding.
Eco-Friendly Laundry Tips
Getting your laundry washed may be far from clean, especially if you use unnatural laundry detergents and inefficient appliances. And as a domestic chore you engage in weekly (sometimes daily!), it can have a big impact on your overall environmental footprint. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to develop an eco laundry routine.
- Choose the most efficient laundry appliances: ENERGY STAR qualifies washing machines so look for their logo on any new washer, but they do not qualify dryers. Nevertheless, there are definitely differences in efficiency. ConsumerReports GreenerChoices has Green Ratings for Washings/Dryers which should give you some idea of what’s best. Washing machines should be replaced when they’re 10 years old. A good pair of laundry appliances can save you 70% in energy consumption!(1)
- Choose a front-loading washing machine: A typical washing machine will use up to 40 gallons of water for a single load of laundry! A front-loading washing machine will use 50% less energy and 40% less water than a top-loading washer.(2)
- Eco-features: When shopping for a new washer, look for one that has a high-speed spin cycle to get the most water out of a load before drying. Also be sure to choose a model that allows you to control the water level and temperature. A new dryer should come with features like a moisture-sensor (allowing it to shut off automatically once clothes are dry) and perma-press cycle (for cooling the air down during the final stages of the laundry). In addition, compare the EnergyGuide ratings to be sure you purchase the most efficient model.
- Solar hot water heater: If you’re considering renewable energy, check out solar hot water heaters which produce hot water without conventional energy. They have the fastest payback period of any renewable energy system and will provide hot water for laundry, dishwashing, showers, pools, hot tubs, and more.
Greener washing techniques
With a good washing machine, you’re already on the right track to developing a more eco-friendly laundry practice. But whether you’re working with a state-of-the-art washer or are grappling with an older washing machine, there are things you can do to minimize the environmental impact of the wash-up portion of your habits:
- Full loads: When washing, be sure to run the machines only when full. This helps to maintain maximum efficiency since the amount of energy used to wash a load of laundry varies little depending on the total amount of laundry in the machine.
- Multiple wears: You can often wear a pair of jeans or T-shirt two or even three times before it needs washing. Doing so can reduce your energy consumption for laundry by five times!(3) To don’t throw it into the washing machine unless its stained or smelly.
- Cold water: Between 80% and 90% of the energy consumed to wash a load of laundry goes to heating the water. When you wash in cold water,(4) you’re effectively reducing your energy consumption by 80% to 90%.
- All natural laundry detergents and fabric softeners: The chemicals you use to get your laundry clean is equally important to the energy you consume. Look for eco laundry detergents and natural fabric softeners to minimize the toxins you’re putting into the environment or make your own fabric softeners or eco detergents.
- Minimize detergent use: By using too much detergent, your washer will be weighted down by bubbles,(5) making it run less efficiently, so use only enough detergent as is necessary.
- Spin speed: If you live in a humid climate where it takes a long time for things to dry (either on the line or in the dryer), use the highest possible spin speed on your washing machine to squeeze as much moisture as possible out of the laundry before drying. If, however, you live in a dry climate and are hanging our laundry to dry indoors (which will reduce your need for a humidifier), this tip can be ignored!
Drying with the planet in mind
Getting your laundry dry after an eco-friendly wash cycle is easier than you might think, and could reap hefty energy and financial savings if you follow these tips:
- Back-to-back loads: Choose one day as laundry day and do back-to-back loads of laundry in both the washer and the dryer. This will help to retain any heat used for the loads, reducing the total energy you use.
- Clean lint trap: Your lint trap allows air to circulate through your dryer, and the more it’s clogged, the less efficient it is. It is therefore very important to clean out your lint trap before every load you put into the dryer, especially after drying towels and sheets (which give off a lot of lint).
- Clear outside vent: Your dryer should be properly vented to the outside to ensure efficiency, but be sure that this vent is also free of debris and lint to improve circulation.
- Air dry: ENERGY STAR does not qualify dryers, so one of the only ways to decrease the energy you consume to dry your laundry is to air dry as much as possible.
- Separate fabric types: Since it takes more time for heavy fabrics to dry, separate these into a separate load from the lightweight items.
- Auto, not timed: If your dryer is equipped with a moisture sensor and an automatic drying cycle, use that instead of a timed dry cycle as this will ensure only as much energy as is absolutely required is used to complete the cycle. A time dry cycle, on the other hand, will keep on heating your laundry even after it’s completely dry.
Use partial cycles: If you’re worried about fabric stiffness, try putting your laundry in the dryer for 5 minutes to quickly fluff the clothes, and then line dry the load to complete the process. This way you’ll lose less energy but won’t feel like you’re wearing starched jeans or washing with scratchy towels.