Laundry… oh, laundry. Just the thought makes me sigh. It is probably one of my least favorite of all the home “duties”, but it’s also unavoidable. Unless I want to send my husband and kids (and myself!) off with stinky, wrinkled clothes, it’s gotta happen!
There are plenty of habits that can make laundry time very eco-UNfriendly, so here are 10 simple ways to make laundry day a little greener:
- Make sure the laundry actually NEEDS to be done. Stop the habit of putting on something for a few hours and then tossing it in the laundry basket. If it can be reworn before a washing, hang it up or put it away immediately… and teach everyone else in the house the same good habit. (By the way, a great “wrinkle remover” is a simple spray bottle of water. Mist the wrinkles, smooth by hand and hang to dry… it works!)
- Load to capacity. Forget those mini-loads… wash only when you can fill the machine to capacity. Also be sure to dry similar fabrics together so they dry in similar amounts of time. (Towels and tees don’t dry at the same rate, so this will needlessly run the dryer extra long!)
- Choose eco-friendly detergents. Skip the harsh ingredients in the most popular brands of detergents and, instead, choose those with biodegradable content made of plant or vegetable based ingredients (I’m a Method girl, by the way!).
- Wash on warm/cold cycles. Forget that the hot setting even exists (since 90% of the washer’s energy consumption comes from heating the water!). In fact, if all U.S. households switched from hot/hot cycles to warm/cold, we could save energy comparable to 100,000 barrels of oil a day!
- Choose appropriate settings. No need to put every load on an extended, hour-long wash. If what’s inside isn’t heavily soiled, choose a shorter wash cycle.
- Skip the dryer sheets or use only those with natural ingredients and biodegradable fibers. Better yet, use dryer balls… I recommend Wool Dryer Balls, to soften the fabric and speed the drying time. Even white vinegar added during the washer’s rinse cycle can soften fabric.
- Use your auto-dry button! If your dryer has this setting, use it! It will shut off when the contents are dry and you won’t continue to tumble already dry clothes for an extra 15 minutes!
- When weather or circumstance permits, consider hanging your laundry to dry. It may sound very 1950s, but it’s actually very environment to skip all of that energy usage. But when you are using the dryer, make sure the lint traps and vents are clean so the air properly circulates and you are drying most efficiently.
- When it comes time to replace a washer, choose a front-loading version. They use 50-60% less water, 50% less energy to heat the water and have a greater capacity than top-loading versions. Plus, because they spin faster, they extract more water from the laundry and this, in turn, reduces your dryer time.
- Batch your laundry. Take advantage of the heat that’s already been generated and do a couple loads in a row.
You may or may not dread laundry as much as I do, but if you follow these simple tips, it’s will not only keep your laundry green and clean, it will keep your conscious free and clear!