Green Laundry Tips

Laundry can be a big energy user in a home. Heating the water, running the washer, and running the dryer can make for a big utility bill. And of course, washing machines use a pretty large volume of water. Also, harsh soaps and synthetically-scented fabric softeners can add to the non-green problem with laundry. However, there are ways to make laundry day a greener day. Here are some smart ways to do that.

Appliances

First, take a look at your washer and dryer. Are they Energy Star rated? If not, consider replacing your current washer and dryer with more efficient ones. Some sources claim that Energy Star washers can save 7000 gallons of water per year! An Energy Star dryer will use less electricity to get clothes dry, too, even paying for themselves over the course of its lifetime.

Load Size

Try to run the washer only when it’s full. Even if you have a “small load” setting, washing just a few articles of clothing by themselves tends to be a big waste of water. Also, if you run the washer only when it’s full, you will run it less often, which saves electricity.

Air-Dry

The time-honored method of drying clothes – hanging them up – is still valid. It’s also very green, even if you only do it for half of your loads. You don’t necessarily have to hang them up outside; not every laundry day is sunny, and not every home has an outdoor laundry line.

For indoor drying, hang clothes on a rack designed for the purpose (you might want to put a tarp under it, or put it out on your porch; wet clothes tend to drip). Some people like to hang their laundry indoors during the winter because it raises the humidity in the home.

Soap

Did you know you can make your own eco-friendly laundry soap? Just finely grate a bar of hard laundry soap like Fels Naptha, Ivory, or Zote. Put it in a jar and add 1 cup of washing soda (the laundry booster – not baking soda) and 1 cup of borax laundry booster. Mix this together and store in a jar by your washing machine. Use about two tablespoons per load.

Wash in Cold

Unless you’re dealing with tough stains that require hot water, washing your clothes in cold water can help cut energy costs. In addition, you can mix some light and dark colors if you use cold water, thus reducing the number of loads you wash and increasing the load size.

Fabric Softener

In addition to being annoying, fabric softener sheets are wasteful. They are also scented artificially using chemicals and synthetic scents, and studies have linked the use of dryer sheets to some health problems. Liquid fabric softener may also have synthetic scents, and can leave clothes with a coating that may not be what you want next to your skin.

Instead, you can try some green alternatives, such as eco balls (bumpy rubber balls that separate clothes in the dryer and keep down static) or vinegar and baking soda added to the rinse cycle (use about 1/4 cup of each).