Want to green your laundry routine but don’t have the budget to switch out your old dinosaur top-loader for a new high-efficiency purring machine? Fear not – there’s tons of green tips and tricks that you can take advantage of today to save water, conserve energy, and make your clothes last longer.
The easiest thing to do to make your laundry routine more eco-friendly is wash cold. About 90% of the energy used in a conventional top-loading washing machine is used to heat up the water. By turning the dial and choosing to wash your clothes in cold water, you can save a nice chunk of change each month. Using a cold water detergent will ensure that your clothes will still get clean. Also, your threads will stay in better shape longer, as hot water washes have been shown to shrink, wear, and fade clothes over time.
Be Honest About Load Size
Try to wash full loads as opposed to several partially full loads. If you have to do smaller loads, be sure to adjust the water levels to match the load size. If you’re lucky enough to have a smart machine, try using the auto level option. Your machine will automatically select the most efficient level of water to use.
Don’t Be Afraid to Soak
If you’ve got a particularly gnarly loaded of dirty stuff, you can still wash it cold. Just pre-soak it first with a washing soda or a light bicarbonate based mixture. This will help lift the stains and dirt a bit before you put it in a regular wash cycle.
Avoid Permanent Press
The permanent press cycle is used for clothing that is permanent press, or made from fabric that has been chemically processed with methanol to resist wrinkles and hold its shape. Chances are, if you’re reading this you probably prefer to dress in organic fabrics and don’t even have any permanent press items in your wardrobe. But even if you do, try to avoid the permanent press cycle as it tends to use more water than other cycles in most machines.
Watch the Lint
Everyone knows this, but we’re going to say it anyways. Just as it’s kind of gross to let the lint accumulate in your belly button, so it is to let it accumulate in your lint trap. Empty that bad boy out before you do a load. Along this line, be sure to check your dryer vent periodically to avoid any blockages. A bit of regular maintenance can save you lots in repair fees down the line.
Separate, Separate, Separate
Dry lightweight fabrics separately from heavier weight items. Towels with towels, clothes with clothes, bedsheets and linens with other bedsheets and linens. If you’re going to use the dryer, this will help maximize each load.
If you’re lucky, you have a dryer with a moisture sensor. Learn how to use it. Otherwise, consider putting your clothes in for shorter amounts of time and taking them out while they’re still just a bit damp. You can always hang them out in a dry room. They’ll be dry in no time. Also, consider using dryer balls in the dryer. These help beat out the fabric and tend to speed up the drying process.
Try Drying Old World Style
Unless you’re out of skivvies and can’t go to work until the load is done, chances are you’re not exactly waiting with baited breath for the next load to dry. So why not try drying your clothes in plain air instead, old world style. Hang them outside or on a rack in your laundry room. Crack a window and let Mother Nature do the rest of the work. Try this and watch your bill to see how much energy you save each month. Stiff towels will suddenly feel much softer.
Not only does ironing unequivocally suck, but it also consumes energy and deteriorates fabric. So avoid wrinkles by hanging up clothes immediately after the wash is done. Try to fold and put away laundry as soon as it’s clean (rather than letting it sit in the “clean” hamper). Stop easy to wrinkle loads a bit early while they’re still a bit damp and hang them out so that the weight of the moisture will help to naturally straighten out the fabric. And if you can’t manage any of the above, hang your wrinkled duds in the bathroom while you shower. The steam can help reanimate the fibers and gravity will do the rest.
A related post, Washing Machine Efficiency also discusses how to be more environmentally friendly in the laundry room. As is so often the case, many ‘green habits’ don’t cost anything and may actually save you money. Water Rhapsody water conservation systems are all environmentally friendly and help you to save water. The initial cost of Water Rhapsody products is usually amortized fairly quickly; they can save up to 90% of your municipal water bills.