Although laundry is a necessary evil, there are a lot of ways you can make it less “evil” for the environment. By taking some simple steps not only can you make doing laundry more eco-friendly, but you can actually save quite a bit of money as well. It’s a win-win situation.
Here are some easy ways to green up your laundry routine:
1. Wash in Cold Water
Whenever possible, wash your clothes in cold water rather than hot. As much as 90% of the energy that your washing machine uses goes to heating water. If you can avoid using hot water as much as possible you can significantly cut down on the energy usage of your machine. Not only does it help the environment by saving power, but you also can save money on your power bill each month.
2. Line Dry Clothing
Skip the dryer all together and hang clothes to dry instead. You can hang them outside if you have the space and the weather is good, or choose a fold-away drying rack if you need to dry them indoors.
Line dried clothing tends to be stiffer and less fluffy than clothing dried in a dryer. If you want your clothes to have that dryer fluffiness, you can still get it without using nearly as much power. Simply line dry your clothing until it is barely damp, then toss it in the dryer for a few minutes to finish drying and fluff up the fabric. You’ll be able to significantly cut down on the amount of time you need to running your dryer and will save a lot of energy as a result.
If you are in a hurry and need your clothes dried quickly, dry them until they are barely damp in the dryer and then hang them to dry the rest of the way. You can still shave minutes off the time you run your dryer but can have your clothes dry faster than if you just hung them straight on the line.
3. Skip Dryer Sheets
Static cling on clothing comes from drying them completely in the dryer. When they are dry and the fabric rubs together it builds up a static charge. You can eliminate dryer sheets and thus cut down on the amount of waste you throw away by drying clothing until it is barely damp and then hanging it to dry the rest of the way.
You can also opt for dryer balls to cut down on drying times and eliminate static. Dryer balls are hard rubber balls with small nubs on them that you toss in the dryer with your clothing. As the dryer spins they help to keep fabric separated which cuts down on static cling and also fluffs the fabric at the same time. The only downside is that they are noisy, so if noise is an issue you might want to skip them.
4. Use Natural Fabric Softener
Skip commercial fabric softener and use vinegar instead. Just pour vinegar in the same way you would regular fabric softener. It will leave your clothes soft, and surprisingly does not leave behind any vinegar smell. You’ll keep from washing the chemical in fabric softener down the drain and at the same time will save money since vinegar is quite a bit cheaper.
5. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
Making your own laundry detergent can be a huge money saver and is fairly easy to do. I personally make powdered laundry detergent because I find it easier to store, but you can also make liquid detergent if you prefer. Here’s the recipe I use:
- 1 Bar Castile Soap
- 2 Cups Borax
- 2 Cups Washing Soda (look for Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda in the laundry aisle at your local store)
Grate the castile soap using a cheese grater or food processor. You want to get the pieces of soap as small as possible since they will need to dissolve easily in your washing machine. If the pieces are too large from a cheese grater leave them out overnight to dry and then crumble them smaller the following day. You can try putting them in a plastic bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin to grind them down into finer pieces.
Mix the small pieces of soap, washing soda and borax together in a bucket or tub with a lid. Use approximately 1-2 tbsp. per load. You may need to play around with how much you use depending upon how hard your water is where you live.
When I make laundry detergent I increase the recipe and make it in bulk, then store it in a bucket with a tight fitting lid.
These tips should help you save power, save water and cut down on the number of chemicals you are pouring down your drain. Not only that, but they should save you lots of money as well. Try them out and use the ones that work best for you.