From the energy and water consumed to the products you put in your wash, your laundry room is a great place to focus on going green. It doesn’t take a major overhaul to start a green laundry routine. With just a few simple steps, sustainable laundry is easier than you think.
Use a Green Laundry Detergent
Picking the right detergent can have a big impact on your laundry routine. Many commercial detergents contain ingredients that are potentially harmful to the environment, such as phosphates. Look for detergents that contain natural ingredients and are phosphate-free. Besides being better for the ecosystem, the gentler, natural products can help create less wear on your clothes through multiple wash cycles, which will lengthen the lifespan of your wardrobe. That also means less waste!
It’s also helpful to look for concentrated detergents, which minimize your carbon footprint by utilizing less packaging. Another option is to make your own DIY natural detergent with just a few ingredients you probably already have at home.
Choose Cold Water
Minimize your energy consumption when doing laundry by choosing cold water instead of hot for each load. According to ENERGY STAR, nearly 90 percent of the energy used to do laundry comes from heating water. Cold water will not only cut your energy use and save you money, but oftentimes it’s the recommended wash temperature. That’s because it prevents shrinkage and color bleeding, both of which can shorten the shelf life of your clothing. With two kids and a dog, messy stains are a fact of life in my household, but soaking or pre-treating spills usually ensures everything washes out, even in cold water.
Switch to Dryer Balls
After discovering a sticky residue building up on my lint trap recently, I finally decided to say goodbye to dryer sheets and make the switch to dryer balls. I only wish I did it sooner! No one likes finding a staticky sock stuck to inside their shirt, but most dryer sheets are filled with an array of chemicals that may be linked to asthma. The residue buildup on your lint trap can also make it harder for laundry to dry, leading to longer cycles and more energy consumed.
Dryer balls, on the other hand, are made from natural materials like wool. They tumble through your dryer, helping to soften up clothes, reduce static, and can even speed up the drying process. You can also make your own DIY dryer balls and sheets as a green alternative.
The best way to reduce energy use from dryers is to simply not use them. Hanging things to dry not only saves energy, but it also places less wear and tear on your clothes and prevents shrinking. If you don’t have time or space to line dry your wash outdoors, you can always use a drying rack inside. The collapsible models don’t take up much space when you’re not using them. If you’re short on time, you can just get creative and use the space you already have; I often hang dry on hangers in the shower, and even the playpen has doubled as a drying rack in a pinch.
Fill the Load
Running your washing machine only when you have a full load can help you waste less water and energy, especially if you have an older model machine. On the rare occasion I have a minimal load, my energy-efficient washing machine’s sensors determine how big the load is and adjust the water usage and run time accordingly. If you have an older machine without sensor technology and you aren’t ready to upgrade, make sure you fill it up before you run it. Then it will use up the same amount of water each load.
Add these small steps into your laundry routine to make a big difference over time. Have you tried making your own detergent and dryer balls, or tried other green techniques? Share your experience with us on Twitter!
Image source: Sher Warkentin
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.