8 Tips for Cleaner, Greener Laundry
Let go of harsh chemicals and hot water, and go easy on your clothes, your wallet and the planet
Houzz Contributor. You can also find me on Lolalina (http://www.lolalina.com/), my blog devoted to all of the things that make a house a home - decorating from the heart, living with intention, and savoring life's simple pleasures.
Whether your goal is to cut down on energy bills or keep toxins out of your home, small changes in your laundering routine can add up to big savings — both for the environment and your budget. Of course, you could buy a new energy-efficient washer (see No. 4 below), but thankfully that's not the only way to save energy (and money) in the laundry room. From adjusting the washing temperature to swapping products, each of these eight tips is completely doable, so you can begin greening up your laundry routine today.
1. Wait until you have a full load. Some new energy-efficient washers have settings that use less water for a smaller load. But if yours doesn't, be sure to run only loads that are full. Cutting out even one load of laundry per week can add up to significant energy savings over the year.
3. Wash (nearly) everything in cold water. According to Energy Star, heating the water accounts for 90 percent of the energy used in washing machines. Cold water with detergent cleans as effectively as a warm wash, saves energy, and slows wear and tear on your clothes. Use hot water just when you really need to sanitize something (if there has been an illness in the house, for instance).
4. Choose an Energy Star rated washer. When it's time to trade in your old washer, be sure to look for a new model with the Energy Star label — they use half the water and up to 30 percent less energy than standard washers.
5. Cut down on dry cleaning. The dry cleaning process uses harmful chemicals that linger on your clothes after you bring them home, so cutting back on trips to the dry cleaner is a good way to reduce toxins in your home. Try hand-washing some items (or use the hand-wash cycle in your washer) and dry flat. And try to choose clothes that don't need dry cleaning. You can also search for a green dry cleaner in your area; they should avoid the most harmful dry cleaning chemicals, but ask to be sure what methods they use.
6. Let delicate clothes air dry on a drying rack. While washing machines are becoming quite efficient, dryers still have a long way to go — in fact, they are not rated by Energy Star because there is little difference among them. Cut down on your dryer use by air drying lightweight items on a folding rack. Most delicate items dry quickly and will last longer if not exposed to the hot air of the dryer.
7. Fight stains and dirt with natural products. Before you reach for that stain-removing stick or bottle of chlorine bleach, try something gentler. Cornstarch and baking soda both work well to soak up oily stains; hydrogen peroxide can take the place of bleach (it's the main ingredient in most non-chlorine bleach products); and white vinegar is great for removing stains and ground-in dirt.
Photo courtesy of Our Vintage Home Love
Photo courtesy of Our Vintage Home Love
8. Set up your laundry room for success. Keeping a tub for soaking stained items on top of the washer will remind you to treat stains promptly. Give your natural cleaning supplies a home on a shelf, choose a dedicated spot for storing your drying rack between uses, and hang a handy stain-removal chart where you can easily refer to it.
Ideabook published on Nov. 22, 2012.
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