Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Laundry Room
March 12, 2020
Whether you love laundry or hate it, one thing is clear: it takes a massive toll on the environment. Here are some tips to help create an eco-friendly laundry room.
Depending on which survey you consult, laundry is either America’s favorite chore or second-least favorite chore. But no matter where you fall on this spectrum, one thing is clear: laundry takes a massive toll on the environment, from its water and energy usage to the chemical pollutants it creates.
Sounds like a great excuse to give up laundry forever, right? Unfortunately, our friends and coworkers probably wouldn’t be happy with us if we stopped doing laundry altogether, even in the name of environmentalism. Luckily, there’s a range of ways to create an eco-friendly laundry room and routine. We’ll cover the best ones in our guide below.
But first, let’s take a deeper look at the environmental impact of laundry.
Stats on Laundry and the Environment
These facts and figures show that laundry is resource-intensive, hard on the environment, and potentially dangerous to our health. Let’s talk about how to reverse the pattern and green up your laundry habits.
Tips for Creating an Eco-Friendly Laundry Room
YOUR WASHER AND DRYER
Your washer and dryer have a huge impact on the environment (not to mention your utility bill) because of the sheer amount of energy it takes to run them. The majority of electricity in the U.S. runs on coal and natural gas, which emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Then there are the thousands of gallons of water that go into your loads of laundry every year.
Below are some ways you can make sure your laundry machines are as eco-friendly as possible.
- Look for Energy Star certification. If you’re in the market for a new washer or dryer, switch to products with an Energy Star label. These models are certified to be more efficient than older models, saving you money and reducing negative impacts on the environment.
- Choose a front-load or high-efficiency washer. If possible, opt for a front load washer or a high-efficiency top-load washer. These are more efficient and use less water and energy than older top-load models.
- Use moisture sensors in dryers. If possible, choose a dryer with a moisture sensor that allows the machine to shut off when clothes are dry to prevent wasteful energy use.
- Clean and maintain machines properly. Keep your washer door open when not in use and clean it regularly to prevent mildew buildup. Mildew will cause your clothes to come out smelly and less clean, leading to more washer use. And always clean out the lint filter in the dryer between loads to make sure your dryer is running as efficiently as possible.
Your laundry room is probably full of cleaning products that help you keep your clothes clean, soft, and smelling fresh. Things like:
- Laundry detergent
- Stain remover
- Fabric softener
- Dryer sheets
But as noted above, commercial versions of these products often contain chemicals that can be bad for our health and for the environment. You can reduce these impacts by replacing commercial laundry detergents, stain removers, and other products with natural or homemade products, and by using these products correctly and wisely.
Learn more with the following tips.
- Shop for eco-friendly products. If you want to stick with store-bought laundry aids, there are plenty of brands on the market that make eco-friendly or “green” laundry detergents, stain removers, and other laundry products, such as Seventh Generation and Biokleen.
- Replace commercial products with homemade products. You can ditch laundry detergent and stain remover altogether by using homemade products made from household items. Most recipes call for common, widely available items like white vinegar, baking soda, borax, and/or essential oils to clean, deodorize, disinfect, and soften your clothes. Learn how to make some of these homemade cleaning products yourself.
- Use non-chlorine bleach. Not only does chlorine bleach release chlorine into the water in our environment, but it can also irritate skin and cause health problems. Instead, look for non-chlorine bleach to whiten and disinfect clothes.
- Trade stain removers for enzyme sprays. Like laundry detergent, commercial stain removers contain harmful chemicals. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to find enzyme sprays that use natural enzymes to break down stains from oils, fats, sweat, and other tough materials while treating the environment (and your clothes) much more gently.
- Swap dryer sheets for wool dryer balls. Once again, dryer sheets are full of chemicals, plus they’re single-use and non-recyclable – basically an eco-nightmare. Instead, you can buy or make your own wool dryer balls, which absorb moisture and help your clothes dry more quickly (saving on drying time) while leaving them soft and static-free. Simply throw 3-4 reusable wool dryer balls in per load, or more or less depending on your load size.
GENERAL TIPS FOR AN ECO-FRIENDLY LAUNDRY ROUTINE
Once you’ve swapped your machines, detergents, and other laundry aids for more eco-friendly options, there are tons of small habit changes you can try to make your routine as green as possible. Check out the most highly recommended tips below:
- Only wash full loads. Considering how many gallons of water go into a single load of laundry, making sure to only wash full loads is just common sense. Don’t waste all that water on just a few items of clothing! Bonus: You can go longer between loads by wearing items more than once between washes – especially outerwear or things worn inside or for a short time that haven’t gotten sweaty or dirty.
- Dry back-to-back loads. You can reduce drying time by drying loads of clothes one right after another. The heat from the previous cycle will carry over into the next cycle, helping clothes dry faster with less energy use.
- Hang clothes to dry. Line-drying is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to doing laundry efficiently, and it has many benefits beyond using significantly less energy (which is good for the environment and your monthly utilities budget). Sunlight naturally disinfects clothes by killing bacteria like those that cause mildew, leaving your clothes truly fresh and clean without all the chemicals. Just be careful not to leave dark or dyed clothes in the sun for too long, as this will cause colors to fade.
- Use products in the correct amount. It’s tempting to use extra detergent in an especially dirty load but doesn’t. Using more detergent than suggested on the label can make washers run less efficiently by creating residue on clothes and machines that take more water to clean up. It also releases more pollutants into the environment.
- Wash with cold water. Did you know 90% of the energy used in a wash load goes just to heating the water? Despite what labels may say, you can get your clothes clean just fine with cold water – plus it reduces shrinkage and dye transfer. If you’re concerned, you can look for detergents designed to be used in cold water.
Making your laundry room eco-friendly starts with efficient machines. Check out the Energy Star certified options at Howard’s today.