Laundry is a common chore in households around the world, but many people never consider how much a typical load of laundry affects the environment. Between harmful chemical detergents and heavy electricity and water use, laundry day can have a significant impact on the planet. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can make your laundry day eco-friendly.
1. Avoid Small Loads
Washing a full load of laundry instead of a small one saves energy, water, and money. A typical washing machine uses around 40 gallons of water per load, so even cutting out one load a week can save thousands of gallons of water over the course of a year. This practice also conserves laundry detergent and reduces electricity costs, the benefits of which add up over time. If you have a small load that needs to be washed ASAP, consider hand washing it instead of using a machine.
2. Go All Natural
Swap out those old brand-name detergents for something more organic. A good natural laundry detergent will not have harmful ingredients, such as bleach, or synthetic fragrances. Many natural detergents are made from plants and perform exceptionally well in cold water conditions. If you have extra time, consider making your own natural laundry detergent. It only takes a few ingredients, and it's much better for the environment than most commercial options.
3. Change Water Temperature
Heating water is an energy intensive process, so consider using cold water when washing clothes. You might be hesitant to switch for fear of losing cleaning power, but the truth is that cold water is just as effective at washing clothes as hot water, and actually does a better job on stains. In fact, cold water can prevent stains from setting, and even helps cut down on colors bleeding in the wash.
4. Ditch Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are one of the worst offenders when it comes to the environment. They might make your clothes smell good and remove static electricity, but they are packed with harmful chemicals, which can be toxic for the environment and your body. Luckily, you can remove static and make your clothes smell good without using dryer sheets.
Homemade dryer balls are a great fabric softener alternative. These balls can be reused after they dry, making them even better for the environment. If you want to grace your clothes with a special scent, just add a drop or two of essential oils to a ball before you use it.
5. Hang Dry When You Can
The sun is a great way to dry clothes naturally, and all you need is a clothesline. The sun will act a natural bleaching agent and the air will give your clothes a fresh smell. If you have particularly tough stains that survived the wash, spray some lemon juice on the spots before you hang out the garments.
If you live in an area that doesn't get much sunshine, you can air-dry your clothes indoors by setting up a drying rack near a heat source. Not only will the clothes dry before you know it, but the moisture will act as a humidifier for your home.
6. Do Laundry Less Frequently
The best way to make your laundry eco-friendly is to do less of it. Many of us throw clothes in the laundry bin that don't need to be washed. Just because you wear something for a few hours does not mean it is dirty. Try wearing clothes a second time before you automatically throw them in the laundry. If everyone in your house follows this simple rule, you can save several loads each week. Of course, always wash something that's filthy, or even questionable enough to sniff twice.
7. Invest In An Energy Efficient Appliance
This option is not in everyone’s budget, but if you are shopping for a new washing machine, consider investing in an energy efficient model. These machines use significantly less water and electricity than traditional washers. Over the long run, a high efficiency washer will pay for itself in water and electrical savings. This puts more money in your pocket and benefits the environment, too.
8. Avoid The Dry Cleaners
Dry cleaning businesses often use harmful chemicals like perchloroethylene, which has been linked to a number of health issues, including cancer. Avoid using the dry cleaner unless it is absolutely necessary. This might mean missing out on clothes that have a "dry clean only" tag or turning to a more eco-friendly solution like hand-washing at home.
If you have to dry clean an item of clothing, try finding a company that offers a green alternative. These cleaners usually use carbon dioxide to clean instead of harmful chemicals.
It might seem like each of us has a small impact on the overall environment, but the more we all take little steps like these, the safer and healthier our whole world will be.