Sustainable Living: Washing Clothes Sustainable Living: Washing Clothes

In a time that many individuals are becoming increasingly aware of the harmful effects that our daily lives are causing the environment, sustainable living is becoming more popular. From lowering the water temperature within the washing machine to using eco-friendly laundry detergent, there are a variety of ways to be environmentally conscientious while washing clothes.

Perhaps the most important way to practice sustainable living when it comes to washing clothes would be to decrease the frequency that the washing machine is being used. Rather than washing towels after each use, consider using them two or three times before placing in the laundry pile. Similarly, consider wearing items of clothing more than once before washing. 

Because Energy Star-qualified washing machines use approximately 30 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than traditional washing machines, it is of utmost importance to purchase an energy efficient washing machine. Not only should a consumer purchase an energy efficient washing machine, the size of the washer should be taken into consideration at the time of purchase. A large-capacity washing machine will decrease the number of loads of laundry that are being washed, leading to additional energy and water conservation.

To decrease the amount of hot water that is being generated during the wash cycle, using the lowest temperature setting possible is recommended. Reserve the warm and hot settings for use only with heavily soiled clothing, which requires warmer temperature for stain removal. In addition, turn the thermostat down on the household water heater to conserve more energy.

When loading the washing machine, fill the washer to capacity, being careful not to overload the machine. To maximize energy conservation, only wash full loads of laundry. When a small load of laundry must be washed, pay close attention to the size selection on the washer, ensuring the selector is set to the lowest setting possible. 

To contribute further to sustainable living, consider the type of laundry detergent that is being used. Use an eco-friendly laundry detergent and avoid the use of bleach and other harsh cleansers. A variety of recipes for homemade eco-friendly laundry detergents can be found on the Internet. These concoctions can be used in most washing machines, preferable those that have not been upgraded to an energy start rating. The majority of high efficiency washing machines require the use of a certain laundry detergent to prevent the warranty from being voided.

Although dryers use approximately the same amount of energy from model to model, energy can still be conserved during the drying process. The most effective way to save energy during the drying process is by hanging clothing to air-dry. If the dryer is preferred, separate each piece of clothing before adding to the dryer. Use the auto-dry feature on the dryer and avoid using the dryer to "fluff" clothing. Because a dryer filter that is full of lint will restrict flow, the performance of the dryer will be less efficient, leading to an increase in energy use.

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