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This post is part 1 of a series on Eco-friendly laundry. Tomorrow I’ll review some actual products you can use.
1. Do less laundry- Wear clothes more than once
One of the easiest ways to to make your laundry routine more green is to simply do less of it. A lot of our clothes don’t need to be washed every time we wear them. Jeans, blouses, dresses, bras, and PJs are all worn more than once in my home. I also don’t use fresh towels every day. Socks and underwear, however, go straight into the wash.
2. Use a natural laundry detergent
Commercial laundry detergent includes a lot of chemicals. Some of these can be harsh on your skin and the environment. There are many Eco-friendly alternatives out there. Companies like Seventh Generation make laundry detergents. There are also some great homemade detergents available on Etsy.
3. Line dry when you can
I live in a condo so I understand that line drying is not always feasible. Some items (like towels and jeans) also just never seem to come out as soft when they are completely line dried. That being said, I do use my ninja skills to dry some laundry on my patio. The dryer is the second biggest energy user in the house after the refrigerator so the more you can line dry the better.
4. Green your dryer routine
Because the dryer is the second biggest energy user I try to use it less often. I only run it as long as it takes to actually dry clothes rather than turning the knob to the max every time. I also do not use dryer sheets as they contain harsh chemicals. You can buy wool dryer balls that reduce drying time and static. Some people even put natural essential oils on them to make their laundry smell nice.
5. Only run full loads
This one is pretty obvious- the more often you run the washer, the more energy it uses. Wait until you have a full load to reduce the number of times you have to run your machines.
6. Use cold water when you can
90% of the energy used to run a washing machine is to heat the water. Whenever possible use cold water. For items like family cloth, towels, and cloth pads I would stick with hot.
7. Use an eco friendly stain remover
I was a devoted Spray and Wash user for years. This has probably been the hardest switch for me since I am really klutzy and spill stuff all of the time. There are natural stain sticks available on Etsy.
8. Avoid bleach- use the sun!
The sun does a great job “bleaching” whites and is green and completely free! I have found it to work better than bleach and it doesn’t degrade fabrics the way bleach does.
9. Upgrade to energy efficient appliances
When our washing machine died we upgraded to a front loading high efficiency machine. I really love it! Besides saving water and electricity, it also is more gentle on my clothes since there isn’t an agitator in the middle like my old top-loader. I also love all of the special settings. I get a lot of use out of the hand wash setting and it’s saved me from having to dry clean a lot of my clothes.
10. Avoid dry cleaning
Dry cleaning is one of the worst offenders. Perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene (PERC) is used in 85% of dry cleaners and is a known carcinogen. I try not to dry clean ANYTHING- I have 2 dresses that I dry clean now and that is it. My cashmere sweaters, merino wool sweaters, and delicate items are now washed in my washing machine using a gentle detergent on a hand wash cycle. I lay them flat to dry. My clothes smell better than when I dry cleaned them and my sweaters are actually softer.
Eco-friendly laundry is definitely a process- I feel like I am still not all the way there. Each new step, however, leads me to a healthier routine for me and my family. I really feel the effort is worth it.
How have you changed your laundry routine? Do you have any Eco-friendly tips of your own?