10 Eco-Smart Laundry Tips
The washer and dryer you use may be cleaning out more than just your clothes. Shrink your energy bill and help the environment by making a more eco-friendly laundry cycle a part of your greener home.
Eco-smart laundry works on simple principles: use less energy in washing and heating water, and use cold water whenever possible. Also, choose environmentally preferred soaps and powders that are no more expensive, and just as good for your fabrics. Make a smarter, more environmentally friendly laundry a part of your cycle with these 10 eco-smart tips.
1. Don’t Overwash
Wait until you have a full load before running your washing machine. If you have to do a smaller wash, then remember to lower the water level. Also, stick to a short cycle. It’s usually sufficient for everything except heavily soiled items.
2. Avoid Over-Soaping
Don’t use any more detergent than you need to – it won’t make the clothes any cleaner. They’ll be more difficult to rinse properly, and you’ll waste soap and energy. For every 100 grams of detergent produced, about 1.3 kilograms of greenhouse gases are emitted. Also try to choose eco-friendly detergents and soaps that are petrochemical- and phosphate-free, or low in phosphate. Look for concentrated forms – they don’t contain the bulking agents of other products, are cheaper, and use less packaging.
3. Lower the Heat
Eighty per cent of the energy required for a hot wash is used to heat the water, so use a cold wash whenever you can. Check labels, as the low temperature works for most types of clothing. You’ll also cut your laundry’s emissions, as a hot wash generates 15 times as much greenhouse gas as a cold wash.
4. Know Your Washer’s Stars
Buy the most efficient washing machine you can find. Different models carry varying star ratings for both energy and water efficiency. The higher the number of stars, the more efficient the machine. Front-loading machines are generally more efficient than top-loaders, and can use 40 per cent less energy, a third less water, and half as much detergent.
5. Size Matters for Washers
Choose a washer capacity to fit your needs. For example, if you have a big family or regularly do large loads, you should select a larger machine. Multiple washes in a smaller-capacity washing machine use more energy and more water. Check how much water the machine uses per wash – the less the better. Look for models that allow you to vary water levels to match the size of the wash.
6. Skip the Drier When Possible
Whenever the weather permits, hang your washing outside to dry. Even on damp days, use a clothes horse placed under shelter or indoors rather than a dryer. Try shaking and smoothing out clothes before hanging them up to reduce the need for ironing.
7. Know Your Dryer
A mechanical clothes dryer is energy-hungry and generates significant amounts of greenhouse gases, so use it as little as possible. When you do, switch it to a medium setting rather than high. Know how much clothing per load your dryer can handle to avoid using unnecessary energy. Overloading will also crease your clothes.
8. Be Energy-Smart
Do separate loads of heavy and light items, as mixing them will increase the drying time. Also, do the energy grid a favour and run your laundry machines at night. You’ll help reduce demand for energy at peak time. Use your washing machine spin cycle to dry clothes as much as possible before putting them in the dryer too. It can cut greenhouse emissions by up to 2 kilograms per load.
9. Eliminate Inefficiencies
Organizing your laundry area can also help reduce waste. Make sure the room your dryer is in is well ventilated. Humidity can reduce the machine’s efficiency. Clean the lint filter in your machine after every load too. If it’s clogged it will use more energy and can be a fire hazard.