Laundry isn’t just a chore for you — it can be a grind for the planet, too. Consider that the average household does about 300 loads every year, consuming energy, flushing chemicals and microplastics into waterways, and devouring as many as 6,000 gallons of water annually. Once again, a routine task comes with consequences we normally never think about. The good news is that greenifying your laundry can be done much more easily than you might assume — saving you money on your power bill in the process, along with wear and tear on your wardrobe.
These eco-friendly laundry tips can be implemented almost immediately — from washing your clothes in cold water to using natural stain removers. Not only are they simple to follow, but they will ensure you’ll be making a meaningful impact and living a more sustainable life.
Switch to cold water
We’ve all been taught that heat equals clean — so why wouldn’t you wash your clothes in hot water? You might be surprised to learn cold water can be just as effective. And because turning up the temperature consumes about 90% of the energy used to clean your laundry, when you switch to cold water, you’ll be reducing both your electricity bill and carbon emissions. Best of all, you can apply this eco-friendly laundry tip any time — including on your next wash day.
Invest in a high-efficiency (HE) washing machine
Washing machines have come a long way over the years, and high-efficiency washing machines are the latest evolution toward green laundry. These machines are designed to use less water and energy than older models, making them a smart choice for the environmentally-conscious laundry-doer.
What helps them to be so efficient? One of the key features of high-efficiency washing machines is their ability to sense the weight of the load and adjust the amount of water and energy used accordingly. This means that you can wash your clothes knowing that you’re not wasting any unnecessary resources. Plus, these machines are typically front-loading instead of top-loading. Front-loaders use less water and are known to be gentler on your clothes.
So, the next time you need a new washing machine, consider investing in a high-efficiency model. Not only will you be doing your part to help the environment, but you’ll also enjoy the benefits of a machine that’s kinder to your clothes and more efficient overall. While it’s true it may be a bit more expensive initially, it will undoubtedly save you money in the long run.
Use eco-friendly detergent
You can’t upgrade your routine without also upgrading your detergent. And if you haven’t heard, liquid is out and eco-friendly laundry strips are in. These nearly weightless sheets come in biodegradable paper pouches rather than heavy plastic jugs. Not only will they save you cabinet space, but they come pre-measured, which means you’ll never have to second-guess how much detergent you need. Did we mention they are also certified biobased and kind to the environment? Yes, that too.
Wait to wash until you have a full load
Washing machines are so convenient, it’s easy to throw in a few clothes and run a cycle. However, washing small loads is much less effective than waiting until the clothes have started to pile up.
By running a regular-sized or larger load, you can save time, energy, and laundry detergent. That’s because when you wash too little, you waste detergent that can then build up on your clothes. If it can’t all rinse out with a small amount of laundry, it will stick to the fabric which can irritate your skin and damage the garment. So, what should you do if you really need to wash something? We recommend hand washing. You can do this in the bathroom, at your kitchen sink, or wherever is convenient for you. Once you have enough water, drop your laundry strip inside and let it dissolve before soaking and washing your clothes. Remember to rinse and repeat with each item.
Hang your clothes to dry
Cut the hot air. Hanging your clothes to dry rather than tossing them into the dryer is not only the perfect way to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle — it will save you money on your utility bills. Did you know that aside from your fridge, your dryer is the major energy hog of your household? Plus, the sun’s UV rays can also help further disinfect and freshen up your clothes. Even if you don’t live in a particularly hot or sunny place, some wind and time on a clothesline can do a lot to dry your clothes. And if the weather is really a spoiler, invest in an indoor drying rack.
Use a natural stain remover
If you get a nasty stain, you might want to turn to a stain stick or another chemical-based remover. Instead of using these products — which use a lot of plastic and can harm the environment — switch to natural alternatives. Try options such as baking soda or vinegar, often paired with laundry strips, to remove stains from your clothes. Check out this guide to removing tough stains in an eco-friendly way.
Avoid using fabric softeners and dryer sheets
Fabric softeners and dryer sheets are often unnecessary and can contain chemicals damaging to both the environment and your health. Did you know some fabric softeners contain quaternary ammonium compounds (quats), which can contribute to water pollution and have been linked to respiratory problems? Additionally, some dryer sheets are known to contain harsh fragrances that can trigger allergies, irritate sensitive skin, and contribute to greenhouse gasses. Instead, try using natural alternatives such as wool dryer balls or vinegar to soften your clothes.
It’s that easy to start living in a more sustainable way. Make a positive impact by slashing your carbon emissions in your laundry room. Don’t forget to spread the word! It takes community action to really make great changes for the environment.