We bathe in it, burn in too much of it, miss it when it’s gone, and seek shade from it when it returns. Yet many of us still don’t make the most of the sun. After all, it’s one of the planet's most sustainable and plentiful energy sources. And as we all try to move away from fossil fuels to reduce our collective carbon footprint, the sun’s power to help us with chores both big and small becomes obvious — just as it has throughout human history for thousands of years. So, save on your electric bill and let your dryer take a rest this season. The sun has you covered. Here’s how to harness the sun to help with laundry and other household chores.
Use the sun to dry your laundry
From your bedding and towels to your sundresses and swimsuits, make use of the sun's natural heat and gentle breeze by air-drying your clothes. Set up a clothesline in your backyard or hang a drying rack near a sunny window or balcony. By allowing your clothes to dry naturally, you save energy — and money — while infusing your garments with the summer aroma of the outdoors. Like your ancestors, embrace the joy of seeing your laundry dance in the sun and breeze. Then, revel in the knowledge that you're reducing your carbon footprint with each sun-dried load.
Other benefits of air-drying your laundry in the sun
Looking for more reasons to dry your clothes in the sun? Sunlight, or specifically the UV rays in sunlight, can kill viruses and bacteria. So, if someone in your household has been sick or you want to do a deep clean on your household fabrics, whether that’s your living room curtains or the thick blankets in your bedroom, air-drying is an excellent option.
Things to remember
Too much sun can bleach material, so to avoid discoloring your garments don’t leave your fabrics outside for too long. If they’re in direct light on a hot day, thoroughly drying your clothes should take two or three hours.
Consider solar-powered appliances
From televisions to fridges, homeowners are increasingly powering their appliances with renewable solar energy, including washing machines. If you’re interested, you can invest in a solar-powered washing machine — exactly as it sounds — or a portable solar generator that will store the sun’s energy and power your washer any time of the day or night, cloudy or clear.
Let the sun brighten your whites
Speaking of sun bleaching, putting your whites out in direct sunlight can help brighten them! This strategy can remove old stains, brighten, and refresh your whitest garments and fabrics.
Wash your whites as usual and add some fresh lemon juice during the washing stage for an extra boost. When your clothes are clean, take them out onto the clothing line facing direct light. If you can’t hang your clothes on a line, lay them out as flat as possible. You can lay them on white fabric, a drying rack, or even clean concrete.
You can spray the most challenging stains with a bottle of lemon juice with water. The lemon juice works with the sun to brighten your clothes faster.
Again, remember not to leave them too long — and especially not an entire day. Too much exposure can weaken the fabric, so they should be ready after a couple of hours.
Open your windows to kill germs inside
The UV rays in sunlight kill germs and bacteria. That’s why opening your blinds and windows can be a great way to freshen up your home. It’s as easy as letting direct light penetrate any surface and allowing nature to take its course. UV light has been proven to be a natural disinfectant. For decades, sunlight has been used to clean drinking water and naturally eradicate harmful organisms in hospitals and medical facilities. Let it do the same for your home this summer season!
Let it light up your outdoors
If you want to illuminate your garden and pathways at night, put up solar-powered lights, which charge during daylight hours and burn bright throughout the night. Not only are they more eco-friendly than traditional lights powered by electricity, but by installing them, you’ll reduce your energy bill, too.
Use the sun to heat your water
Heating your home’s water consumes a lot of energy, so you may want to consider switching to a solar water heater — or solar domestic hot water system, as they’re also known as. These systems include storage tanks and solar collectors, work year-round, and run on the sun’s rays. Once incorporated into your water heating system, they generate warm or hot water much more sustainably than traditional methods.
Let the sun cook your food
If you’re enjoying your meals outdoors during these summer months, consider investing in a solar oven rather than relying on traditional stoves, ovens, or grills. By harnessing sunlight to achieve high temperatures, these ovens let you cook without the environmental impact or pollution associated with electricity or gas.
Batteries not included — or needed
You’d be surprised at how many everyday devices can now run on solar power — from flashlights to remote controls. By harnessing the sun to charge your devices, you’ll end your reliance on disposable batteries.
Clean power for a clean outdoors
Keeping your outdoor areas and backyard clean and tidy, especially during summer hosting season, requires a lot of energy. Fortunately, you can trade in your electric pressure washers and lawn mowers for solar-powered alternatives. This way, you’ll be taking care of your own green space as well as the green space we all share.
Let in sunlight and fresh air after cleaning
Open your windows and doors to help generate a breeze to flush out any strong, lingering odors. The summer breeze will take care of it very quickly. Plus, a gentle breeze and sunlight can help dry a newly-mopped floor and freshen up your home in the most natural way. That means less time walking around on your tippy toes waiting for the floor to fully dry.
Don’t let the heat get you down. Summer is a great time to give your house a deep clean. Let those UV rays take care of bacteria, brighten your whites, and dry your clothes in a flash while considering what appliances and gadgets you can swap out for solar-powered alternatives. The sun is always around — why not use it?