Having a large family means having a lot of everything. A lot of love, a lot of laughter, a lot of chaos — and a lot of laundry. So much laundry. Whether a senior parent has moved in with you, an adult child has returned home for a while, or you’ve just welcomed a newborn addition, as your household grows, so does the seemingly endless pile of clothes, towels, and linens requiring sorting, washing, drying, and folding — before the cycle starts all over again. And with so much to do, it’s easy to overlook the environmental impact of doing a wash. But traditional laundry routines can tax resources and contribute to pollution. Consider:
Water: Washing machines, especially if they aren’t energy-efficient, use a tremendous amount of water. It’s estimated an average household consumes about 6,000 gallons of water every year. Imagine how much water a larger-than-average household uses.
Energy: Washing and drying machines are notorious energy guzzlers. Did you know that your dryer is your most energy-intensive appliance, aside from the fridge? By streamlining your laundry day, not only will you reduce waste and emissions, but your energy bill.
Chemicals: Many traditional laundry detergents contain chemicals such as phosphates that can pollute waterways and harm aquatic life.
Microplastics: Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that come mostly from clothing fibers, such as nylon, acrylic, and fleece, which are released into water systems when you wash your clothes.
The good news is that by adopting sustainable laundry practices, you can save money and reduce your environmental impact— no matter how large your family and how unwieldy their piles of laundry. Let’s cycle through a few eco-friendly laundry tips for big families.
Use a high-efficiency (HE) washing machine
Investing in an Energy Star-rated HE washing machine is a smart, environmentally responsible choice for large families. These machines are designed to use less water and energy compared to traditional models. They also have larger capacities, allowing you to wash more clothes in fewer loads.
Switch to an eco-friendly laundry detergent
Swap out your traditional laundry detergent for eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets. These plant-based sheets come pre-measured, meaning you don’t have to worry about using more detergent than necessary. Plus, no phosphates, parabens, or other harmful chemicals. And with budget-friendly subscriptions and free shipping, the detergent is delivered straight to your door. Sustainability shouldn’t be inconvenient.
Use cold water
Another eco-friendly tip is to use cold water for washing whenever possible. Most of the energy used in laundry goes towards heating the water, so opting for cold water can significantly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money on your energy bills. Plus, it’s gentler on your clothes, helping them last longer.
Use hampers to divide and conquer
To keep laundry chaos at bay, try using hampers to efficiently divide and conquer the laundry. Assign each family member or group member their own hamper for sorting their dirty clothes. You can even use color-coded hampers or labels to make it easy for everyone to know where to put their laundry. This will save you time and effort since clothes will already be pre-sorted, and you won’t have to spend time separating them.
Use natural remedies to tackle stains
Stains are the bane of every laundry day but keep these ingredients around and you’ll be able to combat them efficiently and in a way that doesn’t harm the environment (unlike many stain remover sticks). Use natural remedies like baking soda, vinegar, or lemon juice for common stains like wine, coffee, or grass. You can also invest in eco-friendly stain removers or make your own using our laundry sheets. And remember, always treat stains promptly for the best results.
Schedule like a boss
Laundry can pile up quickly, so it’s important to establish a laundry schedule that works for your household. Whether it’s a set day of the week or a rotating schedule, having a plan in place will help you stay organized and prevent laundry from becoming an overwhelming task. Get creative with a “Laundry Day” playlist or turn it into a dance party to make it more enjoyable.
Share the load
When doing laundry as a big family, it's essential to share the load — literally. Get everyone involved in the laundry process, from sorting and washing to folding and putting away. Rotate laundry responsibilities among family or household members to ensure everyone takes turns. This not only shares the workload but also teaches responsibility and accountability. You can create a rotating schedule where each person has a designated laundry day or week, or you can switch roles every month to keep it interesting.
Avoid dry cleaning
If a garment needs to be cleaned professionally, instead of taking it to be dry cleaned, see if you can opt for “wet cleaning” instead. Traditional dry cleaning uses chemicals like perchloroethylene, which can be harmful to the environment. Wet cleaning avoids the use of such solvents, instead relying on water and biodegradable detergents to clean delicate items.
Optimize drying methods
If you’re trying to be more sustainable at home, we recommend air drying your clothes whenever and wherever possible. You can hang your clothes to dry on the line or purchase drying racks that can be used indoors, on patios, or wherever is most convenient. If you are using a dryer, use an energy-efficient setting and, even though you’re doing laundry for the whole family, remember not to overstuff the dryer as this slows down the drying time. It’s better to dry larger loads in separate cycles to optimize drying efficiency and save energy.
Master the art of folding
With a big family or group, folding laundry can feel like a never-ending task. But no worries — we have some laundry folding hacks that will upgrade your wash day routine! Invest in folding boards to help you fold clothes uniformly and quickly. You can also get creative with folding techniques like the KonMari method or rolling clothes to save space and make it easier to find what you need.
These laundry hacks for large families are sure to help optimize your weekly routine. And while you are implementing these, be sure to go to SaltyLama and choose from Floral, Fresh Linen, and Fragrance Free to find the perfect scent for your clan’s clothes.