You know how it is: one day all of your clothes are clean and folded, and the next day, you’re buried under a mountain of dirty laundry.
For many of us, laundry is a chore we don’t think much about until we have to. And creating an eco-friendly laundry routine may seem like an insignificant way to reduce waste.
Can something as simple as the way you wash clothes make a difference to the planet?
The answer is a resounding yes!
Why is an eco-friendly laundry routine important?.
The average family washes about 300 loads of laundry per year. And you may be surprised how many resources just one load of laundry can use.
Doing laundry makes up about 16% of the average household’s water use. In older machines, one load of laundry can take up to 45 gallons of water. By comparison, high-efficiency machines use between 15-30 gallons per load.
And, your dryer may be one of your home’s main energy culprits. It often uses more energy than any other appliance, with refrigerators coming in second place.
Since laundry uses so much water and energy, every load counts. Luckily, making your laundry day better for the planet doesn’t have to be time-consuming or hard.
How to Save Energy & Water in the Laundry Room
We know you already have a lot on your plate, so these simple tips will help you make a positive change without adding extra hassle to your routine.
1. Wash Less Often.
Do you toss your clothes in the hamper every time you wear them? If so, you’re not alone.
There are some things that may need to be washed after each wear, like socks or activewear. But, for most clothes, washing less often can be a good thing.
First, washing your clothes less frequently helps them last longer. Every wash wears clothing fiber down, so you can extend your clothing’s life by washing only when needed. Second, you save water and energy by getting more use in between washes.
To help cut down on laundry, you can spot clean clothing with water and some mild soap like Castile.
2. Wash Full Loads.
Every load you wash uses water and electricity, even tiny ones. You can have a more eco-friendly laundry day by aiming for a full load whenever you wash. That way, you’re using each wash cycle more efficiently.
This doesn’t mean you need to stuff your washer. Over-filling can make it harder for your clothes to get clean. For top-loading machines, a good rule of thumb is to fill the drum no more than two-thirds of the way. If you have a front-loading machine, you can fill it closer to four-fifths or 80% full.
Washing full loads doesn’t just save water and energy, it can also help you save time. Instead of taking care of partial loads here and there, you can tackle everything at once.
3. Opt for HE Equipment When Possible.
If it’s time to replace your washing machine, consider looking for an HE option. HE (High-Efficiency) washers are specially designed to use fewer resources with an average of 25% less energy and 33% less water than traditional top-load washers.
HE machines are also designed to use less soap which helps shrink your carbon footprint further.
4. Use Cold Water.
When you’re starting a load of laundry, you can save energy by selecting the cold setting. One study found that about 60% of Americans wash their clothes with warm water, but using cold water is the most environmentally friendly way to wash your clothes.
First, around 75% of the energy used for laundry goes to heating water. So by using a cold wash, you can cut down the energy you use for each load.
Second, washing clothes in cold water helps them last longer. Warm or hot water can shrink or fade clothing. Since cold water is more gentle on fabric, your garments will hold their shape and color better.
5. Choose an Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent.
When it comes to laundry soap, there are countless options on the market. Unfortunately, most of them are anything but sustainable. Many conventional detergents use harsh chemicals that can pollute waterways and irritate sensitive skin.
Plastic-bottled laundry soap also contributes to pollution. And since it’s packaged in bulky, heavy jugs, it takes more space in shipping trucks. This adds to transportation pollution by creating harmful emissions.
Luckily, there are eco-friendly laundry detergents that help you enjoy clean, fresh clothes without a negative impact on the planet. One option is zero-waste laundry pods. These pods are made from gentle yet effective ingredients with compostable packaging, and no plastic waste!
6. Line Dry When Possible.
I have fond memories of my grandma’s clothesline. The laundry smelled clean and fresh, and watching it blow in the breeze was relaxing.
Line-drying your clothes is one of the best ways to create an eco-friendly laundry routine and it can even help you cut down your electric bills. When you let your clothes air dry, you increase their useful life — line-drying is much more gentle on clothes than being tumbled a hot dryer.
If you have outdoor space, you can hang your clothes outside in warm weather. Otherwise, you can use a drying rack indoors. Just make sure to choose an area with good ventilation.
7. Use Your Dryer Wisely.
When line-drying isn’t an option, you can use your dryer more efficiently by trying to:
- Fill your dryer, but don’t overstuff it. This way, your clothing has space to tumble and dry more quickly.
- Separate heavy and lightweight items into separate loads. Light fabrics like t-shirts and bed sheets dry faster than heavyweight fabric like towels. Separating these helps you avoid over-drying lightweight items.
- Clean the lint trap after each load. This lets air flow so your dryer can work effectively.
- Dry for less time, then add time if needed. This is another way to avoid over-drying, so you don’t waste time or electricity.
- Dry loads one after another when possible. Take advantage of the leftover heat from a previous load. Then your dryer won’t need as much energy to warm up.
- Add wool dryer balls to your laundry. Wool dryer balls create space in your dryer and let air flow so your laundry dries faster. They also help naturally soften your clothes without any chemicals or additives.
Using these dryer hacks will help you save energy while still enjoying clean, soft clothes.
Keeping the Environment (and Your Clothes) Clean.
These ideas don’t take much extra time or effort, but they can help you create an eco-friendly laundry routine that works for you.
The next time laundry day rolls around, try one (or two!) of these tips. You can climb every (laundry) mountain and take care of the planet too.