Simple Steps to Go Green in the Laundry Room

July 20, 2020 — by Richard Dawson

When it comes to living a sustainable lifestyle, the most common steps individuals take at home is having shorter showers, composting and reducing air conditioner use. There is one unassuming room of the house, however, where people tend to overlook their environmental impact – the laundry room.

laundry room

Laundry chores have a greater impact on the planet than you might think. In fact, about 80% of our clothing’s environmental impact comes from washing and drying as it takes so much energy to heat the wash water and run the dry cycle. One effective way to reduce your personal energy and water use, and therefore your environmental footprint, is adopting greener laundry habits. Here are a few steps you can take to make your laundry routine a bit greener.

Upgrade Your Washer for Energy Efficiency

eco laundry machine

If you have an old-model washing machine, chances are it uses twice as much water per load than modern machines. Front-loading machines featuring the Energy Star logo, for example, typically use between 68 and 95 litres per load compared to 150 litres for older machines. But whether or not you are ready to replace your current washing machine, there are things you can do to maximize energy-efficiency.

One way is to wash in cold water. About 90% of the energy used for washing clothes goes to heating the water, which can cost you around a hundred dollars extra every year. But if you think that hot water is crucial for having bright white clothes, don’t worry! With more and more detergents specialized for cold-water washing, your whites will still shine without the hot or warm water.

Next, make sure to wash only full loads of laundry. This ensures that your machine operates at peak efficiency. In case you can’t manage to fill your machine up, use the “load size selector option” (if you have one) to ensure that smaller loads use less water.

Hang it Out to Dry

hanging clothes on umbrella clothes dryer
source: @hillshomeliving

One of the easiest ways to save energy is to air-dry your clothes. Driers are one of the biggest energy hogs of any home. By leaving these appliances out of your laundry routine, you will be saving on bills as well as helping the planet. Furthermore, your clothes will last longer too, not being exposed to the tumbling, friction and heat of dryer machines.

From a folding wall mounted clothes hanger to wall clotheslines, ceiling wires, hoists, retractable, portable clothing hangers, there is a range of air-drying solutions to fit different needs and space. These low-tech pieces of equipment consist of a simple frame that keeps clothes separated while facilitating airflow. And for increased convenience, shop for a folding wall mounted clothes hanger that can be used both indoors and outdoors. A wall mounted clothesline requires only a modest amount of space, making it ideal for laundry rooms, bathrooms and poolside changing areas. Be sure to pay attention to the construction that best suits your household’s needs and laundry demands. Design, material, purpose and capacity are all features you will want to consider before buying a drying rack.

Use Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergents

eco friendly detergent

Most conventional detergents contain ingredients that aren’t good for you, your clothes or aquatic ecosystems where the dirty water we wash down the drain eventually ends up. Phosphates in conventional laundry detergents, for example, are known to cause algal blooms that negatively affect ecosystems and marine life.

To get more green laundry detergent, look for labels that indicate a product is readily biodegradable and phosphate-free and made from plant-and vegetable-based ingredients. And aside from being healthier for the planet, Eco-friendly detergents are also gentler on skin. When it comes to fabric softeners, these can be replaced by a cup of white vinegar added to the washer during the rinse cycle. Vinegar has the power to naturally balances the pH of soap, leaving the clothes soft and free of chemical residue.

Iron Only When Necessary

ironing shirts

Ironing is not only a tedious chore but it also consumes energy and can even deteriorate fabric. While you probably won’t mind skipping this boring activity, still, you don’t want to look ruffed, right? To avoid looking messy, simply hang clothes up immediately after the wash cycle is complete. The water still in the clothes will work with gravity to pull most wrinkles out. For wrinkle-prone clothing such as linen, skip the final spin cycle, which will leave even more water in the garment, creating more pull. Once the clothes are dry, fold them where you want creases to be, and place them under other clothes in the dresses – this will further help to press them.

Wear it More Than Once

Most article of clothing can be worn a couple of times before washing them. So, unless they are stained or stinky, consider using the same pieces of clothing more than once. Filling up the laundry basket at a slow rate will help you save water and energy. Before you run a load, be sure it will fill up the machine for maximum efficiency.