I’m pretty done with the winter blahs and I’m feeling ready for a refresher. In lieu of warm spring winds, I’ll settle for the wafting aromas of Spring Fresh detergent emanating from my laundry room..
But, seriously, when I think fresh and clean, I also think being eco-friendly, and I’ve been trying out different tricks for each room of the house. The laundry room is no different. Let’s give eco-friendly laundry a shot.
The truth of the matter is that true “green” living isn’t really isn’t going to happen with our power-hungry washers and dryers; dryers rank second among household appliances as far as energy consumption goes (the first being the fridge). But if you want to cut back your carbon footprint a bit, do all of your laundry on a “cold” cycle to avoid heating water (this cuts out 90% of your washer’s energy use right there), and run your dryer on the most energy-efficient setting (and be sure to clean out the lint trap after each use for best performance–and to prevent fires).
If the clothes are still a bit damp when the cycle ends, let them continue to air-dry. I recommend laying sweaters out on a drying rack, anyway. It reduces the amount of time it would take the dryer to run on a typical load, and they’ll keep their shape better and avoid shrinkage. If the weather’s nice, line-drying is your best bet, if you have the time to manage it, and if you don’t get stuck in an Ohio spring deluge.
Reducing the number of loads you wash also goes a long way. Wait until the end of the week and run full loads instead of washing piecemeal throughout the week. Wear your jeans or pants more than once before washing them (I promise, unless you’re in the habit of wearing hot pink pants to work or school, no one will notice.) You could also try shutting off the water valve to the washer and unplugging the dryer between uses to save on extra energy flow to these appliances.
If you’re in the market for a new washer, the front-loading models tend to use far less water and are rated as more energy-efficient. Dryers are now being rated by Energy Star as well, so be sure to check for their label.
Let’s talk detergents. In my previous post I talked about my kids’ eczema and how I was on the hunt for free-and-clear detergents that would still clean well. I settled on detergent pods from Cleancult. We get refills every two months in recyclable packs and they seem to work well. Any plant-based detergent pod in plastic-free film is a good option. See what works for you.
I’m also a fan of the plastic-free stain remover bars from etee. Rub these onto stains before washing, perhaps with a bit of water, and the stains just fade away. I’ve tried them on grass, blood, and chocolate stains. So far they’re winners!
We also made the switch from chemical-laden dryer sheets to wool dryer balls. This is truly one of those super simple, no-brainer eco-friendly switches that anyone can make today and not notice a bit of difference. For just a few bucks, you can get a set of dryer balls and just keep them in the dryer, out of sight, out of mind. They bounce around with your clothes and keep the static down. Plus they last for something like a thousand loads. Just shake out pantlegs before taking them out of the dryer to find any stowaway balls!
I’ll be honest, I hate ironing, so I refuse to do it anymore. I only buy wrinkle-free or iron-free clothes for myself and my kids. This not only saves time but also eliminates the need for an electric iron (which can also damage your threads over time). If you hang clothes up immediately after washing, it reduces the need for ironing anyway.
I hope some of these tips are helpful! But for real, wash on the cold cycle and switch to wool dryer balls. Your utility bills and dry, winter-worn skin (not to mention Planet Earth) will thank you.