doing laundry sustainably

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simple

upgrade appliances

If you are able, investing in energy and water efficient appliances is the quickest way to see a change. They will pay for themselves in utility bills savings.

swap products

Non toxic detergents in biodegradable packaging instead of plastic reduce waste. Natural wool dryer balls instead of going through tons of disposable sheets. 

adjust behaviors

Waiting until you have full loads, using drying racks, and cold water settings can save energy, money, and even increase the life span and quality of your clothing.

It’s shocking how big an impact a simple household chore can make on the planet. Most modern washing machines use 15-45 gallons of water per cycle, and considering that fresh water is a finite resource, conserving as much as we can should be a priority. There are so many simple actions you can take to reduce the impact that your laundry has on the planet. Even better, you’ll save some money and keep your family healthy in the process. Take action to do laundry day, the sustainable way!

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laundry day the way

You don’t need to run out and buy brand new appliances to make your daily chores have less of an impact on the environment. Most changes can be done for free, and just require a change of settings and habits. Nearly every step of doing your laundry can be done in a way that is more beneficial to you, your clothes, your wallet, and the environment.

use cold water:

There are many benefits to washing your clothes in cold water. Of course, the big one: it’s a money saver! Using tap temperature water won’t cost you nearly as much money and energy as it would if you used hot or even warm water. Less energy used by your water heater; less money spent on bills. When using hot water to wash your clothes, 90% of the energy goes into the heating of the water, while the other 10% goes to powering the machine’s motor.  

On page 8 of this water and energy efficiency managment guide constructed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they provide an equation that helps you figure out exactly how much energy you save a year based on the percentage of hot water you use. 

The EPA states that “switching to cold water can save the average household as much as $40 annually.” Another benefit to washing with cold water is that it’s better for your clothes. In hot water, the dye used on certain fabrics may bleed, causing the rest of the clothes in the dryer to get dyed as well. Also, it goes easier on more gentle fabrics and won’t shrink your clothes.

only wash full loads:

Washing multiple small loads rather than a few bigger loads reduces the amount of water and energy required to get a load started and washed. This also goes for the dryer.

skip the dryer, use a drying rack:

By drying your clothes on a drying rack, it saves a significant amount of energy that would be used to heat the air in the dryer and to move the motor. You can find a wide variety of styles of drying racks on Amazon, such as this Heavy Duty Bamboo Drying Rack for $26.93. They are portable, so it allows you to have the option of drying your clothes inside or outside. Drying your clothes on a rack, rather than in a dryer, increases the lifespan on your clothes by reducing the amount of heat stress on the fabric, especially for your gentler fabrics like silk. However, this method does require more time.

use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets:

If you are in a time pinch or just prefer using your dryer, there’s still a way to be more environmental about it. Wool dryer balls do wonders for your clothes. Typically, they are fragrance-free and come in packs of 3-6, depending on their size and cost around $10-15. you can even make your own DIY dryer balls for free using and old sweater. They speed up the drying process by creating more movement in the dryer, causing the dry time to be much quicker. In addition, the movement and the material off the dryer balls reduces the amount of static and dryer damage on your clothes. Not only do they save you energy, but they reduce your laundry waste significantly! They are good for hundreds of cycles in the dryer, opposed to dryer sheets which are single use waste. 

use detergent with no plastic packaging:

The journey towards reduction of single use waste is a wave that is constantly building up. There are several brands that have hopped on this wave and now offer zero-waste detergent. There are many different kinds of these detergents; powders, strips, and even pods (like the ones you’d put in your dishwasher, except for your clothes). CleanCult sells a reusable glass container filled with 18 laundry tablets for $16.95, and refills for $9.95. There are even a few brands that offer detergent in reusable and refillable bottles! These brands also typically have natural ingredients in their detergents that are safer for you, your clothes and the environment.

Kealani Zayas

Kealani Zayas

Green Actioneers Intern
UCF Biology Student

references:

https://www.tumblewool.com/blogs/blog/the-benefits-of-wool-dryer-balls

 
https://www.breathingwasher.com/environmental-impact-of-washing-machines/

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