Laundry is one of the number one ways that a typical household uses up resources. From hot water heating for washing, to gas or electric for drying, our laundry appliances can really impact the carbon footprint of our households. In addition, laundry detergent can add chemicals to the environment, and treatment of the water that is expelled from the washing machine adds energy costs and lessens resources.
There are ways to reduce much of this impact without resorting to never washing our clothes again.
The first thing you can do is to examine your clothes wearing habits. Do you automatically put an item of clothing into the hamper to be washed even if it isn’t really dirty? Do you really need a new towel every day or could you reuse it before washing? Extending the wear time of your clothes will reduce your washing time.
Consider capturing your gray water or implementing a gray water system. A gray water system can use washing machine water for non-drinking use, such as watering your lawn or garden. Of course, you should take the next step and use the right detergents.
Phosphate-free or green detergents can go a long way to protecting the environment. Just think of how many times a week you wash your laundry. If you use conventional laundry detergents, then each time that you do a load, you are releasing all sorts of chemicals into the water stream. Even standard bleach can affect your respiratory health.
Aim to do all or at least most of your laundry in cold water. You can still get your clothing clean, especially if you allow the washer to fill before adding detergent and then allowing your laundry to soak. Most washing machines have a soak feature as part of their options.
Finally, hang your wash outdoors or in whenever possible. It takes about a dollar’s worth of energy to dry a large load. If you don’t like the feeling of clothes that have been hung to dry, then first hang your clothes and then air fluff them int he dryer for just a few minutes.