When it comes to living green, we like to embrace the small steps method. Little changes can add up to big differences. We don’t think green is an all or nothing lifestyle; instead we think of it as a journey where each person does what they can and makes little changes and improvements along the way. Maybe the disposable shopping bags and incandescent bulbs went first, or maybe it was making the switch to locally grown organic produce. Yesterday, it was one little thing at a time; today there’s organic cotton sheets on the bed, a recycling bin in the kitchen and a compost bin on the counter. What will it be tomorrow? How about green laundry?
No, we’re not just talking about using environmentally-friendly cleaning products, although that’s a great place to start! And we’re not just talking about getting energy star rated appliances. Nope. We’re talking about little things you can do differently to make your laundry room a greener place to be. All without giving up clean, fresh laundry.
Start by washing cold for most loads; there are very few things that need a hot wash, and your clothing will last longer because of it. Wash only full loads and use the lowest water setting possible, or if your washer is equipped with an “eco” setting, use it.
Over time, soap, lint and other gunk builds up. Give your machine a good cleaning to keep it running in tip top shape. Dig out that owner’s manual and see what sort of maintenance you should be performing and look up “filters”. Yes, your washer probably has one. Give yours a good scrub. While you’re at it, schedule in regular maintenance washes – that means no laundry, hot water and a detergent that won’t leave behind residue (try about half a cup of baking soda instead for a greener choice). This routine maintenance will keep your machine fresh and free of mold, bacteria and other unpleasant things.
Soaps and Stuff
Want to go DIY? There are dozens of recipes for eco-friendly laundry soap out there. If that’s not your thing, then look for a laundry soap that is labeled eco-friendly, low suds, and biodegradable. Check the EPA’s Safer Product list for specific brands and more information. You can skip the chemical soup of fabric softeners by just adding an ounce of bicarbonate of soda along with your detergent. Skip the bleach in favor of the far-friendlier hydrogen-peroxide-based whiteners and brighteners out there, and you’re on your way to a very green load of laundry.
The greenest choice is to line dry everything, but if that’s just not possible, try these tips to help reduce the impact of your clothes dryer.
- Dry several loads back to back to take advantage of residual heat
- Use the lowest heat setting possible
- Keep your lint trap clean
- Don’t forget to clean inside the dryer, and all vents to keep things running efficiently
- Don’t over dry your clothes and remove them while still warm to prevent wrinkles