Go Green to Save Green: Laundry tips and tricks
Today’s post is a small post about something that is a very big part of my life with four kids: laundry! It’s estimated that the average home in the United States does 400 loads per year. That’s more than a load a day! There are so many things you can do to save money when doing laundry, I’ll just highlight a few:
- Wear clothes more than once! Unless you’re out plowing the back 40, or have sticky toddler fingers touching you all the time (ahem, like some of us), chances are your clothes are not dirty after wearing them only once.
- Line Dry as much as possible. I have two drying racks and three clotheslines set up in my basement (I do not dry outside because of allergies). I can (and often have to) line dry up to four loads of laundry at once. I use our gas dryer (cheaper than electric) to fluff the clothes a little after they’ve dried to soften them up and take out some wrinkles. Not only will this save money on gas/electricity costs, you’ll also save your clothes. Think about it, what’s in the lint trap? That’s your clothes slowly disintegrating from the heat of the dryer. I’ve handed down baby clothes that all three of my girls wore repeatedly and was told by the appreciative momma they still looked (almost) new. That’s because they had never been put in the dryer for more than a few minutes.
- Speaking of lint, clean that lint trap if you do use your dryer. Dryers become less efficient when the lint trap is covered, not to mention the fire hazard it poses!
- When the time comes to replace your water-sucking ancient top-loading machine (because replacing before it needs to be replaced is not an eco-friendly idea!), invest in a front-loading washing machine. According to the Energy Star website, washing machines made before 1999 use more than 4 times the energy of today’s models. You could save more than $135 each year on your utility bills. You’ll also reduce your water bill, too, because front loaders use appx. 14 gallons of water per load while older models and top loaders use twice as much!
- Wash full loads, but don’t overfill. Goes without saying that washing a few favorite things wastes more water/gas/electricity than doing a full load of laundry. But pack the drum too tight and not only will your clothes not get clean, you could damage the machine.
- Stop buying high-maintenance clothes whenever possible. If you can’t avoid it, reconsider the “dry clean only” tag; many items can be hand-washed or washed in the delicate cycle at home.
- Vinegar is the only fabric softener you need. 1/4 – 1/2 cup to you fabric softener part per load. And no, your clothes do not come out smelling like vinegar!
- Wash with cold water. Hot water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes. Switching to cold water can save the average household more than $40 annually (with an electric water heater) and more than $30 annually (with a gas water heater).
- Use less detergent. Do you fill the cap or scoop because that’s what it says to do on the box of detergent? Have you experimented with using less detergent to see if you clothes get clean with a smaller amount? Unless my kids have made mud pies, I find that I use a fraction of the detergent recommended by the manufacturer (of course–they want us to use it up and buy more product!)
- Most commercially-made detergents are made with petroleum as a base. Yup, that’s right–oil. Switch to to plant-based detergents like Method, Mrs. Meyers, Caldrea, Ecover, BioKleen and more. Many times these can be found for the same price (or in the case of Method, even cheaper!) Or make your own (I’ll have more on that topic next week)
Be sure to check out Green Bay Consumer every day this month for more tips, tricks and resources to help you save the earth and save your pocketbook.