Doing Laundry the Green Way

Caring for your clothes can feel like the least eco-friendly thing you do. Washing and drying consume a lot of resources — water for washing, natural gas or fossil fuel–powered electricity for drying. But you can choose Earth-friendly methods for laundry day:

  • Wash your laundry in cold water and always rinse in cold. Up to 90 percent of the energy clothes washers use goes to heating the water, so use cold water and detergents designed for it.

    Stick to hot water for sheets and towels, particularly if someone in the family has been ill. Only hot water kills hangers-on such as germs and dust mites.

  • Do the laundry only when you have a full load. When you wash in cold water, you can put colors together without the risk of color bleeding.

  • Don’t overload the washing machine. If you do, the clothes won’t move around freely enough to get clean, and you’ll end up having to wash them again.

  • Line-dry your clothes. The clothes dryer uses a significant amount of energy and can actually shorten the life of your clothes because of shrinkage and other wear and tear on the fabric. Hang your clothes on a clothes line or drying rack to save energy and your clothes.

    Line-drying cuts costs and preserves your clothes.
    Line-drying cuts costs and preserves your clothes.
  • Use the dryer efficiently. Dry full (not partial) loads only, and dry your clothes for the minimum time possible. Stop the dryer just before the clothes are completely dry and either hang them up or iron them to finish drying. A modern dryer may cut the heat for you.

  • Don’t steam iron. If you have to iron, do it when clothes are still slightly damp or dampen them with a spray bottle. A steam iron uses energy heating up the water in its tank.

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