Green Tips for Doing Laundry

Even if you don’t use a high-efficiency frontload machine, there are ways to make doing laundry more green and use less energy. First, you save energy from your hot water heater if you wash all your laundry in cold water. Regardless of the suggested temperature on washing machines or detergents, your laundry will be just as clean if you use cold water for everything.

Second, hang your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer. You can hang your clothes indoors in the winter and outside in warm weather, if your neighborhood allows you a clothes line. (If not, maybe you should petition your neighborhood association to think green and relax this rule.)

If you don't like the chemicals in laundry detergent, the greenest solution, it seems, is making your own. If you’re not thrilled about shaving soap, which is part of the homemade recipe, a great compromise is to buy a trusted Earth-friendly brand.

You should also choose dry powdered detergent rather than liquid. Here's the logic: Liquid detergent — of course — contains mostly water. It seems absurd to weigh down the cleaning agents with water when you're inevitably adding it when you turn on the washing machine. And there's a significant energy cost to shipping that heavy jug from the manufacturer to your neighborhood supermarket. Although the powder version travels, too, you can rationalize that it doesn't include a redundant ingredient.

The other reason to choose powder: It comes in a cardboard box — which you can drop off for recycling at a number of locations. The petroleum-based plastic bottles, on the other hand, are more of a challenge to recycle, especially if they're not the most commonly recycled plastics #1 and #2.

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