In the Apartment Homesteading series I listed a few ways to save some energy, money and time on laundry. I am going to roll those all into one nice little package right here for you.
If you really want to get down and dirty saving a lot of money and energy on laundry, nothing is more energy-efficient than labor you do your self! I have hand washed diapers in my bath tub, and used a “camp” washing “machine” consisting of a bucket, a plunger, and arm muscles. Both work very well with VERY little detergent. It just takes your sweat and determination to do the work. The camp bucket set up will cost you about $10 to set up and save you $50 a month on gym membership.
So you are not hard-core enough to wash your own clothes in a home depot bucket? Neither am I. Here are some ways you can save some energy and money using your washing machine.
- Get a High Efficiency (HE) front loading washer. These are the most efficient machines out there using an average of 8 gallons of water per load instead of the average 15 gallons for standard washers. At one load of laundry a day you are saving 2,555 gallons of water per year. Want to know how much money you would save annually on electricity? Check out this cool tool so you can find the exact numbers relevant to your situation.
- Wash with cold water. You can save an average of $100 per year washing your laundry in cold water. The only reason you will want to use warm or hot water in your cycles is if you have a grease or oil stain in your clothes that you are trying to get out, or if you are washing cloth diapers. Otherwise cold water will work great to get your clothes nice and clean.
- Wash full loads of laundry. In older (non HE) machines the washer will fill to the pre selected size of the load (large, medium, small) without considering how many clothes are actually in the wash. HE machines have a sensor to sense how big the load is and only fills the washer with enough water to get the load done. Most people separate their lights from their darks, but I say throw them all in the washer! As long as your clothes have been washed a time or two they wont leak color. If you feel like your grandmother is rolling in her grave at you considering washing your colors and whites together, consider combining loads with your children, spouse, room-mate, neighbor, whoever to get a full load.
- Hand wash delicate. I am sure most people never have a full load of panties and bras, and these pretty pieces of underwear are so expensive and so delicate you don’t want to wash them through the washer anyway. Just get a gentle hand washing detergent, or use a very little bit of what you use for your regular clothes, and hand wash them, hang them to dry, and enjoy your eco-friendly prowess whenever you wear them.
- Don’t wash your sheets and towels often. You use your towel when you get out of the shower once you are all clean right? So you can just hang it up to dry on the towel rack and re-use it a couple of times right? Instead of washing sheets every week consider changing your sheets every two weeks or every month. Personally we usually do every two weeks in the summer because of the sweat, and every four in the winter. You can also wash sheets and towels together.
- Use the dryer sparingly. A lot of clothes and household items can be dried outside using solar power and a laundry line or drying rack.
- Use a dryer ball. Dryer balls are a safe, natural, non toxic way fluff your clothes, remove static, and reduce your drying time by 25%.
- If your dryer has one, use the moisture sensor. This can detect when your clothes are done drying and save you some energy.
- If your dryer does not have a moisture sensor stop the load while it is still damp and switch it to tumble only. The excess heat in the drum should be hot enough to finish drying your clothes.
- Proper dryer maintenance will save you a lot on energy cost. Empty your lint tray every load. “Don’t be lazy, it takes two seconds, just do it.” -My dad. Also, check your dryer vent occasionally and make sure it is not blocked. My dryer was having issues so we checked the vent and it was clogged with dog hair. Once we cleared it out the dryer worked like a charm!
- Use ec0-friendly laundry detergents without any of these nasty things. This might cost a little bit more than your big bag o’chemicals but you use a lot less, so the cost per load is usually comparable or less than what you are paying for the other stuff. I personally am allergic to most laundry detergents. I especially can not stand scent or dyes in my detergent. It makes me break out in a nasty rash. I use Charlies Soap for just about everything now since it is cloth diaper safe. I do still use Rockin’ Green when I can afford it, but Charlies works just fine. You can also make your own laundry detergent. Most eco-friendly detergents you will find are concentrated and low suds making them safe for use in HE washers as well.
There you have it! Some easy ways to save energy and money on laundry.
How do you make your laundry routine more eco-friendly?
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