Between all the water and detergent, plus the electricity used to power the washer and dryer, doing laundry eats up a lot of resources. Most of us can’t just stop washing our clothes the way we might stop drinking bottled water or stop driving to places that are less than a mile away, but we can make the process a little gentler on the planet. Consider the options:
Wash in cold water. Unless your laundry is super, super dirty, cold water works just as well as hot–but doesn’t need to use electricity to be heated.
Use a natural detergent. This is a no-brainer, especially when you consider the fact that eco-friendly detergent isn’t much more expensive than regular. I’m a fan of Whole Foods’ store brand.
Find fabric softener in your pantry. 1/2 cup of baking soda per laundry load is my softener of choice, but 1/2 cup of vinegar works just as well–both are cheap and free of harsh chemicals.
Wash a full load. This might seem obvious, but everyone has had instances where they’ve put only a few items in the wash at a time (laundromat uses are probably the exception here–we let it pile up!).
Do it in the morning or evening. If you’ve got the AC running to keep your home cool all day, turning on the warm clothes dryer will only be counter-productive. Try drying clothes in the morning or at night when the temperature outdoors is lower.
Clean the lint trap. Yes, every time! It’s a little gross, but a dirty lint screen can cause a dryer to use up to 30% more energy.
Line dry. You don’t need a big backyard and a line full of clothespins–though that would be nice to have. Invest in an indoor drying rack, or drape garments on hooks, doorknobs, or over the shower door.