Spring Cleaning: Hang Up Your Laundry Habits Spring Cleaning: Hang Up Your Laundry Habits
The Planet

Spring Cleaning: Hang Up Your Laundry Habits

by Jillian Anthony

April 9, 2012

This challenge is in partnership with Levi's ®

Don't let your dirty laundry be a dirty environmental habit. A single load in the washing machine can use up to 40 gallons of water. You can't stop washing your clothes altogether (this is, after all, spring cleaning month), but you can follow a few tips to save water, choose greener products, or even go low-tech:

  • Only wash full loads and use the water-level settings to avoid waste. Keep in mind that the permanent press cycle uses extra gallons of water for a second rinse.
  • Your home’s second-biggest energy suck is water heating, after space heating. To help save energy, wash your clothes on cold whenever possible. Check out more of the U.S. Department of Energy’s green laundry tips here.
  • If you do your wash at a laundromat, believe it or not, you’re actually ahead of the game. Most industrial-sized washers and dryers use energy more efficiently. For small mid-week loads, try a low-tech alternative. Hand wash or buy a portable, hand-crank washer. The egg-like module can handle five pounds of laundry. Some people even do their laundry in industrial-sized salad spinners. 
  • If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, be sure to buy a front-loading, energy-saving one. They usually hold larger loads and can save as much as 7,000 gallons of water per year. That’s enough to fill up a few swimming pools. Look for the Department of Energy’s Energy Star label, which only appears on “appliances and home electronics that meet strict energy efficiency criteria established by the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” These machines use half the water and more than a third less energy than a regular washing machine.
  • Be sure to take a closer look at the products you’re using. If they don’t feature the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s seal of approval, they may be bad for the environment. Only products that use the safest form of all chemicals included in the product earn the EPA’s logo. Check out the full list of approved products and commit to purchasing them once your current product runs out. 
  • Purchase a dryer with moisture sensor technology that turns off the tumble when your clothes are dry. Even better, leave the dryer out of the equation when you can, and hang your clothes out to dry in the fresh, spring air. Project Laundry List has an FAQ for getting started. This will vastly extend the lifetime of your clothing, save you money on your energy bill, and do the earth some serious good.

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Spring Cleaning: Hang Up Your Laundry Habits