How to Green Your Laundry
Ironic as it may seem, washing our clothes clean may actually make our planet dirty. We consume so much energy and water to do our laundry, and the commercial detergents that we use contain hazardous chemicals that pollute the environment and affect our health.
Fortunately, in today’s world, it is possible to do green laundry. Solutions are available at the supermarket and from an eco-conscious common sense. Here are 7 eco-friendly ways to wash clothes:
1. Use laundry detergents made from natural ingredients. Most conventional laundry products found in the market today contain hazardous and toxic chemicals that create ecological damage. The next time you shop at your local supermarket, look for eco-friendly laundry detergents. These “green” detergents use plant-based, biodegradable ingredients and do not contain chemical fragrances or dyes. The moment you purchase an eco-friendly laundry detergent, you already are on the first step to getting green and clean laundry.
2. Sort laundry sensibly. To avoid staining and fabric damage, separate light colored clothes from dark colored clothes. Delicate fabrics must also be washed separately. Sorting will help make clothes live longer, a long-term benefit for you and Mother Earth. Close zippers and buttons to extend the life of your fabrics. Distribute items evenly for each load to effectively maximize wash and rinse cycles.
3. Wash full loads to maximize the use of water and energy use. A washing machine uses the same amount of energy for every wash cycle regardless of how full it is. A full load uses more water than one small load, but still less than two small loads. However, do not attempt to overload the washing machine. An overfilled machine will not wash well and just require longer wash and rinse cycles. It also helps to choose the proper water level when washing full loads. Set the water level appropriately for a small or medium load. Highly efficient models of washers or dryer are a good choice when doing green laundry because they let you save energy, water, and money in the long run.
4. Rinse laundry with cold water. Many people assume that washing clothes with warm or hot water makes the fabric a lot cleaner. This is wrong because hot water is actually tough on clothes—it wears and tears them sooner than you expect and makes colors fade faster. Heating the water also consumes 85 to 90 percent of the energy used to wash clothes. If you use warm or cold water for just two loads a week, you can prevent a big amount of pollution that’s roughly about 500 pounds a year for electric water heaters or 150 pounds for gas water heaters.
5. Use less detergent and choose a shorter wash cycle. Using more detergent does not necessarily get clothes cleaner; it just requires more water for rinsing. When you use less detergent on your clothes, there will be fewer residues on the fabric and thereby extending the life of the fabric. Remember that laundry detergents can do enough action in the first 10 minutes. Less detergent and shorter wash cycle will not only save you time and money; this simple formula will prolong the life of your threads, too.
6. Pretreat stains to save energy. If you think the stain is hard to eliminate, presoak the item. Fill the washing machine with water, detergent and oxygen bleach (never use chlorine bleach) and wait 20 minutes to 1 hour before starting the wash cycle.
7. Line dry your clothes on a sunny day. It saves energy and money. Your clothes will enjoy the natural way of getting dried up, too, as line drying extends the life of the fabric.
Green laundry is often possible wherever you are and whatever kind of living arrangements you have. A little effort to be more eco-friendly goes a long way—it saves time, energy, money and most importantly, the planet we all live in.
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