On average, residential washing machines use around 41 gallons of water per load and dryers contribute to about 6% of a home’s average energy use. Some scented liquid detergent and dryer sheets also emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Consider the environmental impacts when an average American household washes around 300 loads per year! Water use, energy use, and hazardous chemicals begin to add up.
Where to Begin?
If the process seems daunting, don’t worry! Some easy steps to begin with include washing your clothes less, and washing in cold water.
Washing less means you should only wash your clothes when they’re truly dirty. If you can wear something more than once before throwing it in the dirty pile, do it!
Washing in cold water easily saves energy, as hot water heating is responsible for roughly 90% of your machine’s energy! Not only is it better for the environment, it may be better for your clothes as well!
Air-Dry Your Laundry
Whenever possible, air-drying laundry can be an easy way to reduce energy consumption and household emissions. It can also save you money and prolong the life of your clothing!
Reducing dryer usage also reduces chances of fires, as dryers cause over 15,000 house fires yearly.
Air-drying can be done outside or indoors. All you need is a clothesline, drying rack, and clothespins!
Use Sustainable Laundry Products
Buying laundry products (such as detergent or fabric softener) with minimal packaging is another great way to support an eco-friendly laundry routine. Buying products in bulk or in concentrated form is also beneficial! Conventional detergents can be harmful, especially for our water systems, where they eventually wind up.
If you choose to use a dryer, consider switching your dryer sheets to wool dryer balls! This natural, zero-waste alternative can be used time and time again.
Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances
While this is a more costly option, when it’s time for a new washer or dryer, consider investing in one that is ENERGY STAR® certified.
Front-loading ENERGY STAR® washing machines use 18-25 gallons of water per load, typically. That’s a big difference compared to the average 41 gallons! Using an energy-efficient appliance can significantly help reduce energy and water costs.
Now that you know how to develop an eco-friendly laundry routine, which steps will you take first?
Information from the EPA, Green America, Maytag, National Park Service, and Tree Hugger.