Wash in Cold Water:
Last year we challenged ourselves to conserve energy and reduce our carbon footprint. One way we came out big was in the laundry room, believe it or not! I looked into many great sites on conserving energy and consuming less and I was surprised I could make such small changes for a big impact. For example, did you know heating water to do laundry is one of the largest users of energy in a typical home. My first response was, well it won't kill germs on things like towels if I wash them in cold water- wrong. It gets clothes just as clean as hot water, while using less energy and money, and preserving fabric color. No Brainer! Energy Star states that almost 90% of the energy consumed by a washing machine goes to heating water. That's a huge percentage! Each household that makes the switch to cold-water washing eliminates about 1,600 pounds (sign me up for that weight loss program!) of carbon dioxide emissions a year, according to the Sierra Club. Now we don't use any warm water to wash clothes, and we wait until we have a completely full load before starting, which in my home means only doing laundry once every two weeks!
I love this eco-friendly hamper from Crate and Barrel's The Land of Nod
Don't Use Traditional Fabric Softener:
Although they may make your clothes feel soft and smell fresh, fabric softener and dryer sheets are some of the most toxic products around. Fabric softeners are made to stay in your clothing for long periods of time. As such, chemicals are slowly released either into the air for you to inhale or onto your skin for you to absorb. Dryer sheets are particularly noxious because they are heated in the dryer and the chemicals are released through dryer vents and out into the environment. Here is a list of just some of the chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets:
Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
Limonene: Known carcinogen
A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
Here are some simple recipes you can use to replace traditional fabric softeners:
1/2 cup white vinegar
Add to rinse cycle in place of liquid fabric softener.
This helps remove static, the combination of cotton and polyester is often the culprit behind static cling,
try drying natural-fiber clothes separately from synthetic materials. Better yet, line dry synthetic clothing, as it tends to dry fairly quickly anyway.
Scented Dryer Sheets:
Place a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil on a piece of wet cloth and put it in the dryer with your clothes (lavender smells great) and toss in with wet laundry.
Skip the Dryer:
According to "Project Laundry List" It typically costs 30 to 40 cents to dry a load of laundry in an electric dryer and approximately 15 to 20 cents in a gas dryer. Over its expected lifetime of 18 years, the average clothes dryer will cost you approximately $1,530 to operate. When you skip using the dryer you are obviously saving money, and energy, and only adding about 6 minutes of your time to hanging clothes on the line. But here are some simple tips to make the most of your time. I always hang any synthetic clothing, like I pointed out above, it dries really quickly and most aren't designed to go in the dryer anyway. I put shirts and pants on a hanger and hang from my shower rod- and lay out delicate clothing on a drying rack in the bath tub. (You could do this anywhere really, but my bathroom is right next to my laundry room.) I hang all towels and rugs outside on our railing in the summer, and on doorknobs inside in the winter.
What about Ironing?
I don't iron, first of all its 2012, who still irons... Although my grandmother thinks it is a sin that we don't even own an iron, I'll tell you how to get around it. Towels can be really stiff and scratchy if they were hung outside. To combat this I toss all of the dry towels in the dryer with a wet cloth. You can add some essential oils to the cloth if you want them scented. It takes less than 5 min and they come out soft and fresh. The same stiffness can happen to jeans and t-shirts. Once these are dry I just mist them with a spray bottle of water. It loosens all of the wrinkles and they take about 10 min to air-dry. This is also a great tip for traveling. I always pack a mini spray bottle in my luggage, when I get to my destination I hang up any wrinkled items and give them a good spray.
A drying rack like this one is a great option for a small laundry room.