5 Tips for a Greener Laundry Room
What you do in your laundry room has a big impact on the planet -- and your clothes.
A few quick facts:*
- About 75-80% of our clothing's lifecycle impact (wear and tear) comes from washing and drying.
- After the refrigerator, your dryer uses the most energy in your household.
- The 400 average annual loads of laundry consumes 13,500 gallons of water.
So how can you change things up to reduce wear and tear on your clothes, save energy and protect the environment?
Here are our top five tips for a greener laundry room:
With a smart laundry room design, you can use cabinets to store your basic washing ingredients and a hanging rod to dry shirts and delicates.
1. DIY Detergent
Make your own safe and non-toxic laundry detergent!
For one batch of homemade laundry detergent, grate up a bar of hand soap (2 cups) and add 1 cup of Arm & Hammer washing soda.
Then add 1 cup of Borax, which is a compound used in cleaning materials. Mix it all together.
Use 1-2 tablespoons per load of laundry.
2. Eco-friendly Products
Or, just buy eco-friendly laundry detergent.
Avoid conventional detergents that contain phospates; when washed down the drain, those chemicals can have harsh, detrimental effects on ecosystems and marine life.
Look for products from brands like Method, Biokleen, and Seventh Generation that are biodegradable and phosphate-free, as well as being made from natural ingredients (vs. petroleum).
3. Energy Efficient Washing Machines
Switch to an EnergyStar front-loading washing machine in your laundry room.
If you're not in the market for a new machine quite yet, there are other washing habits you can change.
Use cold water whenever possible, and never wash a partial load of laundry. Wait that extra day until you get a full load.
4. Decrease Dryer Time
Use your dryer wisely. I know it's hard to go cold turkey with machine drying, so try to alternate it with line-drying.
Also, clean your lint filter often, as that increases efficiency and shortens drying time.
5. Non-toxic Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are just as toxic as detergent. Researchers have found that dryer vents can emit more than 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets are used.
There are plenty of alternatives out there, ranging from Mrs. Meyers, which comes in garden-fresh scents like basil, lavender, lemon verbena, and geranium, to Nellie's All Natural Dryer Balls, PVC-free dryer balls that not only replace fabric softener but also work to relax fibers and create less lint and fewer wrinkles. Added bonus: They reduce drying time by up to 25% and last for nearly 2 years.
IT'S NOT HARD - AND IT MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE!
Following these steps for a greener laundry room, you can save up to $550 in operating costs (with an EnergyStar washer) and cut down your carbon emissions by 99 pounds per year (by running only full loads).
Check out our laundry room and storage designs to get inspiring ideas for your home!
If you've found these tips helpful, please share them with family and friends using the links below!
* According to research by Proctor, Marks & Spencer and EnergyStar.
Ginny Snook Scott
Ginny Snook Scott is the chief design officer at California Closets. She has over 25 years experience with California Closets and has helped over 1,000 clients create custom closets and organize their home. Connect with Ginny on Google+.