An Eco-Laundry Room For The Green Consumer

What you do in your laundry room has a big impact on the planet -- and your clothes. According to studies by Proctor and Marks & Spencer, about 75-80% of our clothing's lifecycle impact comes from washing and drying them. The amount of energy it takes to heat the wash water and run the dry cycle, too, has a large impact on the environment. After the refrigerator, your dryer uses the most energy in your household. In terms of water use, the 400 average annual loads of laundry consumes 13,500 gallons of water (via EnergyStar). Below, five eco-friendly laundry ideas:


  1. Make your own laundry detergent to use in the laundry room. 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. You may have seen the "No Impact Man" use this recipe during his year of no environmental impact.
  1. 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).
  1. 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. (This is one of the laundry room efficiency ideas that is easiest to do, but has a big impact on your carbon emissions.)
  1. Use your dryer wisely. We 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.
  1. Dryer sheets are just as toxic as detergent. Most are made with tallow, or animal fat. 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.


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).

Your California Closets consultant may have even more ideas laundry ideas of how to "green" your habits and adapt your laundry room to your newfound eco-style.