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11 Ways to Save Water and Energy While Doing the Laundry

When you have a family, you do a lot of laundry. Laundry uses a fair bit of water and energy, so I decided to share some tips to help you make it a more efficient process.

1. Don’t wash clothes more often than necessary.

Clothes aren’t dirty the instant you put them on. Something you’ve worn for only a short time during the day may not be dirty enough by the time you take it off to go into the laundry pile.

It can be especially hard to convince children that clothes don’t automatically go into the laundry. They may try a shirt on, immediately take it off and throw it into the laundry basket. If you have kids, work with them on that habit. Help them to see that it takes more time than that to get an outfit dirty.

Clothes are of course dirty if they look it or smell dirty. You can also go by the old “if it’s doubtful, it’s dirty” rule for those times you just aren’t sure.

2. Wash full loads whenever possible.

Most washing machines make the best use of water and energy when they’re running a full load. Do your best to wait for enough clothes or other items to make up a full load rather than wash a partial one.

If you need to wash a smaller load, make sure you adjust the water settings on your machine accordingly. There’s no reason to wash a small load of clothes with enough water for a full load.

3. Wash in cold water when possible.

Many times cold water will get your clothes clean enough. This saves on the energy required to heat the water. It’s also more gentle on your clothes. You should be aware that not all laundry detergents work well or dissolve properly in cold water. You can dissolve a powdered detergent in warm water and add it to the machine if necessary. If you’re getting a residue left on your clothes, you may need to continue washing in warm water or try a different detergent. I get good results with Country Save on my laundry. There are also detergents made to work well in cold water.

If cold water isn’t good enough, warm probably is. You should very rarely need to do a hot water wash.

Most modern washing machines always rinse using cold water because there is no reason to rinse the clothes out using hot or warm water.

4. Use an extended spin cycle in your washing machine.

Many washing machines offer an extended spin cycle, which removes more water from your clothes, so they will dry more quickly in the dryer. This takes less energy than running your dryer to get to a similar level of dryness, but you will still need to run them through the dryer to finish the job.

5. Sort clothes by drying time.

Some fabrics dry much faster than others. If you sort by drying time as well as by other factors, you can keep the load in the dryer for the right time for all the clothes, rather than overdrying the clothes that dry quickly.

6. Take advantage of the moisture sensor in your dryer if available.

Many dryers have a moisture sensor, and will dry your clothes only as long as it takes for the load to get dry. Use this option to avoid overdrying your clothes.

7. Remove clothes from the dryer immediately.

Taking the laundry out of the dryer immediately and hanging or folding them promptly helps to limit wrinkling, which means much less time and energy spent on ironing your laundry.

8. Keep the dryer lint trap clean.

Cleaning the lint trap on your dryer after every load doesn’t just make your dryer work more efficiently. It’s also a safety issue, as lint burns relatively easily. You should also regularly check your dryer vent for lint.

9. Line dry when possible.

Line drying your laundry saves a lot of energy and it’s pretty kind to your clothes. It takes a bit of time, but I always chalk that up under “exercise” rather than “inconvenience.”

If you’re worried about crunchy jeans and such, take them in a little before they’re completely dry, and let your dryer finish the job. The fabric will soften up nicely.

10. Move each new load into the dryer as soon as possible.

If you move your freshly washed clothes into the dryer while it’s still warm from the last load, it will use less energy reaching the right drying temperature. It’s a small difference, but you may as well take advantage of it.

11. Buy an Energy Star washer when it’s time to replace your current washer.

No clothes dryers are rated as Energy Star at this time because they all use similar amounts of energy.  Washers, on the other hand, can be Energy Star rated, and that’s something you should consider buying a more efficient machine when you need a new one.

Front loading washing machines are very efficient with their water use, which is a large part of why they have become so popular.

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