Tag Archives: laundry

9 Lazy Ways to Be Greener

Going green isn’t always the more difficult option. Sometimes it’s the simplest path, if only people could see it more clearly. Here are a few green things I’ve found to be easier than the regular alternatives.

1. Breastfeed rather than bottle feed.

Yes, breastfeeding can be very hard to get started, and for some people it’s impossible. If that’s how it is, absolutely, bottle feed your baby. It’s what’s necessary, and I don’t call that a bad thing.

But for those of us fortunate enough to get breastfeeding going well, it’s by far the easiest way to feed a baby, especially in the middle of the night. No mixing formula or washing bottles. Just pop that baby on the breast, make sure the latch is good, and relax.

2. Cloth diaper rather than disposables.

I know, I know. Lots of people think cloth diapering is this miserable, hard thing. And poops are gross even when they come from baby bottoms, know what I mean? But amazingly enough, I found cloth diapering to be much easier for me than disposables.

The laundry isn’t that much extra work. What’s an extra couple loads when you have a family? Do you have any idea how wonderful it is to not need to run to the store to get more disposable diapers because you didn’t realize you were almost out in time? Not to mention no need to buy more diapers all the time anyhow. They’re right in your house, and if you want cute cloth diapers, you can find cute cloth diapers!

Not to mention how much money you can save using cloth diapers! Just don’t let the cute cloth diaper addiction get out of hand.

3. Homemade cleaners rather than the usual brands.

Some people think that making homemade cleaning supplies is a big deal. It can be a little difficult to make some things; laundry detergent is definitely an effort. Other cleaners, not so much.

Baking soda and vinegar handle most things. You can water down the vinegar and add a little essential oil such as lavender to make it smell better, but it’s quite effective. We keep a prepared squirt bottle of it, same as you would for any other cleaner. Sprinkling baking soda really isn’t that much harder than sprinkling any other powered cleaner.

Some things need a little extra elbow grease, but most times it’s really not that bad. If homemade doesn’t suit, there are some decent cleaners that are more eco friendly.

4. Do less laundry.

Obviously, you want to be careful about this one. You don’t want to wear stinky clothes. That said, towels and such can easily be used several times before they need a wash with most families.

When laundry day rolls around, wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible. I’ve never bought a special detergent for this. Most clothes will come quite nicely clean in cold water.

Line drying isn’t lazy, but if you think of it as exercise, you might just have enough of an excuse to go at it anyhow. On hot enough days, it can be faster than the dryer.

5. Handmedowns for the kids.

Seriously. I love handmedowns for my kids. Do you have any idea how rarely I buy clothing for my children? It’s not often at all. They get handmedowns from cousins, and that takes care of most of their needs, even after the stuff that’s stained or worn out is removed from consideration. I don’t have to take the time or spend the money on shopping, my kids are still happy to get handmedowns, and it’s all better for the environment than buying new.

6. Stay away from stores unless you need to go there.

I’ll admit it. I enjoy wandering stores and seeing all the stuff. The problem is that it’s a temptation I don’t need, and quite frankly the realization of how much waste there is really takes the fun out of browsing.

If you tend to impulse shop, keeping away from stores is a great way to cut that habit down. You can’t buy something on impulse if you never see it. Saves on gas and unnecessary purchases.

7. Replace bottled water with filtered water.

Many people swear they can’t stand their local tap water, and that’s why they buy bottled water. Thing is, many brands of bottled water are simply filtered tap water. Why pay such a premium when you can filter it yourself?

You can even take this water with you when you’re on the go. Get yourself a good quality reusable water bottle. You’ll have your own filtered water ready when you need it.

8. Buy a programmable thermostat.

Installing a programmable thermostat has the potential to save 15-25% on your heating and cooling costs. That’s not a bad deal at all, plus you can set your house to be the right temperature for the time of day, and not have to worry about fiddling with the controls or leaving the heat or air conditioner on all day when you go to work. Just program it and let it run.

9. Choose energy saving electronics and appliances when you replace old.

It’s not terribly eco friendly to go about replacing things that don’t need replacing yet, although there can be a balance as things get old enough. But when the time does come, pick models which are more energy efficient. It will save you time and be better for the environment without any extra effort.

You can also get a smart power strip for your computer or television. This power strip powers down accessories when you shut down the main device. You have to pick carefully, of course, as sometimes you don’t want everything to shut down just because you turned off the TV. Most people don’t want their DVR to shut down at such times, as it may have other shows to record, and if you’re stuck with a cable box, it would need to be on for the sake of the DVR. But it’s nice to have the other electronics shut down because they aren’t in use.

Are Dryer Sheets Harmful to Your Family? What Alternatives Do You Have?

I know a lot of people who just can’t do laundry without throwing in a dryer sheet. I’ve never had that habit, and when I tried the ones we were given back when we were first married, really couldn’t see what the benefit was. But a lot of people do love them, and use them without considering the potential harm the simple dryer sheet may do to their family.

A big part of this is air quality issues. There’s an article on the National Institutes of Health website that gets into the risks of using scented products indoors, and dryer sheets are one of the topics covered. They give off a variety of VOCs, and there have been cases of children having a seizure after being exposed to dryer sheets. It’s not going to happen to every child, of course, but that’s still pretty serious.

Simply put, there are better ways to help your laundry smell fresh, ways that don’t involve the waste and harsh chemicals of dryer sheets, even the unscented ones.

Line Dry Your Laundry

Hanging your laundry out to dry is one of the best ways to handle the issue. You get that fresh air scent naturally, rather than the imitation some dryer sheets try to give. Not only does line drying mean you don’t need dryer sheets, it saves all the energy using your dryer would have taken.

You can still take down slightly damp laundry and give a few minutes in the dryer for those things that tend to come out crunchy when line dried, such as towels and jeans. The crunchiness may not last long once you start using them, so you may choose to skip even that much use of the dryer if you can stand it initially.

Vinegar in the Wash

You can add a half cup of white vinegar to your wash during the last rinse cycle as a natural softener. This can even help your laundry come out softer when you line dry it. Vinegar in the last rinse cycle helps to remove the last of the detergent from your laundry.

Essential Oils

If you truly love the scent given to your laundry by dryer sheets, why not make your own? Pick a favorite essential oil, place a couple drops of it onto a damp washcloth and include in the dryer with the rest of the load. It will scent your laundry nicely.

Aluminum Foil Ball

Another tip for those who use their dryer for their laundry is to add in a ball of aluminum foil. Roll some into a tight, 2-3 inch diameter ball and throw it in the dryer with every load. It will take care of any problems you have with static in your laundry, and should last a long time. A tennis ball may help as well, but they may contain toxic chemicals.

If you prefer the dryer balls you’ve seen advertised elsewhere, go for ones that are PVC free and aren’t packaged in a bunch of plastic. Just be aware that some people feel that some types create holes in their clothes over time.

Eco Friendly Dryer Sheets

If you just can’t give up the dryer sheet habit, at least go for some of the more environmentally friendly options. Mrs. Meyers is a good choice, but Method may be easier to find locally.

You can also buy reusable dryer sheets such as Static Eliminator. They should be good for hundreds of uses, which beats buying boxes of dryer sheets. On the other hand, I don’t know that they’re any better than any of the solutions you can do right at home.

As you can see, there are plenty of simple ways to quit using dryer sheets without having to deal with static cling or laundry that doesn’t smell right to you. Make this simple change and you’ve cut one source of VOCs from your home.

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.

Should You Worry About Dirty Reusable Bags?

There was a report in the news the other day about the bacteria that are found in most reusable shopping bags. It seems that 97% of users never wash their reusable bags, and so coliform bacteria are found in most of them.

Sounds bad, right?  You don’t want dangerous bacteria growing on your food. The solution, at least, is simple.

Wash your reusable bags!

That’s it. Problem solved.

If you aren’t certain that your reusable bags will be safe in the dryer, just line dry them. Inside out in the sunlight is probably a good choice.

It’s a small addition to your laundry routine, and worth the trouble to ensure that you don’t get a problematic level of bacteria growing in your bags or contaminating your food.

Once they’re clean, put them back in your car, your purse, by the door or wherever helps you to remember to bring your own bags.

And don’t worry too much about the germs. The presence of bacteria doesn’t mean that there are enough to make you sick. The main time you should think about it is if you carry raw meat or poultry in your bag. Wash it after, and you should be fine.

How to Deal with Crunchy Towels and Jeans After Line Drying Laundry

Line drying your laundry saves a lot of energy and money. It’s even pretty good exercise as you hang out your clothes, not to mention carrying damp laundry from the washing machine to the backyard.

There’s just one problem. Not everything dries nice, soft and comfortable to use.

Jeans and towels are notorious for this. They usually feel stiff and crunchy when you pull them off the line.

How can you get rid of the crunchies?

Take Them Down Damp

The simplest solution is to let them dry most of the way on the line, but take them down while they’re still a little bit damp and throw them into the dryer. It won’t take long to dry them and you’re still saving energy.

The towels and jeans will feel as though they’d spent the entire time in the dryer. No more nasty crunchy feeling.

Air Fluff

If they’re dry, you can still throw crunchy items into the dryer and just give them a few minute on the No Heat or Air cycle of your dryer. The motion will break up much of the crunchiness.

Add Baking Soda to the Washing Machine

Baking soda works as a water softener, and can help your towels and jeans to dry softer as well if it has been used in the water. They won’t get completely soft this way, but it may decrease the crunchy sensation enough.

You can also add vinegar to the rinse, which should help to soften everything.

Don’t use fabric softener on towels; it’s bad for their ability to absorb water, which is kind of contrary to the whole point of using a towel to dry yourself.

Double Them Up

Many people say that if you fold the towels in half to line dry them or hang two together, they will not be as stiff when they dry. The reason is that they tend to be less stiff if they dry more slowly.

Give Them a Snap

Some swear by this method. Give the towels and jeans a snap before hanging them on the line, maybe another when they’re about halfway dry, if you remember. This helps to limit how crunchy they get.

Get Used to It

Some people actually like their towels a little crunchy. It’s a feeling you can get used to.

Same for jeans. The crunchy feeling decreases as the jeans get older as well, so the problem may not be serious for long.

Give a few solutions a try and see what works for you. Your results may vary due to the weather you’re having, the age of your towels and jeans, and the hardness of your local water.