The 13th sustainable habit I tackled was the laundry. There are a lot of ways to make this task more sustainable without buying a new washer and dryer.
1. Water Temperature – Do you really need hot water? In most cases, no. If you’re using hot water for your laundry, about 90% of the energy consumed by each load is going towards heating water. So you can see how you could quickly save a lot of energy by switching to cold. Besides, most of the cleaning power comes from a combination of the agitation and detergent – not the water temperature. Unless you have some serious germs to kill, a hotter temperature isn’t going to do much (besides possibly shrink or fade some fabrics).
2. Not all detergents are created equal It takes a lot of water to make liquid detergent. If you can use powder with your machine, save yourself buying a jug of water with some detergent in it (or buy a concentrated version of the liquid detergent). I’ve played around with some DIY detergents this past year and have generally been really happy with the results. I’ve gotten a bit lazy about them over the past few months, but I’m making a big batch this evening.
3. Larger loads Doing a smaller number of larger loads (without over-loading your machine) will save some energy and save you some time switching one or two extra loads.
4. Skip the fabric softener, or add up to a 1/2 cup of white vinegar during the wash cycle (is there anything vinegar can’t do?). It’s a fantastic fabric softener, helps remove stains and whiten whites and doesn’t cause water repelling issues. Yes, fabric softener may make your towels soft, but they work by coating your laundry in a thin layer of chemicals that repel water; resulting in less absorbent towels.
5. To dry or not to dry Hanging clothes out on the line is hands-down more energy efficient than using a dryer. Clothes generally smell fresher afterwards and the sun has an amazing ability to get rid of stains. If you don’t like scratchy towels, you can always pop a load of towels in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff them.
Bonus points – The green bin programme in Ottawa accepts lint, so our lint usually goes straight into a green bag in the laundry room. I’ve read that it’s a great fire starter though, and I’ll be bring some along the next time I go camping to try it out.