Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ways to Save Energy & Money: Laundry Edition

Today, while I was doing laundry I thought of a proverbial laundry list (couldn't help myself) of things that I do that help save energy and money while doing the wash. 

Air Dry Laundry:  I adore hanging laundry.  I find it totally and completely relaxing.  Having a clothesline was one of my criteria when searching for a home.  I love my clothesline.  I could write an ode to it.  I pray when I hang clothes.  I snuggle E in her wrap, I sing songs to her,  we listen to our dog, Pippin, howl with our neighbor dog, Meatball.  It gets me outside, it helps me slow down, and it saves me money while saving the environment.  I could go on...

While you might not have room or materials for a clothesline you can still hang some, if not all of your clothes.  If you have a small yard consider a rotary clothesline.  It does not take up the yard space, but still offers many feet of clothesline.  If you live in an apartment make use of your balcony.  When I lived in an apartment I made a clothesline across my balcony from a 20 foot cable cord my dog had chewed up.  (This is probably not allowed in a lot of complexes). You could also make an indoor clothesline in a utility room, basement, or attic.

Rack 'Em Up--If a clothesline is never going to be an option for you can still use a drying rack.  While this may not fit all of your clothes it will fit around half, and the drying time for your remaining clothes will be greatly reduced.  

Drip Dry Over the Tub--Take advantage of the space provided above your tub.  Add an additional shower rod in the middle of your tub and hang clothes on hangers over the tub.  If you have the additional rod, that will provide two rods from which to hang your clothes.  

Don't Air Your (Clean) Laundry--If it is TMI for you to hang your intimates out on the line, consider purchasing these hooks.  You can get them at dollar stores very cheaply and they can hold a lot of clothing.  Also, if you don't feel like purchasing anything new you can take a wire hanger and clip clothes pins on the bottom to hang your undies.

Even if you can't do all of these things, consider adding at least one to your wash routine.  If you reduce the amount of laundry you put in the dryer, your clothing will dry faster, saving energy & reducing your utility bill.

I use homemade laundry detergent, which saves a TON of money in an of itself, but if that is not your speed try some of these things.

 We Don't Need No Stinking Laundry Detergent--MSN Money posted an article in which someone tried this experiment.  The conclusion was that outer garments came out just as clean as they did with detergent.  Apparently, underwear and other garments worn close to the body did still retain a bit of body odor, but it seems that it is possible to get away without detergent.  Interesting.  I haven't tried it, but I'm just putting it out there.

Soften That Laundry-- Consider using white vinegar as a fabric softener.   We have an HE washer, so I just use a splash of vinegar in the softener tray, but you could also put some in a downy ball or measure out about an 1/8th of a cup during the rinse cycle.  Your wash gets softened, does not come out smelling like vinegar, and you can get a gallon for under $3.  That will soften a lot of laundry.  Also, if you strongly dislike the smell of vinegar you can add some essential oils to your bottle to cover the vinegary smell.

I Heart These Balls--Not that kind silly!  Dryer balls are a great way to naturally remove static cling from your clothing.  They also help decrease drying time as they help aerate the laundry.  I have also heard that tennis balls and balled up tin foil do the same thing.   


Wide Load--Make sure to only run your washer when it is full.  Not only will you save energy, & not waste as much water, but many machines do not run efficiently with small loads.

Polar Bear Club--Switch to washing your clothes in cold water.  About 90% of the energy used to wash clothes is spent heating the water.  Think how much that could slash your utility bills!  If you were to wash 4 out of 5 loads in cold water you would save 72 lbs of CO2 emissions this month alone.

Listen to the Experts-- Washing clothing causes eventual wear on the clothing, in addition to the use of water and detergents.  Real Simple has published a guide of recommended washes for clothing.  For instance, bras only need to be washed every 3 to 4 wears, while jeans should only be washed after 4 or 5 wears.  Consult their guide before throwing things in the laundry and you will save water, detergent, time, and cut down on your clothing budget!

Whether your motivation is environmental or driven by frugality, any of these tips will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint.  What's to lose?

1 comment:

  1. I've been following most of those laundry suggestions (except making my own detergent--haven't tried that yet!) for YEARS...I thought most people already did. LOL & I ADORE my clothesline suburbia no less. ;-)