Green solutions for laundry.
A front loading washer and dryer.
One of the biggest chores in any household is laundry. A family of four will wash approximately fourteen to sixteen loads of laundry in a two week period.
Washing laundry impacts our environment with each load with do, from the amount of water we use, to the chemicals we pour into our underground water supply, and the amount of energy used to run dryers.
So how can we turn our laundry green, environmentally speaking?
Tips on Green Laundry
1. Avoid detergents with phosphates. Phosphates are toxic to fish and cause algae to bloom in lakes and streams, damaging our water supplies. Use liquid detergents without phosphates or eco-friendly detergents made from natural vegetable oils.
2. Use cold water whenever possible.
3. Fill your washer as full as possible without overloading it. Wash as much as you can in one load.
4. If possible use a front loading washing machine. These use much less water than top loaders.
5. Avoid buying any clothing that is dry clean only. The chemical used by dry cleaners is toxic.
Is it Safe to Use Bleach?
There are many types of bleach products to whiten your laundry in a green way. Regular chlorine bleach should be avoided as it breaks down fabrics and is unsafe for our water supply. Dry oxygen bleaches such as Oxiclean or Clorox Oxy Magic, and liquid oxygen bleaches are good alternatives. These products are hydrogen peroxide based and break down into oxygen and water.
Tips on How and Why to Use Oxygen Bleach Products.
1.They work best in warm or hot water. If used in cold water allow machine to run thought a soak cycle, it takes more time but works well.
2. Natural oxygen bleach will remove mildew if garment is soaked in a mixture of hot water and oxygen bleach.
3. Powdered oxygen bleach has a longer shelf life.
4.Do not use on fine silks or wools.
5. Note the effects will take longer to obtain than with chlorine bleach.
The Green on Fabric Softeners
There are two types of fabric softeners. Liquids which are added to the rinse cycle of the washing machine, and fabric softener sheets for the clothes dryer. Liquid fabric softeners may contain chemicals that can contaminate our water supplies, and dryer sheets may emit toxic chemicals that could cause respiratory tract inflammation.
Green Fabric Softener Alternatives
1. Liquid green fabric softeners made from vegetable based surfactants, natural fragrances and salt.
2. If you must use dryer sheets cut them into smaller sizes for less chemical impact.
3. Use white vinegar or a small amount of hair conditioner in the fabric softener dispenser of your washing machine. Both these with decrease static cling in your laundry.
4. Take tin foil from your kitchen and roll into three or four small balls. Add these with the clothes in the dryer, they will eliminate all static cling and soften fabrics.
Should I Use My Clothes Dryer?
No, you should not use a clothes dryer, they damage the fibers in most clothing causing them to wear out faster, and is the second largest user of electricity in most households. But it is impractical to expect most families to stop using their clothes dryers.
Ways to Dry Your Laundry Green.
1. Always have a full load of laundry in your dryer. But don’t over load it as that will take longer to dry.
2. Start off with less time and check frequency to see if clothes are dry. Don’t waste electricity on dry laundry.
3. Put up a clothesline and hang laundry outside as much as possible.
4. Install a retractable clothesline in your house or back porch or buy a small drying rack. If the weather is wet or cold use these to dry your laundry. In the winter the heat from your furnace can serve double duty as a heat source to dry laundry.
These are just a sample of the many options you can use to wash your laundry green. Hopefully this article will aid you in making the best choices for yourself, your family and the environment.
A solar clothes dryer.
Published in: Homemaking