Laundry is an essential part of our lives, but it can be a significant source of environmental impact. From the amount of water and energy used to the harmful chemicals in detergent, traditional laundry practices can be quite damaging. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Many have the false perception that to be sustainable they have to make significant changes to every element of their life. This is not the case, in fact simply making changes within your laundry practice will be a big enough effort. Small yet effective habits are the best place to start when seeking sustainability, and there is so much room for eco-friendly practices within a laundry routine.
In this article, we’ll share the best tips and tricks on how to do laundry sustainably.
Use Eco-Friendly Products
The first step to sustainable laundry is to switch to an eco-friendly washing powder. Standard detergents are full of chemicals that can harm the environment, and even your health. Look for a plant-based, biodegradable detergent that is free of harmful chemicals such as phosphates, parabens, and synthetic fragrances. There are hundreds of new sustainable cleaning brands that now offer effective and sustainable detergents that are much kinder on your clothes and the environment as well.
Wash in Cold Water
Washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot water can make a huge difference in reducing energy consumption. Heating water accounts for up to 90% of the energy used in washing clothes, and switching to cold water can save a lot of energy. Plus, cold water is gentler on clothes and can help them last longer if your clothes have been susceptible to discoloration and shrinking in the past.
Air-Dry Your Clothes
Drying your clothes in a dryer uses a lot of energy which is damaging, so air-drying is a more sustainable option. Hang your clothes outside on a clothesline or drying rack to dry naturally. There are loads of great drying racks that help large amounts of clothes quickly dry, without using energy. This not only saves energy but also helps your clothes last longer. Certain materials such as gym leggings and other athleisure clothes are best air-dried to avoid shrinkage. If you need to use a dryer, consider using it for only short cycles without overloading the dryer, as this will lead to longer energy usage.
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Use Less Washing Powder
Using too much detergent not only wastes the product but also creates residue, which requires more water to rinse out. Most people use more detergent than they need when washing clothes, creating more waste and consumption. try using less and see if your clothes still come out clean. Also, consider using a measuring cup to make sure you’re using the right amount of washing powder.
Avoid Fabric Softeners
Fabric softeners may make your clothes feel softer, but they can contain harmful chemicals that are released into the environment. They are not necessary when washing, and there are more natural alternatives that can be used to reduce the amount of consumption you make. Instead, add a half cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to help soften your clothes naturally.
Choose a Front-Loading Washing Machine
Front-loading washing machines use less water and energy than top-loading machines. They also spin faster, which means your clothes will come out of the dryer and require less time in the dryer.
Wash Full Loads
Washing full loads of laundry is more efficient than washing smaller loads. It saves water, energy, and detergent. However, be careful not to overload your washing machine, as this can damage your clothes and reduce the effectiveness of the wash. Whilst it might be difficult to avoid full loads of washing, it might be wise to consider how many of the clothes you wear need washing. Some clothes might still be clean after being worn, so use them as much as possible before putting them into the wash.
Repair and Reuse
When your clothes are torn or damaged, repair them instead of throwing them away. You can also repurpose old clothes into rags or donate them to charity. Other people might find value in the clothes you no longer see value in. You might even be able to profit from the clothes you no longer want by selling them on online marketplaces. By extending the life of your clothes, you’re reducing waste and minimising your environmental impact.
Use Green Dry Cleaners
Traditional dry cleaning uses chemicals that are harmful to the environment and human health. Instead, look for green dry cleaners that use eco-friendly cleaning methods, such as wet cleaning or liquid carbon dioxide cleaning.
Avoid Dry Cleaning Altogether
If possible, avoid dry cleaning altogether. Many clothes that are labeled “dry clean only” can be washed at home if you’re careful. Read the care label on your clothes and follow the instructions to see if you can wash them at home. It might be more time-consuming to hand wash these more delicate items of clothing, but it will be a better practice if you want to be more sustainable for the environment.
In conclusion, doing laundry sustainably is not only good for the environment but also good for your wallet. By making a few simple changes to your laundry routine, you can significantly reduce your environmental impact and even save money. Switching to eco-friendly detergent, washing in cold water, air-drying your clothes, and repairing and reusing old clothes are just a few sustainable laundry habits everyone can incorporate into their washing routines.