Betty Knows: Green Your Laundry Room

by Betty on March 5, 2014

[Originally seen in Echo — a monthly local newspaper]


Last month we tackled the kitchen; let’s move onto the laundry room! The laundry room has a BIG environmental footprint, but don’t worry – that just means slight adjustments can make a BIG DIFFERENCE! Reports estimate 75-80% of the lifecycle impact of our clothing can be attributed to washing and drying. Not only is laundry a necessary chore, it’s a huge drain on both water and electricity. The average household does almost 400 loads of laundry each year. The dryer is the second largest energy-consuming appliance in the home (after the refrigerator).

Try these quick and easy adjustments to make a big difference:

  • Use cold water. 90% of energy used by your washer goes toward heating the water, so wash in cold water whenever possible. If everyone switched to cold, we could prevent the release of 34 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
  • Wash only full loads of laundry. Doing so can save as much as 5,200 gallons of water each year.
  • Green your detergent. Buy concentrated detergent to keep packaging to a minimum. Plus, it uses less water in the manufacturing process.
  • Line dry. The average dryer in the U.S. is responsible for one ton of CO2 emissions per year, so line drying is a big environmental win. An added bonus: line drying reduces wear and tear on your clothes, so they last longer.
  • Clean out your lint filter after each load to maximize your dryer’s efficiency.
  • Utilize the dryer’s moisture sensor (rather than timed drying), to stop the machine once it senses your clothes have reached the desired dryness, cutting CO2 emissions by as much as 10%.*New in 2014 is the first Energy Star dryer
  • Run dryer loads back to back to take advantage of residual heat, reducing energy use.
  • Don’t wash your jeans every time you wear them. Recently clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger was quoted as saying “That’s Crazy” when asked if he washes his jeans every time he wears them. Jean manufacturers like Levi Strauss recommends washing your jeans rarely, if ever. Wear your clothes more than once to save!
  • If you absolutely have to dryclean your clothes, choose a eco-drycleaner like Rio Hill Cleaners, who uses a wet cleaning process without the percs (and I don’t mean perks! — traditional dry cleaners use the hazardous chemical perchloroethylene).
  • Do you need machines? Buy Energy Star-rated machines. Energy Star washers use 50% less energy and water and coming soon Energy Star dryers!

Hope this helps increase your eco-living lifestyle. Feel free to “place your order” for actions you’ll commit to in 2014 and then share your successes with us at!

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