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Green Laundry – Squeaky Green Clean

By Larraine Roulston:

Doing laundry has a bigger impact on the planet than you might imagine. By greening your laundry habits, you can reduce both energy and water usage, and save money.

First step – wear your clothes more than once. Next, look for eco-friendly detergents that are biodegradable and phosphate-free,

Picture from http://www.stepintomygreenworld.com
Picture from http://www.stepintomygreenworld.com

as well as manufactured from plant/vegetable-based ingredients. One recombination is to use soap nuts As an alternative, you can make your own laundry detergent by checking out “recipes for liquid and powder detergents.” Wash by hand or take a few duds into the shower and stomp away.Replace fabric softeners with a cup of white vinegar to balance the pH of soap and leave your clothes soft and free of chemical residue.

There are many reasons to avoid chlorine bleach, which may cause skin, nose and eye irritation and be fatal if swallowed. Chlorine can form toxic gases when reacting with other cleaners. When released into waterways, bleach can contaminate drinking water.

Do laundry when you have a full load.Use cold water.Ninety percent of the total energy used by a typical washing machine heats the water with only 10% being used to run its cycles.If every U.S. household used only cold water, carbon dioxide emissions would be reduced by 34 million tons. The U.S. statistics on washing machine water usage report that 49% householders use warm water, 37% cold, and 14% hot water.

Look for the Energy Star label to save water, energy and money over the appliance’s operating lifetime. Washing machines became 88% more energy efficient between 1981 and 2003. The newer front-loading appliances can save as much as 7,000 gallons of water per year compared to the top-loading machines.

Project Laundry is a U.S. based group whose mission is to make cold-water washing and air-drying laundry acceptable and desirable.  This group provided material for the documentary Drying for Freedom.  The number of Americans who viewed their dryers as essential decreased last year, for the first time.

green-laundry stackThere are upwards of 88 million dryers in the U.S., each emitting more than a ton of carbon dioxide per year. While some homeowners’ associations oppose hanging clothes out to dry, the pro-line drying movement, headed by “Right to Dry,” is putting up a good defense for your right to harvest free solar energy. In addition, clothes last longer when you line-dry them or use a drying rack.

If using a dryer, clean the lint filter to increase efficiency and shorten drying time. Also, a good moisture sensor will automatically shut off the machine when it senses that the clothes are dry.

Avoid purchasing dryer sheets, as they can contain cancer causing chemicals and also shorten the life of fabrics. Instead, toss in a sachet of dried organic lavender for a healthy sweet scent. For more hot dryer tips, visit Tree Hugger.

Iron only when necessary. By hanging clothes immediately after the wash cycle, gravity will pull out most wrinkles. For wrinkle-prone linens, reduce the final spin cycle to retain even more water in the garments, therefore creating yet more pull.

Choose clothing that does not require dry cleaning. Many delicate garments can be safely hand washed.Ask your local dry cleaner if they have eliminated the chemical perchlorothylene and switched to greener cleaning methods.

Related links:

Green Clean LaundryTree Hugger

Project Laundry

Larraine Roulston authors the Pee Wee at Castle Compost series at www.castlecompost.com 


About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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