To the surprise of many, the Laundry room is one of our major non eco-friendly rooms in the home. From water use, to drying time weather electric or gas and the chemicals in the detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, bleach, stain removers, etc… Luckily there are options and or solutions to cut down in all of theses areas!
Your washing machine uses a large amount of water. And since the water temperature must be at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit to get your laundry good and clean (colder temperatures have a harder time activating the chemicals in the detergents), it also takes quite a bit of energy to heat the water. Standard-size top-loading washers set on a regular cycle and using the highest water-level setting use approximately 40 to 57 gallons of water per load. Using all of that water and energy rather negates the idea of living a green life! If you are in the market for a new washer be sure to look for the most energy-efficient washing machine to meet your needs. (Front-loading washing machines are the most eco-friendly) Another priority is that your new washer should carry the Energy Star certification, which means it has been held up to an international standard of energy efficiency. Do your research! Also be sure to recycle the older appliances.
Here are a few ways to minimize the amount of resources used with each load of laundry:
- Wash one full load instead of two small ones. If you don’t have a full load, wait until you do.
- If you must run a small load, set your water level accordingly.
- Don’t overload your washer. Clothes must be able to move freely in the washer in order to get clean.
- When you can, choose a cold-water rinse for your clothes, even if you washed them in warm or hot water. Cold water rinses out the soap just as well as warm or hot water.
- Never keep your dryer in a cold place, like a garage or damp basement. It will work much less efficiently if it has to work in the cold.
- Check your dryer exhaust vent periodically to make sure it closes tightly. If it’s letting in outside air, the dryer is being forced to work too hard. Plus, you might be allowing your household heat to escape.
- Clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load of laundry for maximum air circulation and efficiency.
- Try to do several loads of laundry at once. When you pop a pile of wet clothes in the dryer right after you’ve finished a previous load, it takes advantage of the leftover heat.
After the washing is done, what about drying? Electric dryers are responsible for 5 to 10 percent of a home’s electricity usage.
New machine-drying technologies are being developed, but not much has hit the market. Until a greener machine option is available, it’s best if you use your dryer as little as possible, though when you do use it, do so efficiently.
Taking the dryer out of the laundry equation is a great way to incorporate a green process into your household. Hanging your laundry out to dry, or drying it using a collapsible rack, not only makes the fabrics last longer, but it also requires no additional energy use whatsoever — except your own, that is. Drying whites and linens in the sun also helps make them brighter, without having to resort to chlorine bleach or alternative whitening agents.
The Go Green choice is to line dry your clothing when ever possible. (search on line for some very innovative, space saving, clothes drying racks) Let me repeat -The less you use your clothes dryer, the better! For many reasons!
What you put in your machine and on your clothes! Here are some Green homemade recipes to replace those expensive, store bought, toxic concoctions.
1. Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until soap is melted.
2. Pour the soap water into a large, clean pail and add the borax and washing soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
3. Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
4. Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Once it’s cool, add 5 – 7 drops of your favorite essential oil per gallon. Stir the soap each time you use it (it will gel).
2 cups finely grated soap
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
1. Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.
2. Use 2 tablespoons per full load.
If you do not want to spend so much effort on making soap flakes. For a little extra cost and to save the time and aggravation it takes to grate up the soap bars, here’s a link for buying soap flakes. Your arms will thank you!
Fabric Softener #1
1 cup White Vinegar
Simply add to the rinse cycle.
This will not only act as a disinfectant but it will also make whites whiter without using bleach and eliminate static cling.
Do not use vinegar if you’re using chlorine bleach- the combination produces toxic gases.
In fact, why not switch to Oxygen Bleach – it’s gentler on fabrics and more environmentally friendly. Plus, your clothes won’t smell like a swimming pool!
Fabric Softener #2
Add ¼ cup of baking soda-which also works as a brightener-to the wash. When using liquid detergent, add the baking soda during the wash cycle; when using powder, add the baking soda during the rinse cycle.
To Whiten and Brighten
an obvious bleach alternative: lemon juice. Straight lemon juice — either squeezed directly from the lemon or poured from a bottle — works very well for bleaching. Just about any fabric (except silk) can be bleached a whiter and brighter color by soaking it in a mixture of lemon juice and very hot water. First, mix 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1 gallon very hot water. Soak the clothing in it for at least one hour, though it can soak as long as overnight. Afterward, pour the lemon juice mixture into the washing machine, then wash the garment as usual.
Or add ¼ to 1 cup of washing soda (a more powerful form of baking soda) to each laundry load during the wash cycle.
Also for whiter whites, drying in the sun will do the trick, never under estimate the power of the sun!
I use about 10 drops of lavender oil in my laundry. It acts as a natural disinfectant and also makes all of my clothes smell gorgeous.
How do you remove tough stains from fabric and carpet without resorting to toxic chemical cleaners? You just have to make your own Natural, Go Green, earth-friendly remedies!
The active ingredient used in each homemade stain remover depends on the type of stain – different chemical compositions require different solutions to solve them.
Here is a list of stains and some “Go Green” homemade stain remover recipes to get rid of them without harsh chemicals:
Grease Stains #1:
For best results, treat stains while they’re fresh. Cover the oily spot with a mixture of Borax and warm water and let it sit-20 minutes for a light, fresh stain, and two hours for a heavy, set stain-then rinse with cold water.
Gently rub corn starch into the grease stain. Let sit for 15 minutes, then brush off. Rub in a little liquid dishwashing soap, then wash in the hottest water the fabric can handle.
Make a paste of liquid dish washing soap and baking soda, rub it into the collar, then let it sit for an hour. Wash as usual.
Perspiration Odors and Stains #2
Wet those perspiration stains with lemon juice, then sprinkle with salt and rub. If it’s a hardy stain, hang the garment outside on a sunny day and let it dry in the sun. Then wash.
Perspiration Odors and Stains #3:
Combine 1 tablespoon each salt and baking soda with enough water to make a paste. Rub it into the perspiration stain and let it sit for an hour before washing.
Rub a little vegetable glycerin into the ink stain, then apply a paste of cream of tartar and lemon juice. Leave the paste on the stain for about 5 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. Repeat if necessary.
Dampen the fabric, then rub cream of tartar into the grass stain. Mix equal parts vegetable glycerin and liquid dishwashing soap. Rub the mixture into the stain, then rinse and wash as usual.
Sponge with hydrogen peroxide, then rub some liquid dishwashing soap into the blood stain and soak the item in cold water overnight. The next day, wash as usual.
Sponge with hydrogen peroxide to remove as much of the chocolate stain as possible. Make a paste of borax mixed with a little water. Rub the paste into the stain, then wash as usual.
Use a towel to blot up as much of the red wine as possible. Apply a thick layer of salt and leave it there until the salt has absorbed the wine. Rinse. Or try soaking the wine stain in club soda.
Coffee & Tea Stains:
Rub the stain with club soda. If that doesn’t completely remove it, dissolve 1 teaspoon of borax in 1 cup of hot water, then sponge the stain with the mixture. Rinse with clean water and wash as usual.
Stretch the item over a large bowl and sprinkle it with cream of tartar. Pour boiling water on the stain. Repeat until you’ve removed as much of the stain as possible. Rub in a bit of vegetable glycerin and wash as usual.
The above stain remover remedies can be adapted to carpet spot cleaning as well!
Dry cleaning isn’t very eco-friendly, so why do we have to dry clean certain items in the first place? Generally, dry cleaning is required when there’s a chance that water, soap, or detergent could damage the clothing’s fabric.
So how do we get around the dry cleaning problem? Well, the first suggestion is an easy and obvious one: When shopping, don’t buy items that require dry cleaning. Avoiding high-maintenance clothing has the added benefit of saving you money on dry cleaning bills. If you do still need that special item to be dry cleaned, find a Green Dry Cleaner
Really, the most important thing to do is to stop going to dry cleaners that are still using perchloroethylene to “clean” your goods. It’s bad for you, bad for the workers at the store, and bad for the environment. Try to find a wet or CO2 cleaner in your neighborhood if you can; the less chemicals we all use the better off we will all be.
“Green Starts at home, What are you waiting for?”
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About the Author (Author Profile)
Creator/Host of Go Green America TV
Jeff (Jf) Davis aka The Go Green Guy is from Maine
Moved to LA to follow his passion as an actor
these days he is still acting, lives in LA with his wife and two boys
an writes about Green Living for his website Go Green America TV
that will soon be a TV show!!