A 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!
With that in mind, here's a list of ways to minimize the amount of resources used with each load of laundry, without having to resort to taking clothes to the stream and beating them on the rocks (but, but all means, feel free to do that if you like):
Green laundry habits
- 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.