Laundry day: pursuing a greener option

Ever the environmentalist, I’m always looking for nature-friendly products to use in our home and lifestyle. For example, it’s important to me to both wash our clothes with natural products and air-dry either on an outside clothes line or with a clothes horse.

Did you know that “laundry equipment consumes vast amounts of energy and water to clean a load of clothing. On average, washers are the second-largest water user in the home, consuming 40 gallons per load (Energy Star-rated appliances use around half that). According to the Energy Information Administration, dryers annually consume 1,079 kilowatt hours per household of energy, the production of which contributes up to 2,224 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that adds to global warming.”

Here’s a few tips and tricks to help you start living a greener life, making a difference, one person / laundry load at a time!

* To make your own laundry detergent, combine either liquid castile soap or plain soap flakes with either washing soda to cut grease (it is caustic, so always wear gloves when handling) or borax to remove stains (keep away from pets and children, as it can cause vomiting if ingested).

* If you need fabric softener, you can make your own by adding 1/4 cup of baking soda to the wash cycle. Adding 1/4 cup of white vinegar will also soften clothes, as well as eliminate static cling.

* You can eliminate static cling in the dryer by drying natural-fiber clothes and synthetic-material clothes separately. Better still, line dry the synthetic clothing, as those materials tend to dry faster than cotton.

* For stain removal, try soaking fabrics in water mixed with either borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar.

* Scrubbing stained areas with a paste of washing soda and water effectively removes some stains, but be sure to wear gloves when using washing soda.

* Launder clothes on the warm or cold water setting for washing, and always use cold water to rinse clothes. Washing clothes in cold water can cut CO2 emissions down by 100 pounds and save you up to $64 a year on your energy bill.

* Clean your lint filter with every load and check your dryer exhaust frequently to make sure it’s clean and that the flapper on the outside hood opens and closes freely. This will help improve its energy efficiency.

* Irons can consume up to 1,800 watts of energy, and if used for two hours, one iron emits 4.8 pounds of carbon dioxide. Line drying clothes, drying with cold air or removing them promptly from the dryer will keep wrinkles to a minimum.

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