Few places in the house see as much traffic as the laundry room. Between your son's muddy shorts from soccer practice, your husband's grass-stained shirt from mowing the lawn and the accumulating pile of everyone's sweaty workout clothes, there's a lot for the family to wash. Before you stock your laundry cabinets full with even more laundry detergent, however, think about the effect all that washing is having on the environment. If you want to cut down on your laundry emissions and overall waste when you're running the washing machine, check out these tips:
Go phosphate free
It might not seem imperative to opt for all-natural laundry detergent if it's only washing your clothing, but it has a pretty big impact on both you and the environment. Of particular concern are phosphates found in most commercial brands, which are not biodegradable and are toxic in the long run. As a bonus, many eco-friendly laundry detergents are concentrated, meaning you need less detergent each time you wash your clothing.
Laundry emits quite a bit of carbon dioxide (so much it's alarming, actually), but there's a way to cut down on this output: washing your clothing in cold water. This has little to no effect on the actual washing process (and you're way less likely to accidentally shrink your clothing). Plus, it reduces your energy bill as well. Now that's a win-win-win situation if we've ever heard one.
If you can, skip the dryer whenever possible by using a clothing line. This cuts down on your home's carbon footprint for obvious reasons, but it's also much better for your clothing overall – no matter how great really warm pajamas may feel initially. And despite what you may be envisioning, you don't have to set up an old fashioned drying line out in the backyard – these days, many are made for the interior of your laundry room.
When a hand towel or two is dirty, it's tempting to run them through the wash before the laundry piles up. While this may seem more efficient, it's actually a huge waste of resources. Instead, make sure your washer is full before you start a load so you're running it fewer times overall. Think of it this way: Just because you're only washing one shirt doesn't mean the machine is going to pump out any less warm water than it would for a full load.
Think before you wash
One thing we're all guilty of? Throwing things that aren't technically dirty in the hamper. If you only wore a pair of jeans one time (and didn't end up dragging the ends through the mud), you don't really need to wash them again yet. If you make sure everything honestly needs a good rinse before you throw it in the machine, you'll save a lot of energy, money and time.
Wash small items in the shower or sink
So what do you do when you really need that one shirt to be clean before you go to dinner tomorrow night? Wash it in the sink or your shower. The latter saves even more resources, as the water will already have been running.