The average family does about 8-10 loads of laundry every week. That adds up to 11-15 hours a week – if you’re using the dryer. It can be longer for items you hang or spread out on a rack to dry. So it makes sense that the next place we’ll stop on our year long quest to Go Green is… the Laundry Room.
Wash N Go
While mechanical clothes washers have been around since the late 1700’s, the first automatic washing machine was introduced in 1937 with home models appearing shortly thereafter. However, they have become much more efficient and better designed just in the last 10-20 years. And not just the WiFi enabled ones.
The earliest washing machines used between 40 and 50 gallons per load. Thankfully, in recent years that has been reduced to less than 13 gallons per load. But if you really want to conserve water, invest in a front load, high efficiency washing machine. It’ll cost a little more up front, but they use on average 5 gallons less per load (that’s 2000 gallons a year saved), get more of the water out of the clothes, so drying time is reduced, and use less detergent while getting clothes considerably cleaner.
Limit your detergent. You’ll note on most laundry detergent bottles, two fill lines. Use the highest one only when you’re doing a full load. Anything less, use the lower line, and never overfill – it can actually cause buildup that may lead to bacteria. Whenever possible, always do a full load.
Another recommendation you hear often is to wear jeans two or three times before you wash them. With the humidity and heat on the gulf coast of Florida, you can bet your clothes are probably building up more than the usual liter of sweat, 10 grams of salt, 40 grams of grease and sebum, and 10 grams of skin cells and flakes that the usual person leaves in their clothes every day. But you can make up your own mind.
Running Hot and Cold
Did you know most clothes can be washed in the cold cycle? Yet, the average family washes 50% percent of their clothes in warm water, 35% in cold and 15% in hot.
80-85% of the energy attributed to washing machines comes from the need to get and keep the water hot or warm. Yet cold water works well for all clothes, even whites. Although, once a month you should probably wash all your whites with hot water and bleach or some hydrogen peroxide to keep them white. Peroxide also helps get out stubborn stains.
You can toss everything in together. Sure the first couple of times you wash a new pair of jeans, or bright colored socks, towels or blouse, you should wash them alone, but once they’ve gotten past that bleeding stage, you’re good to go. No more pink everything anymore.
One caveat, a lot of laundry experts will say to do your denim separate. There’s a couple reasons, but mostly because heavier fabrics take longer to dry and the longer certain fabrics are exposed to heat, the more they’ll break down. So turn your jeans inside out and wash them separately to keep everything lasting a little longer.
The Dries Have It
As you can probably guess, there’s one big suggestion for going green with your laundry that some will resist. Instead of throwing everything in the dryer, hang everything out on a clothesline. It was good enough for our parents, right?
In truth, dryers in homes are a recent development. Until the mid 1960’s, electric dryers were far too expensive for most people to own. Now that they cost around $350 apiece, we toss 90% of our washer loads into the dryer.
With energy efficient dryers, the savings is less than it used to be to hang items out on the clothesline, but that also has the benefit of a little exercise, fresh air and even stimulates your creativity! If you usually take advantage of dryer sheets, add a quarter cup of vinegar to your wash and you’ll get the same softness, and your washer will stay cleaner too.
Whenever you DO use the dryer, make sure that the lint trap is cleaned. You’d be surprised how often people forget to do this simple task each time. Also, you can turn off your dryer when you’re not using it – just like your TV, it still draws power, even when it’s not running.
A New Wrinkle
When ironing, turn the iron up to the highest temperature you need, but start ironing items needing a cooler temp right away, so you use the heat as it’s building up, cutting down on both the electricity and the energy needed to cool everything down.
If you use dry cleaning to get fresh pressed shirts and jackets, you can bring them into the bathroom while you shower and they’ll absorb the moisture and smooth out the wrinkles naturally.
If you choose to go the dry cleaning route, you should invest in reusable, environmentally safe dry cleaning bags. Ask if your dry cleaner utilizes a hanger recycling program and you can also self-recycle by bringing the hangers back to your dry cleaner.
Even if the label says dry clean only, many items can be hand washed. Just be careful with delicate fabrics. You also avoid using the various chemicals that can cause environmental and health risks.
As part of our commitment to our customers and stewarding planet earth, we stopped using harmful chemicals for our pest control services a while back. And we’ve discovered that they often cost the same and are more effective than what other companies offer.
As we get closer to the rainy summer months, mosquitoes are soon going to be an issue across the Gulf Coast. Our customers from Punta Gorda to Lakewood Ranch have found that our exclusive No Bite Zones effectively stop mosquito bites by turning the Momma mosquitoes into vegans! If you’d like to see how it would work for your yard, give us a call!