How to Take a More Eco-Friendly Approach to Household Laundry
There are many ways to be more eco-friendly at home, but one key place to start is in the laundry room. Ahead, discover several low-impact ways, from upgrading your appliances and being smarter with your detergent choices, to get the most out of this space (you'll minimize your energy bill in the process, too!) without harming Mother Earth.
Upgrade Your Washer
A full-size Energy Star model uses 14 gallons of water a load, versus 20 for a standard machine. Also, pick a front loader. It will hold 30 percent more than a top loader with an agitator, and use less water and energy. Whirlpool's Load & Go dispenser even adds the right amounts of water and detergent automatically.
Try a New Kind of Dryer
Consider gas-powered models. They're not common in the U.S. (only a quarter of homes have one) but should be: They dry twice as fast as electric, with less static and fewer wrinkles. Ventless heat-pump electric ones, like Bosch's new 500 series ($1,399, homedepot.com), also use far less energy and go anywhere with a 240-volt outlet.
And Use Them Both Wisely
Washers require about the same amount of energy regardless of the size of the load, so fill 'er up, say Energy Star experts. Be sure to use high-efficiency (HE) detergent if you have an HE machine; the regular kind makes too many suds. And to optimize your dryer's heat, put loads in one immediately after the other.
Switch to Plant-Based Detergent
It's free of chemicals and microbeads that can irritate your skin, damage textiles, and pollute waterways. For everyday use, we like Dropps pods (from $24 for 56 loads, dropps.com); for dreamy sheets, The Laundress Le Labo Rose ($45 for 32 loads, nordstrom.com) is a worthy splurge.
Check the label before you put soap or lotion on your body (and into our waterways). Avoid formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate, and synthetic fragrances.