Washing and laundry is one of the most energy consuming activities we do in our home.
But what if we want to do our little thing for the environment and focus on running our home in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way as possible?
Well, in this guide on how to make your laundry eco friendly, we’ll show you how you can make an impact for out future generations.
The great thing is that you might be able to save some money or extend the life of your clothes along the way, and who’s going to argue with that particularly with the ever-increasing energy costs.
Understanding what each symbol on the labels of our clothes means is one of the easiest ways to implement a more environmentally friendly laundry regime.
Admittedly, there are so many symbols that it can be confusing. But, even with a basic understanding you can really make an impact and, importantly, make sure you’re washing your clothes in the right way and on the right setting.
If you want to maintain your clothes, keep their shape and their colour washing them on the manufacturer recommended setting will definitely help and will mean they last longer. This is particularly important given the trend for fast fashion and likely hood of these garments being damaged during the course of washing.
With a little bit of time and effort you can implement this straight away. So, what are you waiting for…?
Not all of us are in the position to be able to simply throw money at a new more efficient washing machine.
However, if you are looking to reduce your environmental impact and save money in the long-term purchasing a new and likely more efficient appliance is certainly the answer.
If you are running a rickety old, washing machine or dryer, it is very likely that the machine will be inefficient which will impact your environmental footprint and cost you more money for each load of washing.
Most modern high-efficiency machines use significantly less water than older models, with estimates of between a 20 to 50% reduction. In addition, modern high-efficiency machines will include more efficient programs that are deliberately designed to be better for the environment.
Essentially, modern machines have been designed to be more environmentally friendly, more efficient, and ultimately to save you money. Whilst the initial outlay might be greater, in the long run it will be cost-effective.
Maintaining and regularly servicing your washing machine, will positive impact performance and maintain the machine’s efficiency.
At a minimum, you should keep your lint trap clear and regularly use lint balls to remove the build up of lint and pet hair - assuming you have a dog or cat, obviously!. Keeping your lint trap, clear will also save you money over the course of the year, with estimation of up to £50 per annum.
Employing a washing machine service engineer to maintain and service your washing machine every couple of years will also elongate the life of your machine and keep it running more smoothly. You can often purchase these sort of packages when you purchase the machine itself, so don’t dismiss theme out of hand at the time of purchase.
We are certainly not encouraging you to wear dirty clothes or decrease your personal hygiene levels, but thinking hard about when your clothes need to be washed will certainly save you money and become more eco-friendly.
Garments like jackets, jeans and sweaters probably don’t need to be washed after every use. By Washing these garments after every other use, or ideally after four or five wears, you will be at worst halving the number of washes you do, and therefore having the environmental impact. Food for thought, isn’t it…?
Many people believe that the hotter the water do you use to wash clothes, the cleaner they will be. In fact, that’s why vast majority of washing machines, have a number of hot water programs.
But heating water is one of the most energy consuming parts of washing and has been estimated to account for up to 90% of the overall energy to run a washing cycle. Therefore, one of the most eco-friendly and cost-effective ways of washing is to use a cooler water temperature when possible.
Of course, as we know, this isn’t always possible. There are some more synthetic fibres such as nylon and spandex, which come with a manufacturers recommendation to use hot water. Always go with the washing symbol on your clothes label, but perhaps wash similar fabrics together therefore reducing the number of loads you need to do.
In an ideal world, we would all be able to hang our clothes outside to dry, but for us in the UK in the northern parts of the US just aren’t able to do that outside of the summer months.
Unfortunately, tumble drying is one of the most environmentally harmful things you can do in your home. To create the required heat, the machine uses a significant amount of electricity and tumble drying does have a damaging effect on fabrics and garments, therefore reducing their life.
If you aren’t able to dry, your clothes, outside, one of the cheapest, and most environmentally ways of drying is with an electrically heated clothes airer.
There are two types of airer; heated bar clothes airers or drying pods. Heated bar airers are similar to a normal clothes airer, but use electricity to gently heat the bars thereby drying your clothes. Drying pods use a hot air element and cover to create a pod which essentially blow dry the clothes
Now, whilst this method might not be the quickest, it is certainly the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly as it uses significantly less energy in the tumble dryer or by placing wet clothes over radiators powered by your central heating.
Most dry cleaners use a chemical called perchloroethylene, or perc for short. Perc is a harsh chemical that, amongst other things, is reported to have a negative impact on our health in the form an increased risk of bladder and cervical cancer and reduced fertility.
Obviously, the easiest way to avoid going to the dry cleaner is simply not to buy clothes that are dry clean only. Pay attention when you’re out shopping and try to avoid the “Dry Clean Only” label.
But, if your clothes have to be dry cleaned simply try to reduce the amount of times you take them to the dry cleaner.
The other option is to find a “green cleaner” nearby. Green cleaners use an alternative non Perc method for cleaning your clothes that is significantly less harmful to the environment, your clothes and ultimately, you.
Both liquid fabric softener and fabric softener sheets contain chemicals which might cause asthma and allergies to humans. Therefore, to be more environmentally friendly, you should avoid these and use natural options instead.
Wool dryer balls, home-made detergent or even a small amount of vinegar added to a wash are great alternatives.
Don’t worry, you’re close won’t smell like vinegar after that washed!
Finding the right detergent isn’t always the easiest thing to do. There are so many options available and you need to ensure that the detergent you choose cleans your clothes well and smells nice too!
However, a number of the common commercial detergents on the market today contain harsh, chemicals, chlorine, dies, phosphate, and other enzymes that can be harmful to the environment and in some circumstances cause irritation for the wearer.
The great thing is that the market is evolving and there are now a number of eco-friendly detergents available on the market today. When you next go shopping. Make sure to choose a detergent that is environmentally friendly and of course washes your your clothes to an acceptable…and smells nice too.
Probably the easiest and most impactful way to improve your your home’s environmental impact is to simply reduce the number of times you run load of washing.
We’re not suggesting that you wear dirty clothes, just be conscious about how often you are washing them.
Go ahead and wash underwear, socks and T-shirts after each way, but garments, such as jeans, sweaters and jackets, should only be washed when they are actually dirty.
If you find that you are constantly only filling half a load of washing, the best thing you can do for the environment is to actually buy more clothes. I know that sounds like it makes no sense, but bear with me. If you are at the stage where you are constantly putting on half a load to wash underwear, simply buy more underwear. in the long run, this will be more environmentally friendly and will actually save you money - spend money to save money!
For those of us that I don’t enjoy ironing this this will be a very popular tip.
Ironing uses electricity and can have a damaging and harmful impact on your clothes, simply meaning that they won’t last as long. Where possible try to hang your clothes as soon as the washing cycle finishes - the hope is that any of those inevitable creases will come out as the garment dries.
The other option is to use a clothes steamer, which whilst uses electricity, is less damaging to the fibres of your clothes. These devices use steam to remove creases as opposed to direct heat from the iron itself.
whilst implementing an eco-friendly laundry regime in your home can take time, it is certainly well worth the effort in the long run.
Not only are you doing the right thing for our future generations, but it is very likely that you will save money along the way - this might not be a short-term saving, but the long-term savings can be significant. Good luck…
Our editors have independently selected and reviewed all of the products you see here. The reviews can contain links from affiliates, which means we may receive a small commission on editorially chosen products purchased through our links.