Doing laundry is an incredibly common task that is relatively unavoidable. Here are some helpful tips for making your laundry routine more eco-friendly.
1. Wash in cold water
Washing your clothes releases microfibers from synthetic fabrics, with the average household in the U.S. and Canada releasing about 135 grams of microfibers into the water system annually via their laundry machine. Unfortunately, wastewater treatment systems cannot filter out all of the microfibers and they end up contributing to plastic pollution. Washing your clothes in cold water can significantly decrease the amount of microfibers shedded from your clothes.
Cold water is also great for saving energy. When washing with hot water, 75-90% of the total energy used goes towards heating the water. Cold water can also help your clothes last longer as it can slow the fading of colors and shrinking of clothes. However, hot water is useful for very dirty items or if you are trying to kill off any bacteria.
2. Use phosphate free laundry detergent
Phosphates are used in laundry detergents to help soften hard water to clean better. However, if it makes its way into water systems it can cause harmful algae blooms, leading to lower oxygen levels and potentially fish deaths. Some companies have already removed phosphates from their detergents and you can find them in grocery stores.
3. Air dry your clothes
Air drying your clothes not only saves energy but also helps extend the lifetime of your clothes by reducing the wear and tear from tumbling around in a dryer. If you have a small space, you can utilize a foldable drying rack to save space when not in use. If you do use a dryer, make sure to consistently clean the lint trap to keep the dryer efficient and prevent fires. You can also try and dry similar items together by separating the lighter and heavier fabrics, as it will take longer to dry all of them if they are mixed together.
By using these tips the next time you do a load of laundry, you can save money, help your clothes last longer (and prevent fabric waste!), protect our water systems, and reduce your overall energy use (which is especially environmentally friendly if you get your energy from fossil fuels).
Written by Sarah Woodams ‘24(T5)
One Reply to “3 Tips for making your laundry routine more eco-friendly”
I was confused by the idea of washing in cold water, but your arguments interested me. Thank you for caring about the environment!