image c/o yay!everyday
Recycled Fashion's Guide to a Green Laundry
1. Cool wash
Consider a laundry wash cycle using cold water instead of hot. The majority of us launder clothes in hot water, but did you know water heating accounts for 90% of the energy consumption of washing machines, and heat used to wash clothes in hot water can generate as much as five times more greenhouse gases than clothes washed in cold water *BCHydro. If we choose to launder in cold over hot water, we are not only saving energy and money, but also saving our clothes. Hot water machine washes on coloured laundry has a tendency to shrink, fade and wrinkle our clothes. As a rule, it might be worth washing whites or stained laundry in hot water, but wash everything else using a cold water setting on your washing machine.
2. Hand wash and spot clean
How convenient it is to throw a stained garment straight into the laundry basket, however it may be more efficient to spot clean that stain in the laundry sink, with a bit of elbow grease and stain remover. Shop bought stain removers include Sard Wonder Soap or Vanish, although bicarb soda mixed with a few drops of water might work just as well, rubbed into stains and left overnight before washing out.
Image c/o dottie angel
Hand washing the occasional worn and unstained garment in the laundry sink won't do any harm either. Consider filling the sink and washing a few pieces with soap and water, you'll be using less energy, and less water by doing so.
3. Front load vs top load
On the market to buy a new washing machine? If you can afford to, it may be wise to choose a front-load washing machine, although they can be more expensive than the ol' top-loader.
While a top-loading machine requires enough water to cover all the clothes in its drum, a front-loading washer needs only a third of that amount because its drum is set horizontally in the machine *housewares.about.com.
4. Earth friendly laundry detergent
When shopping for laundry detergent, try to look out for earth friendly laundry detergents, which exclude any harmful chemicals in favour of natural cleaning agents and essential oils. Moving away from chemically enhanced laundry detergents will not only be kinder to your clothes, but better for your skin, and the environment too. An article written on the potentially harmful toxins found in laundry detergent can be found here.
5. Ditch your laundry detergent!
Have you considered ditching shop purchased detergent altogether? There is a great homemade detergent 'recipe' found on Why Not Sew? blog here, which costs an estimated $6.00 for 576 loads.
Image c/o WhyNotSew?
Alternatively, bicarb soda, vinegar, and a cap full of eucalyptus essential oil with each wash can work just as well, treating stubborn stains by spot cleaning.
6. Hang it out to dry
An average drying-machine cycle uses just over 4kWh of energy and produces around 1.8kg CO2. If all households with a tumble dryer dried one load of washing outside each week, instead of by machine, they would save over a million tonnes of CO2 in a year *UK stats 2008 c/o guardian.co.uk. Outside washing lines and balconies are a great way to get your clothes dried by natural sunlight. Sunlight can also help to kill bacteria, which is particularly beneficial for cold water washes.
Image c/o Solly, Mara, Spam
It is worth noting however, that sunlight can cause fading in coloured garments, so either line dry colours in the shade, or inside out if in direct sunlight. Not the right weather or space for outside drying? No problem, hang clothes on an inside rack in a ventilated space, or some say hanging clothes in the bathroom, over the shower dries them quickly?
Some families may understandably struggle without a dryer, however dryer use can be limited to finishing off a load if it hasn't quite dried on the line, instead of wet from the washing machine
7. Reduce spin cycle
Spin cycle's are great for bed sheets and linen, however, they can be a little rough on dedicates and cause twisting and wrinkling in some clothing pieces. On warmer days, it may be beneficial to take out clothes before the spin cycle altogether, or reduce the amount of time the cycle continues, give them a bit of a shake, and hang straight on the outside line. This may also reduce ironing time, as garments are not twisted too much before drying out.
8. Wear clothes more than once before washing
Underwear, yes!, but not all outer garments need to be washed after each wear. Throwing our once-worn laundry into the machine after minimal wear is all too easy. We all love freshly washed clothing, but it isn't always necessary. On a previous Recycled Fashion blog post:
Canadian College student Josh Le undertook an experiment. He purchased a pair of untreated denim jeans by Nudie brand for $165, and wore them 330 times without washing between September of 2009 and December of 2010.
"My professor mentioned that she researches on textiles and bacteria, so it piqued my curiosity there," Le said. "I half jokingly said we should do a bacterial analysis on them [Le's jeans] and that's where it sort of started."
The 20-year-old student carried around paper towels to dab out stains. If the jeans smelled, he might stick them in the freezer overnight or let them hang for a few hours.
Le's jeans were then swabbed and tested for bacteria, enlisting the help of his professor, Rachel McQueen.. "There did not appear to be differences in the bacterial carriage depending on whether the jeans had been worn for 15 months or only 13 days," McQueen's findings read.
9. Avoid dry clean only garments
Dry cleaning uses a chemical solvent rather than water on textiles. Most dry cleaners use a chemical called perchloroethylene which has been known to cause potentially nasty side effects. More here. Of course dry cleaning bills are expensive too. Check the washing instructions on a garment before you buy it. If a garment label reads "dry clean only," it might be worth questioning whether it would be worth buying or not. 5 eco-friendly alternatives to dry cleaning can be found here.
As per Recycled Fashion's previous blog post
Eco-Chic Home by Emily Anderson, is a book which embraces eco projects and ideas for the house. Here is a snippet, with an excellent tip to utilise lemons in your laundry wash:
Eco-bit: Natural Brightening. "After a few washes, clothes can become a little dingy. This is because soap builds up and gets trapped in the fabric. Bleach is one solution for lighter colors, but bleach is a highly toxic substance that can take centuries to decompose. There are better eco-options available when it comes to buying bleach, but the best thing to do is to avoid using it at all. As an alternative, try letting the sun do the whitening for you. Add one-half cup of lemon juice to your wash and hang it up to dry outside. When mixed with the heat of the sun, the lemon juice acts as a natural bleach"
Image c/o we heart it
Melbourne (South East) thrifters are lucky, as we can buy lemons at 10c each from most local op shops!
Do you have any green laundry tips to share?