GREEN TIP: Sustainable laundry practices will keep your family healthy and looking great while saving money and the environment. Look for eco-friendly laundry products, conserve energy and be good to your clothes.
The main problem with laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and stain removers is that they contain petroleum, phosphates and synthetic chemicals that leave residue on the clothes. These ingredients cause allergies, irritate the skin and eyes and carry other severe health risks.
Then they get washed down our drains and into our waterways polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas and are toxic to fish and wildlife.
Look for Eco-Friendly Laundry Products
Consider using eco-friendly laundry products. Always read labels and pay attention to what you’re buying, just because a product claims to be “natural” doesn’t mean it’s non-toxic.
Look for labels that indicate that the product is readily biodegradable, made with plant- and vegetable-based ingredients (instead of petroleum-based), contain no phosphates, and no allergy-inducing scents.
Ingredients you should avoid are butyl cellosolve (dangerous toxic chemical), petroleum, triclosan and phosphates. Also try to avoid chemicals known as phthalates that are used in detergents with fragrances, they have been linked to cancer.
If you must use bleach, try a non-chlorine product, use an oxygen-based cleaner instead, it is better for the environment and for your health. Or, I found a recipe for a safer bleach alternative at Grit.com.
Here’s the recipe:
12 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
Mix. Add 2 cups per wash load or put in spray bottle and use as a household cleaner. For all the details, visit http://www.grit.com/blogs/Safer-Bleach-Alternative.aspx.
About 90% of the energy used for washing clothes in a conventional top-load washer is for heating the water. There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes—use less water and use cooler water.
Unless you’re dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half.
o Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
o Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
o Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
o Don’t over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
o Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
o Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
o Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.
o Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Air-drying is recommended by clothing manufacturers for some fabrics
Source: U.S. Department of Energy
Be Good to Your Clothes
The folks at Green Living Ideas have some great tips for extending the life of your clothes:
o Limit dryer use to save energy, money, and threads. Your dryer can wreak havoc on clothes by fading the colors and affecting the quality of the fabric.
o Add a couple of teaspoons of table salt in with your detergent to make your clothes brighter and prevent colors from running.
For more tips about using salt in the wash, check out HowStuffWorks: Uses for Salt: Doing the Laundry.
o Add baking soda or distilled white vinegar to detergent to clean, deodorize, and brighten clothes.
o Turn your clothing inside out in the washer and dryer. This prevents the outside from getting worn out.
o Switch to cold water wash—doing so not only saves energy but also prevents colors from bleeding or fading, which tends to happen with hot or warm water.
o Make sure to button and zipper up your clothes. This prevents snags that could ruin your clothes after several washes.
o Keep lights, darks, and delicate clothing separate to keep colors bright and clothing in good shape.
Source: Green Living Ideas