Tips for a Greener Laundry Room

Going green in the laundry room not only means doing your part for the earth. You'll also keep your family healthier, make your clothes last longer, and watch your utility bills drop. Cleaning never felt this good.

Non-chlorine bleach does not leach the toxins of chlorine based bleach.Use Green Detergents, Fabric Softeners, and Stain Removers: Detergents, fabric softeners, and stain removers get washed down our drains and into our waterways, but many of them contain pollutants such as petroleum and phosphates. They also might not work as well as you think: many laundry products contain "optical brighteners" and artificial scents that are designed to make your clothes seem cleaner, but in reality they leave residue that is not only damaging to your fabrics, but can also trigger allergic and other physical reactions. Seek out eco-friendly detergents that are made with plant-based ingredients, contain no phosphates, and contain no allergy-inducing scents. As living green becomes more and more mainstream, eco-friendly laundry products are becoming easier to find and affordable. For starters, check out Seventh Generation and Citra Suds laundry detergents. And if you must use bleach, try a non-chlorine product, such as Seventh Generation Chlorine-Free Bleach. You can go a step further by taking a DIY approach with basic natural household cleaners. Rather than purchasing stain removal products, use baking soda and white vinegar to lift out tough stains. And you can keep your whites white without using bleach, which is an environmental hazard and which produces noxious fumes that just shouldn't be in your home. Use an oxygen-based cleaner instead, such as OxoBrite or Clorox Oxygen Action. Not only are these better for the environment and for your health, but they're easier on your fabrics, too.

Front load washers use less water than top load washers.Switch to Energy Efficient Appliances: It's worth investing in a new, energy-efficient clothes washer and clothes dryer if you are due for a replacement. Many new models are much more efficient than those manufactured 10–12 years ago.

ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers reduce energy use by about 30% compared to standard washers to clean clothes. They also reduce water consumption by over 50%, and have a better spin cycle allowing for less drying time.

The appliances in an average American household produces the equivalent of twice the air pollution of a car. You can decrease your consumption by investing in a new, Energy Star rated clothes washer, which meets strict governmental energy efficiency standards, such as the Whirlpool Duet Sport HT Series 27-inch Front-Load Washer. In general, front-loading washers use far less water and are designed to use less detergent. So even though they can be more expensive than top load machines, they are more efficient and could save you money on your utility bills. And rather than throwing your clothes in the energy-hungry dryer, which shortens the life of your clothes and linens, consider line drying. Not only will your laundry achieve a natural freshness from hanging in the sun, but your towels will retain more absorbency over time, and your fleeces will stay fluffier, longer. If you live in a colder, wetter climate, use an indoor drying rack. Energy Star does not offer ratings for clothes dryers, but in general, self-standing units are more energy efficient than stacked washer/dryer unit. The Maytag Centennial Series27-inch Electric Dryer includes an "IntelliDry Sensor" that performs a similar function.

Drying racks save energy and extend the life of your clothes.Other Green Laundry Tips: Unless you can find a green dry cleaner that doesn't use harsh chemicals, avoid dry cleaning your clothes. You can refresh your clean but tired clothes by hanging them in the sun, rather than putting them through the wash, and you can perk up your clean linens with a natural linen water such as Earth Friendly Products Natural Spa Linen Water.

Wash your laundry with cold water whenever possible. Hot water heating accounts for about 90 percent of the energy your machine uses to wash clothes — only 10 percent goes to electricity used by the washer motor. Depending on the clothes and local water quality (hardness), many homeowners can effectively do laundry exclusively with cold water, using cold water laundry detergents. Switching to cold water can save the average household more than $30 annually (with a gas water heater) and more than $40 annually (with an electric water heater).

To save water, try to wash full loads or, if you must wash a partial load, reduce the level of water appropriately. Washing full loads can save you more than 3,400 gallons of water each year.

Don't over-dry your clothes. A dryer operating an extra 15 minutes per load can cost you up to $34, every year. If your dryer has a moisture sensor that will automatically turn the machine off when clothes are done, use it to avoid over-drying. Many dryers come with energy-saving moisture or humidity sensors that shut off the heat when the clothes are dry. If your dryer doesn't have any of these feature, try to match the cycle length to the size and weight of the load.

Your dryer's lint trap is an important energy saver. Dryers work by moving heated air through wet clothes, evaporating and then venting water vapor outside. If the dryer cannot provide enough heat, or move air sufficiently through the clothes, they will take longer to dry or may not dry at all. One of the easiest things you can do to increase drying efficiency is to clean the lint trap before each and every. This step can save you up to $34 each year.

Dry full loads, or reduce drying time for partial loads. Try to dry loads made up of similar fabrics, so the entire load dries just as the cycle ends.

Recycle your old appliances when it’s time to replace them with new models. Properly recycling products permanently removes them from the electric grid, conserves resources, and makes room for more energy-efficient models. Learn more at energystar.gov/recycle.