Laundry has come a long way since the days of washboards and line drying in the sun. Somehow it’s become a water guzzling, energy wasting, plastic producing event. But does it really have to be this way? We think there’s a happy medium: sustainable laundry day.
Let us take you back to a simpler time. A time when clothes were washed when they were actually dirty, and clothes dried on their own.
You don’t have to sacrifice any cleanliness to adopt a sustainable laundry day routine. In fact, you’ll actually extend the life of your clothes, and save money on your energy bills at the same time.
Before we get into our top tips for sustainable laundry day, let’s explore why we should change our laundry routine in the first place.
Why is laundry day wasteful?
The modern way of doing laundry uses a lot of water and heat. The average load of laundry uses about 50 litres of water. Tumble drying our clothes uses between 1800 and 5000 watts of energy per load.
To top it off, we continually buy our laundry detergent in bulky plastic bottles. While these plastic bottles are technically recyclable, only 8% of plastic waste actually get recycled. Where do these laundry detergent bottles end up? You guessed it–the landfill.
Intervening on any of these levels can have a huge impact on our laundry day routine. Just by changing a few of your laundry day habits, you can adopt a truly sustainable laundry day routine.
Here are our 7 top tips for a sustainable laundry day routine.
- Hang dry your clothes.
Bypassing your dryer altogether and hang drying your clothes is key to a sustainable laundry day. Heat dryers are the biggest energy drain of your laundry routine. Instead of spending the extra money on heat, you can choose to save money and let your clothes dry on their own. Just buy a sturdy collapsible laundry rack that you can store when not in use.
Hang drying your clothes also preserves their integrity, keeping them in great shape and preventing stretching.
- Use dryer balls.
If for whatever reason you can’t give up tumble drying your clothes, use dryer balls. Wool dryer balls absorb a ton of water that would otherwise just prolong your drying time. They cut drying time for your clothes by about 30-50%. Plus, they add a beautiful, natural touch to your laundry room.
- Wash in cold water.
Washing your laundry in cold water is another high-impact solution that’s key to a sustainable laundry day. Heating your water is an unnecessary energy drain. Most people think that clothes won’t get clean in cold water, but that’s just not true. While you need warm water for cleaning dishes, the same doesn’t go for laundry. That’s because laundry doesn’t get nearly as dirty as dishes.
If you’re worried about stains on clothes, make sure to spot-treat stains beforehand (more on that later).
- Buy plastic-free laundry detergent.
Take a stand against single-use plastic waste by buying plastic-free laundry detergent. Continually buying laundry detergent in bulky plastic bottles contributes to the plastic waste problem.
Roots Refillery has several plastic-free laundry detergent options. You can grab an empty bottle and refill it with liquid laundry detergent. If you want to divert plastic AND save water, you can also opt for laundry strips. Good Juju laundry strips have scented and unscented options. If you prefer detergent in powder form, Botanical Trading Co laundry powder is a great unscented option.
- Wash your clothes less often.
A sustainable laundry day is one that doesn’t happen too frequently. Washing your clothes only when necessary saves a lot of water. Most people wash their clothes frequently for fear of reeking. In reality, we can wear clothes several times before washing them (with the exception of undies and socks, of course).
When it comes to t-shirts, pants, and jeans, just give your clothes the good old smell test. If they don’t reek, just fold them up and toss them back in your drawer for another wear. While you might not be able to get away with this in the sweaty summer months, this is totally doable in the colder winter months. Additionally, you can simply spot clean dirty spots on jeans and t-shirts instead of full-on washing them.
- Use natural stain removers.
Opt for natural versions of stain removers instead of the generic brands. Generic stain removers have harsh chemicals like chlorinated bleach, which is harmful when inhaled, as well as a list of other toxins. These toxins are not only harmful to our health, but they go down the drain and wreak havoc on our waterways.
- Upgrade your dryer.
If you’re a tried-and-true tumble dryer addict, take a look at your dryer and consider an upgrade. If it’s 25 years old or older, it’s time for a new one. Choose a new dryer with an Energy Star rating, which uses about 20% less energy than standard dryers.
On that note, don’t knock hang-drying until you’ve tried it. We know it can be addicting to take toasty warm clothes out of the dryer in the winter. There are other creative ways to satisfy that craving for warmth. Make yourself a hot cup of tea or a hot chocolate as a reward for your successful sustainable laundry day!
A laundry list of benefits
The best part about adopting a sustainable laundry routine is that you’ll save money on your energy and water bill. You’ll quickly find that you were needlessly wasting these resources all along! Plus, eco-friendlyeco friendly laundry detergent presents other benefits, like less irritation and unscented varieties.
Apart from saving money, washing less saves time. Who doesn’t want to spend less of their time doing chores? And, the cherry on top: skipping the dryer means not having to worry about accidentally shrinking your favourite cashmere sweater. Perks for days!
Looking for more home sustainability tips? Check out our blog on reducing kitchen waste!