Top 10 Money & Energy Saving Laundry Tips | Seventh Generation
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Top 10 Money & Energy Saving Laundry Tips

Author: Seventh Generation
  1. Choose Energy Star, HE Appliances. The efficiency of these machines is amazing! They require about 40 percent less water per load, consume up to 60 percent less energy, and are more effective in removing water during the spin cycle -- so less time in the dryer.
  2. Wash Full Loads. Sort clothes and schedule laundering so you can wash only full loads. It takes almost as much electricity to run a small load as it does a full one, and it is better for the machine to have a full load during the spin cycle so it doesn't fly off balance.
  3. Wash in Cold Water. Every once in a while you may have a load that requires warm water, but tests show that cold water detergents are very effective for cleaning fabric in cold water. Washing just 80% of your laundry in cold water for a year could save you more than $60 in energy costs -- and up to $100 if you live in an area with high electric rates. (Find out how much you could save with our Get Out of Hot Water calculator.)
  4. Follow Directions. Use the amount of laundry detergent that the manufacturer recommends. Using more detergent than necessary actually gets in the way of effective cleansing of the fabrics, which will then require an extra rinse cycle, which uses more energy and water.
  5. Line Dry. You can save on energy costs by line-drying, and even when the sun isn't shining or the weather's too cold, you can use clothing racks indoors in place of a clothes dryer.
  6. Wash Less. Your clothes will last longer. Some clothing belongs in the wash after only one use, but many garments can stand two or even three wearings before they need washing.
  7. Don't Overload or Underload Your Dryer. Dry a full load in your dryer, but don't overload. It uses way too much energy, and it causes excessive wrinkling, which in turn may force you to iron your clothes, using even more energy.
  8. Don't Over Dry. Set the timer on your dryer for the minimum time needed to dry your clothes. You can always add an extra ten or fifteen minutes at the end, but over-drying wastes energy!
  9. Take out your clothes as soon as the dryer stops. Take out your clothes and fold them or hang them up right away, before wrinkles have time to set it. This will cut out the need for ironing, which saves electricity and your time.
  10. Turn Off the Iron. Go ahead and turn off the iron a few minutes before you finish. The iron takes a while to cool, so you'll be able to complete the last bunch of your clothes with the heat remaining. Also, turn off the iron when your work is interrupted so you don't end up leaving it on for hours.

photo: cmiddings


daniel chauvin picture
daniel chauvin
These are great tips. Thank you.
Melissa2245 picture
All year long, my dryer is lonesome because I have a couple of drying racks and some Shaker pegs in the room. The only items I choose to wash in hot water and dry in a hot dryer are bath towels, wash cloths, and pillow cases, and dish drying towels. Unless it is rainy and humid, all items dry well in a day. I spend very little on electricity for a dryer after adopting this very old, very old-fashioned rack system used by grandmothers and great grandmothers. What is old is new again!
Belinda S. Colley picture
Belinda S. Colley
Your clothes will also last longer if you don't dry them in the drier.
Consumer Insights Team picture
Consumer Insights Team
@dunnvineyards- Great question. Our detergent is tested down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The average tap water temperature is usually around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the depth of your well, your water will vary in temperature based on the surrounding ground temperatures. It is likely that the water is above 40 degrees, but to be sure, it's probably best to test it at home during those cold winter months.
tristrambryan picture
Does anyone know if full-sized NON-automatic washers are still made? I used one through the early 1960s, but haven't seen them in stores for a long time. (I have a broken one in my basement, but can't get parts for it anymore.) Their use involved filling the tub, adding detegent, agitating for the appropriate time (fancy models had an timer that could be set to buzz) then removing laundry to the spinner on the side. You spun the soapy water back into the tub, then removed the damp,soapy items to a large laundry tub previously filled with clear water. After sloshing by hand, they went back into the spinner (you could direct the rinse output down the sink or back into a tub). A second big tub of water allowed you to repeat for a 2nd rinse, add bluing etc. You could also direct the water hose into the center of the spinner for a final rinse. (I still see these big double laundry sinks in catalogs.) Spin as needed, then remove and hang. After this, you REUSED all 3 tubs of water for the 2nd load adding a bit more detergent, if it was needed. Some folks did the entire laundry without refilling these tubs -- it depended on the quantity and dirtiness of the laundry. You always did whites first and darks last, starting with hot water, but letting it cool naturally throughout the rest of the laundry. My mother was horrifed at the waste of automatic washers that used all-new water for each load and wouldn't have one in house. I don't recall clothes washed in this matter looking or smelling dirty. I think the time has come to rethink this older, water-efficient laundry method. Sign me, Old Lady in Maine
amyleblanc picture
We solved the "crunch factor" a long time ago… we dry the load of laundry partially in our dryer and THEN hang the clothes on the line! We're also very careful to hang with the trouser creases, to straighten collars and cuffs, and hang shirts "square", etc, so they never need ironing. I think freedom from the ironing board is the best.
AngN picture
ok, so please can anyone help with line drying and the very stiff clothes that result from it? i have a special needs child who has extreme sensitivities to how fabric "feels". how can i line dry and get softer fabrics without only purchasing bamboo based fiber clothes/cloth diapers? i tried natural fibers like hemp, and it is like putting card board between my baby's legs! i tried vinegar rinses, etc. also, i live in way upper midwest, so most of our line drying is done inside the home near a wood stove not outside because our clothes get moldy outside before they get dry. thanks in advance for any suggestions.
hedgewitch3 picture
When I lived in southern MD, I had well water - and yes, winters it was much colder. I found 7th Gen products to work just as well in winter as in summer. I have a small pet hedgehog rescue in my living room : ) I use fabric liners and fleece blankets for the critters to burrow in as shavings and paper bedding aggitates my allergies and asthma. Naturally I want to control odors and germs. Once upon a time I used chlorine bleach until learning of the nasty environmental effects. Now when there is an illness issue I use either peroxide or white vinegar in the wash. Both are economical, environmentally friendly and, most importantly, help control odors and germs. For routine laundering with additional odor control I've found a bit of baking soda works well. It softens water helping to release dirt and grime (and in the case of hedgehogs, poo) from fabrics and thus the odors that may be trapped. I now live in an apartment with no real dirt (lawn) and no outside lines. That doesn't stop me though - I have two folding dryer racks that I set outside and drape laundry on in summer/warmer weather. During the colder months, I've actually set one in my kitchen, doing just one wash load per day. The laundry drying indoors helps keep humidity in the otherwise dry air of the Colorado Rockies while also saving resources and costs.
dolphinparadise picture
Detergent - Making your own detergent saves a LOT of money, & it's so fast & easy to do! I'm surprised/disappointed this article didn't mention it, but then they might lose detergent sales, so obviously their dedication is limited... Here's our HOMEMADE POWDER DETERGENT recipe that works great: Each batch yields approximately 32 ounces (between 32-64 loads based on how many Tbsp used per load). •1 bar of shaved bar soap (Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha- best) •1 cup of borax •1 cup of washing soda *GRATE soap & process in food processor. Thoroughly stir ingredients together; enjoy the results! *Regardless of washer type: USE 1 Tbsp per normal load; 2 Tbsp per heavily soiled load. --- Water temperature - Obviously you still need to use hot water for cloth diapers or other similarly soiled items for sanitizing purposes. Follow up with line drying n the sun for optimum cleaning without harsh chemicals. Also, use vinegar in the rinse cycle - but only if the fabric allows use of vinegar. I love how our diapers smell after line-drying in the sun. :)
MotherLodeBeth picture
Per #6 'Wash Less. Your clothes will last longer. Some clothing belongs in the wash after only one use, but many garments can stand two or even three wearings before they need washing.' I spot clean many items. Like underarm areas, or areas where there may be a food spot, dirt etc. And often items simply needs refreshing so I will do a quick cold rinse with a cup of vinegar which removes odor as well as stains. Then I line dry.
dunnvineyards picture
We are on a well and, in the winter, our water is more like ice water. While I do use cold water in the warmer months, is there a limit to how cold the water can be and still have an effective wash?
amanda77kr picture
Thanks! I only worry about sanitizing when cleaning up, let's just say flu symptoms. And I'll continue to use cold water most of the time. Appreciate the response!
momonaspiritualjourney picture
Thanks for this useful post and all you are doing to help the next 7 generations. I'm a transplanted Brit in Kansas (via 3 other States!) and used your products for many years in the UK. I was very happy to see Seventh Generation making it to Wichita, KS, and also being sold in our new Natural Grocer store. Will be sharing this article on my facebook page. I'm a blogger too so do let me know if your company is interested in blog posts or giveaways. Cheers Sarah Lawrence Hinson A Mom On A Spiritual Journey
Consumer Insights Team picture
Consumer Insights Team
Amanda77kr- There really isn't anything that needs or requires washing in warm or hot water. That said, there are times when you might find it beneficial or helpful. Warm and hot water can help to kill dust mites that could be living in your sheets, so occasionally washing your sheets in warm or hot water might be something that you prefer to do. It might be helpful to do this with your towels occasionally based on how you store them, but it isn't necessary for every wash. When it comes to sanitizing laundry, it can get tricky. Detergents don't sanitize, they clean. They pull all the dirt and grime (and some of the bacteria) out into the water and wash them away, but they don't kill anything. In order to really "sanitize" your laundry, you will either need to use chlorine bleach (which we are not huge proponents of), or boiling hot water. Something to think about is how you choose to dry your laundry and how this can affect any post-wash germs. Sunlight is one of the best ways to kill bacteria on clothing, as UV rays kill germs. Line drying is not only ecological, but the best way to kill germs. If you don't live somewhere where you can line dry outdoors year round (like us in Vermont), the heat from the dryer does help with this too, but not to the same extent. It is really difficult to fully disinfect laundry without using harsh chemicals or temperatures on fabrics, so we say, only disinfect when its really necessary.
amanda77kr picture
Is there anything that should be washed in warm water, like towels or sheets? Or can everything be safely sanitized in cold water?