A better way to clean

These laundry solutions are better for your clothes, the planet, and you

Laundry room detox
Photo: Emily Nathan

Clean clothes, it turns out, are about a lot more than stain removal. White whites and bright colors are all well and good, but what about energy efficiency, water use, and those pesky chemical residues?

3 EASY STEPS TO ECO-FRIENDLY LAUNDRY

1. New habits

You may have heard it before, but it bears repeating: Wash full loads, using cold water when possible (heating water uses energy) and resisting the temptation to use more detergent than instructions recommend (extra just washes down the drain, increasing the amount of undesirable chemicals ending up in wastewater). And line-dry whatever you can. Not only does air-drying save energy, but it also saves your clothes. And the sun-kissed smell ― yum!

2. New products

News flash: Eco-friendly detergents are not necessarily more expensive. Choose detergents and other products that are plant-based, concentrated, and biodegradable. Go for oxygen bleach instead of chlorine bleach to get whites bright, and try white vinegar in place of fabric softener.

3. New appliances

Matt Golden of San Francisco–based Sustainable Spaces, which advises homeowners on greening their homes, recommends upgrading to an energy-efficient washer ― even if your current machine still works. "The amount of water consumed in older machines is significant. And energy-efficient washers remove more water, which makes for less dryer time," Golden says. Look for models with Energy Star certification (not just front-loaders); these models save 7,000 gallons of water each year per household and use one-third less energy than conventional machines. The up-front cost is higher, but the savings over the appliance's lifetime make up for it. Visit energystar.govfor a list of qualified washers.

THE ICK FACTOR

Traditional fabric softeners and dryer sheets contain ingredients derived from animal tallow; chlorine bleach can irritate skin and lungs; and the primary solvent used in conventional dry cleaning is a water pollutant and probable human carcinogen. The good news is that eliminating the ick is as easy as switching to greener products. Try Ecover fabric softener, Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day oxygen bleach stain remover, and Shaklee Get Clean dryer sheets.

NATURAL STAIN-REMOVAL TIPS

Blood: Rub salt into the stain and run under cold water. Repeat as needed, then wash in cold water. Note: We also love Ecover Stain Remover for this task.

Next: getting the grease out

 

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