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June 18, 2018  |  Login
Use Your Washer and Dryer Less
By Elizabeth B. Goldsmith PhD, Betsy Sheldon
When you replace your old-dinosaur washer and dryer with the most efficient models on the market and maintain them well, you can see your energy use drop. But the most effective way to cut down on their energy consumption? Use your washer and dryer less often.

Hand-Washing Small Loads

Unless you live in a commune or are part of a very large family, you're likely to have some small loads to wash. Socks and undies just don't take up much space in the machine, for example, making the electricity a load of laundry consumes hard to justify. The greener choice is to hand-wash any small loads you encounter in your laundry adventures.

For items that require temperatures a little more torrid than tepid (cleaning rags, for example), fill a bucket or the laundry sink with steam-emitting hot water and soap, scrub the clothing by hand, and let the items soak. This practice keeps your hot-water use under control, but gives you the peace of mind that the grimiest, germiest articles get a high-powered cleaning.

Hand-washing is a practical option for lingerie and other garments too delicate for the agitator or even the gentler frontload tumbler. And for any less-than-full-load-sized piles of dirty laundry, a scrub in the laundry tub can be an easy cleaning option that saves the wear and tear on your washer and cuts down on water and electricity.

If you like scent, add a couple of drops of essential oils to hand washables. Lavender is a favorite, said to induce a state of relaxation. Citrus or peppermint offers a fresh, wake-up aroma.

Wash and Wear (and Wear and Wear)

Adherents to the wear-it-once school of fashion assume that a single wearing can dirty or soil an item so badly that it must be washed again. Sometimes that's true, but as long as you're not sweating profusely or rolling around in the mud regularly, many outer garments - sweaters, jackets, even casual pants - can be worn two, three, or more times before they need cleaning.

If you're concerned that your preworn clothing smells "stale" or looks worn, try these tips to freshen up your apparel without dedicating yet another wash cycle to getting it clean:

  • Air it out. Hang your clothing on a hanger in a room with good circulation. Better yet, weather permitting, let it hang outside in the sun for a bit. Turn items inside-out to avoid fading and to expose the underside to the disinfecting powers of the sun.

  • Give it a rest. When you let your garments breathe between wearings, you can often wear them more times without feeling like a walking laundry hamper. If you allow the jeans you wore on day one to air out on day two, they seem "cleaner" when you wear them again on day three.

  • Brush it off. If you see lint, cat hair, grit, or other stuff collecting on the material, take a clothes or a lint brush to the item.

  • Spot-clean stains. The sooner you catch stains, the better. Sometimes all it takes is a dab of cold water to get out a bit of dirt. (See the "Removing stains" section, later in this chapter, for more information.)

  • Hang it back up. Remind the kids to hang up their bath towels so that they can use them again.

Line-Drying, Inside and Out

Not only does sun-drying cut down on your energy use, the disinfectant properties of sunshine help kill bacteria as clothing and bedding dry, aided by gentle breezes. more



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