Happy baby in laundry basket with clean sheets

Laundry is inevitable, but practicing green laundry tips can help you complete this necessary task while staying conscious about the effect it has on the environment and your budget. Here are some eco-friendly laundry cleaning and drying tips to get you started.

Step 1: Wash Full Loads

Only do a load of laundry when you have enough clothes to fill the washer. Washers work best when doing full loads and water is used more efficiently. Most conventional washers use about 40 gallons of water per cleaning cycle, so a lot of water can be wasted if you’re only washing a few items. While socks and undergarments require washing after use, pants and shirts don’t always need a wash.

Helpful Tips

Most washers have settings for load size. Make sure you use the appropriate setting for the amount of clothes you’re washing.

Clothes that have been worn but are not dirty can be washed with a short wash cycle. This ensures that you’re not over-washing and using more water and electricity than needed.

Soak heavily soiled items before washing them to cut down on a second cycle.

After washing, do another spin cycle to remove more water and cut down on drying time.

Step 2: Turn Down the Heat

A large majority of the energy used to do laundry goes towards heating the water used. The less hot water you use, the less electricity and/or gas you will use each wash cycle. Use cold water to wash most items, only using warm or hot water when necessary, such as when cleaning items with ground-in stains and oily residue. Simply switching temperatures from hot to warm gives substantial energy savings.

Helpful Tip

Check the temperature setting on your water heater. It should be set at a maximum of 120º F. You can reduce your overall hot water energy costs by lowering the temperature 10 degrees or more.

Step 3: Use Correct Detergent Amount

Be sure to correctly measure the amount of detergent you use so that it is appropriate for the size of the load. Too much detergent can create too many suds, causing your washer to work harder and use up more energy than necessary.

Step 4: Organize Your Loads

Grouping clothes/item types together before drying allows you to dry at the proper heat level for the appropriate amount of time, making your dryer use more efficient. If you have to do back-to-back loads, dry lighter materials first. They dry quicker and leave the dryer warmed up for the heavier items, which means less energy used to dry. Drying multiple loads one after the other also saves energy because the dryer stays warm.

Dry appropriately sized loads. Don’t overload your dryer. A crowded dryer means less space for garments to tumble around, which means longer drying times and more energy used. At the same time, take care not to under-load your dryer. Drying just a few items can use up the same amount of energy as a full load.

Step 5: Dry On Appropriate Settings

Your dryer is designed with different settings for specific types of garments and materials. Use the appropriate setting for the type of load you’re drying. For example, delicate/permanent press should be used on lighter-fabric items. Not only is it easier on the garments, it saves energy since these clothes don’t need as much heat to dry. Many dryer models have a moisture-sensing setting that allows you to dry clothes for the length of time needed by shutting down when the clothes are dry, compared to a standard set 20- to 30-minute dry cycle.

Step 6: Clean the Lint Filter

Clean out your dryer’s lint filter after every load (or before you start the next one). While it might seem like this wouldn’t cause much of a difference in regards to your dryer’s performance, good air flow through the filter allows the machine to work more efficiently while the lint is collected properly. Cleaning the filter also cuts down on wear and tear on your dryer; if the filter becomes too full, it can damage the unit over time.

That’s all there is to it! These green laundry tips will help you save energy and money when cleaning and drying your clothes.