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Laundry List

November 3, 2010

I’ve been reading a number of laundry related articles and blogs lately and so many of them have been devoted to saving time. Some of the suggestions have been good, but nothing new; however most have been useless in the timesaving department, or so I think.

Laundry is quite possibly the chore I least like to do; it seems to be never-ending and unless you’re like the nude cleaning housewife who was on Oprah recently, you will always have something in your hamper. So, I was thrilled when I realized that I had something to smile about this week while doing my laundry. My regular-sized laundry detergent was empty (stay with me). Looking back, I realized that the last laundry detergent purchase was just over one year ago. Now, I’ve done a lot of laundry over this past year so even I was shocked that the bottle had lasted this long. I truly believe that my green laundry habits have been behind this surprise (and my low utility bills), SO, of course, I’m sharing them with you.

The Stars Align
Moving into a new place last year with no laundry appliances put me in the market for buying some. So, I hunted down a good deal on a high efficiency, energy star set that fit my location. If you’re in the market to make a purchase I recommend checking out Craigslist for local sellers trying to unload their energy star appliances since this will probably be your best deal, but I would avoid even looking at any appliances anywhere that are not energy star. The discounted sales price on those machines will be quickly lost once you start paying for the additional electricity and water they use. My washer uses less than half the amount of water per load of a traditional washer, and the energy savings on both pieces makes me smile each month when my electric bill comes in.

Love the Cold
Always use cold water. There are so many good reasons for this. First, the water heater will not be needed, saving energy, which means saving money and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Second, cold water is more delicate on your belongings, keeping them from shrinking and leaving them brighter so they will not need replaced as often. Third, if you pre-treat stains prior to throwing them in the machine, there is no added benefit of washing them in hot water. (If I still haven’t convinced you, at least make sure to rinse the loads in cold water, limiting the use of hot water to some extent.)

Clean Smells Crisp, Not Chemically
There are so many laundry products on the market to make your linens smell clean. I think all those fragrances just smell chemically, not actually clean.  I opt for products that have no added scents. In doing this, I also save time and money too. Purchase products that are more concentrated, so that you don’t spend money on water that’s been added to them. Also make sure they are rated for your high efficiency machine. My favorite is from Shaklee and you can order it online, although Seventh Generation and Method also have good products at local stores. There is also no need to purchase additional stain remover products as most of the liquid laundry detergents can be used for pretreatment too. And who needs fabric softener? Add just a tiny amount of vinegar to your wash load and it has the same effect as name brand products. Dryer sheets are another money waster. Embrace the dryerballs; they are reusable and keep the static away. If that seems unrealistic, check out these biodegradable dryer sheets that you can throw in your compost like paper.

Laundry Compost
After each load, it is a good idea to clean out your lint trap to keep the dryer running efficiently, but did you know you can throw that lint into your compost pile? Try it.

Air It Out
If you are like me, you may not be able to air dry your laundry outside. Living in an apartment building is one hindrance, but so are my allergies. I’ve considered installing a clothesline in my shower like you see in hotels, but have not yet made that commitment. Instead, I hang some of my laundry on the hangers that they will later hang from in my closet and allow them to air dry inside and on larger items like sheets, I try hanging them over towel bars and the like to further minimize my energy use. In some respects this saves time because the loads of laundry coming out of the washing machine do not get backed up waiting for the dryer to finish up and the air drying can be done while time is spent doing other, more glamorous, things.

Freshly laundered sweaters

Laundry Aesthetics
Perhaps this is a stretch, but I think that doing laundry is more tolerable when I make it look good. Keeping the closets organized and folding the laundry neatly is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it can also save time and money. Hear me out. First, organized closets allow items to be easily found and possibly reduce the need to make new purchases, saving money. Second, neatly folded items require less maintenance, such as ironing, saving time. Folding laundry just as it comes out of the dryer further minimizes the ironing time. Taking care of the clothes in this manner keeps them looking better, lasting longer, and reduces the need to replace them, saving money. It’s simple too, just grab a cutting board and use it to help fold the clothes so they stack neatly. Lastly, a well-organized closet full of neatly folded linens saves space, and space is money. Even fitted sheets can be folded neatly in the same amount of time it takes to roll them in a ball and shove them in the closet. Check out the video below for confirmation.

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
-Try to start your laundry only at times when you can finish that same day. It will certainly never end if you spread out the misery over days by not putting it away the same day you wash it.
-Leave a stain stick or a small bottle of the detergent you purchase in the hamper so you can pre-treat the stains right away. This is very convenient, but you may also want to tie it to the lid so it doesn’t slide to the bottom on you.
-Wearing undershirts allows you to re-wear outer garments when they haven’t been soiled. Air out these garments to keep them smelling fresh.  Jeans can also be re-worn. Less laundry is less laundry.
-While shopping, try to purchase clothes and linens that require less care so you won’t have to wash them separately or dry-clean.
-Choose dry-cleaners that use eco-friendly products. It’s good for the environment, good for the workers, and better for your home once you bring the clothes back inside. Around Columbus try Swan or DryCleaning Station.

Some of these tips may save you time, but more importantly; they will save the planet and your budget.

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