Laundry Tips: 6 Ways to Save Money & Energy!

January 22, 2013 / in

Laundry is one of those inevitable things – we all have to do it! According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family does nearly 400 loads of laundry each year. And, of course, that costs money – in electricity, water, detergent and other associated costs. We’ve put together some tips to help you save money and energy when you launder your clothes, towels and linens! Here we go…

Go for Full Capacity

Load the washing machine to capacity when possible. Most people tend to under-load rather than overload their washers. A regular capacity washer (4.0 cubic feet) typically holds 12 to 16 pounds of laundry per load. Large capacity home washers (4.5 cubic feet) hold up to 20 pounds. Washing one large load will take less energy than washing two loads on a low or medium setting. Tip: If you’re not sure how much your laundry loads weigh (and really, who is?!), load some typical items (tops, jeans, towels) into a normal trash bag and weigh it on your bathroom scale.

Use Less Detergent

Take an eagle-eye look at the directions and measurements on your detergent. There’s a good chance you are using too much. Get out a Sharpie and mark the measurements. In most cases, you’ll only need the lowest one. In fact, using too much detergent can be detrimental as it allows for a build-up of detergent residue on your clothes and linens, and prevents the detergent from doing its job of getting your clothes really clean.

Say Goodbye to Your Fabric Softener

Depending on the brand you use, fabric softener can cost you between $60-$75 per year. It also leaves a residue on your clothes and towels. (In fact you should NEVER use fabric softener on towels, as it reduces the towel’s natural absorption.) To maximize the absorbency of a towel, add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle, once a month, to restore the towel to full absorbency. The vinegar removes any excess detergent, which can affect the towels’ absorbency.

Update Your Machines

Is your washer over 10 years old? It’s estimated that there are 76 million top-loading washers with agitators, 25 million of which are at least 10 years old, still in use across the country. Washers manufactured before 1998 are far less efficient than newer models. Together, these inefficient washers cost consumers $2.8 billion each year in energy and water.

Buy Efficient Machines

Looking for a new washer or dryer? Look for the ENERGY STAR symbol. ENERGY STAR certified clothes washers consume approximately 20% less energy, using 270 KWh of electricity and costing about $85 to run, each year.  As well, an ENERGY STAR certified washer uses 35% less water than regular washers. Over the machine’s lifetime, that’s a savings of 27,000 gallons of water!

Put it Out to Dry

On a sunny day, try hanging your clothes on an outdoor clothesline. Line-drying can save you about $85 a year. That’s the average cost of running a clothes dryer, according to the California Energy Commission. Tip: The sun also acts as a natural method whitener, so get those white towels outside!

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