Protecting the environment is so important. It can seem hard to make a difference as an individual, but every small action we take adds up, especially when it comes to the things we do on a daily or weekly basis. Here are some environmentally friendly laundry practices you can incorporate into your routine.
- Update your washing machine. If you’ve got an ancient, rattling washing machine with an abysmal energy rating, you might want to address that before you start looking at other eco-friendly cleaning products. UKwashing machines are almost all rated A or better nowadays, so you’re fine if you’ve picked up your washing machine within the last few years, but it might be time to think about upgrading if you’ve been using the same machine since the twentieth century. New machines may be expensive, but a more energy-efficient washing machine will be kinder on your electricity bill as well as on the planet.
- Do fewer loads. The washing machine uses water and energy every time you run it, so one of the simplest ways to develop a more sustainable laundry routine is to find ways to run it less often. For example, if you constantly find yourself doing half-loads because you’ve run out of pants, buy more pants. It’ll be worth it in the long run; now that you can wait until you have a full load of laundry, you’ll be reducing your environmental impact and saving on your electricity bill. You can also cut down on your washing by wearing your clothes more between washes; you shouldn’t really wear the same socks or underwear for days on end, but you don’t need to wash your jeans every day, or even every week.
- Do cooler washes. If you’re currently washing at high temperatures, try turning your washing machine down to 30°C and see if you notice a difference. You’ll probably find your clothes still come out clean, with a substantially smaller energy expense. If you find the results of a cool wash unsatisfying, though, try switching detergents. Biological detergents tend to have strong results at low temperatures, though you should opt for specialist detergent when washing delicate fabrics like silk or wool.
- Do shorter washes. If your machine has a quick wash setting, give it a try. Again, you’re likely to find it still gets your clothes clean, while saving water and energy.
- Use concentrated detergent. Looking for eco-friendly washing powder, or other types of environmentally friendly laundry detergent, can be a daunting task. How eco-friendly laundry detergent is depends on a lot of factors; is the laundry detergent container recycled, for example, and is it recyclable (take a look at what Persil is doing on that front)? There’s one simple quality that eco-friendly cleaning products need to share, though: they should be effective, because you’re wasting time and energy if you don’t actually end up with clean clothes, and ideally they should be effective in small quantities. The more concentrated detergent is, the less of it you need to use. If less detergent is being used, there’s less packaging and transportation involved in its manufacture. You can also try using less detergent in general; the recommended dose is a good starting point, but you may find that using slightly less still gives good enough results for your purposes.
- Skip the tumble drying. This one might depend on your circumstances. If you don’t have anywhere to hang clothes, for example, you might have to rely on your tumble dryer. But most homes have space for a clothes horse somewhere, even if you don’t have a garden for a washing line, and hanging your clothes up will get them just as dry without using up energy; it’ll just take a little longer.
By making just a few simple changes, you can create a more environmentally friendly laundry routine while still getting your clothes as clean as they can be.