A washing machine in a laundry room. Photo by PlanetCare on Unsplash

When you're doing laundry, everything from the detergent you choose to the way you dry your clothes has an impact on the environment.

If you're looking to live more sustainably, there are some ways to change your laundry routine to shape the environment for the better.

Choosing Detergent

Shelves in a store stocked with laundry detergents.

Before you choose a new laundry detergent, first use what you have on hand or give it to someone who needs it, such as a friend or neighbor. Then, follow these tips when you go shopping:

  • Look for environmentally friendly packaging such as cardboard (usually found in powdered detergent) or swap detergent pods wrapped in plastic for more eco-friendly detergent sheets.

  • Seek out biodegradable and phosphate-free detergents.

  • Avoid ingredients such as brighteners, fabric softeners, bleach, and perfumed detergents.

Quiz

You want to live more sustainably but aren't sure which laundry detergent you should buy. Which option is best for the environment?

Using the Washing Machine

Towels in a front-loading washing machine.

  1. It's easy to save water and energy simply by turning down your water heater!

    Many heaters are set at 140 degrees F/60 degrees C. Consider turning your heater down to 120 degrees F/49 degrees C.

  2. Reduce your laundry machine temperatures, too! The ideal settings for laundry machines should be:

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Cold

65-80 degrees F/18-26 degrees C

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Warm

90-120 degrees F/32-49 degrees C

TIP: Consider doing less laundry overall. Wear clothes several times before washing, where possible, and aim to do one full load at a time.

Quiz

What's the best way to do one load of laundry each week?

Drying Your Laundry

As described in the video:

  • Use a clothesline to hang your laundry outdoors to dry or an indoor drying rack.

  • Dry for a short amount of time (about 10 minutes), then air dry.

  • Use dryer balls instead of fabric softener and dryer sheets. They provide natural softening, better air flow, and more efficient cleaning.

Quiz

Which use of the dryer takes up the least amount of energy?

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This Byte has been authored by

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Alison Myers

Production Editor