Many of us know by now that front-loading washing machines clean clothes more thoroughly, cause less wear, and use less water and energy than a majority of their top-loading counterparts. Machines that bear the Energy Star logo typically use between 18 and 25 gallons per load, roughly half of the 40-plus gallons guzzled by older, top-loading machines.
As water worries continue to rise, the washing machine market will also likely see more products like Sanyo’s Aqua AWD-AQ1, which reports being able to clean clothes without water.
In addition to a normal washing cycle, the machine can convert oxygen in the air to ozone. Ozone has a strong oxidation action, which when sprayed on clothing eliminates bacteria, odours, and dirt (organic matter).
If you are not ready or able to replace your trusty top-loader, rest assured there are things you can do to improve your laundering score card. One of the easiest is to use cold water when possible. Nearly 90 per cent of the energy used for washing clothes goes to heating the water. Considering that the average household does around 400 loads of laundry each year, consuming about 13,500 gallons of water, switching to cold water can save more than a bit of loose pocket change. The Switch To Cold website estimates potential savings of between $50 to $100 a year, depending on one’s current washing ways, by switching to a cold wash and rinse cycle.
As anyone with sensitive skin knows, conventional laundry soaps can contain a lot of irritating ingredients: phosphates that can negatively affect ecosystems, and synthetic dyes and fragrances that can aggravate fickle constitutions.
Fortunately, finding friendlier detergents has become considerably easier in recent years. Phosphate and bleach free, these products are made from readily biodegradable, plant- and vegetable-based ingredients (instead of petroleum).
While there is nothing like wrapping up in a soft, fluffy towel after a hot shower, the chemicals and toxins that can be found in many conventional dryer sheets could take the magic out of the moment. While softener sheets made from 100% plant-based soaps are available, why not ditch the disposables altogether and make your own by misting a moist washcloth with a dab of liquid fabric softener and tossing it into the dryer?
Many people also report that replacing fabric softener with one half to one cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle will naturally balance the pH of soap, and leave clothes soft and free of chemical residue.
Laying It On the Line
For some, hanging clothes on the line offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane; for others it merely translates to scratchy towels and stiff jeans. While skipping on the dryer can make a big difference in your energy use, line drying need not be an all or nothing exercise.
Frequently cleaning the lint filter on your dryer will help increase efficiency and shorten drying time, and machines with moisture sensors can reduce the wear and tear on clothes and save considerable energy. If you are able and interested in toeing the line, outside or inside, websites like linedryit.com offer some good resources for getting started.