Green Tip #4 Eco-Friendly Laundry Practices
Green Laundry Practices
I'd like to think most of us are already practicing energy conservation by washing your clothes in cold water (isn't that the way Mom taught us, anyway?!), with the exception of perhaps your whites.
If you haven't already switched to an eco-friendly laundry detergent, such as Seventh Generation or those offered by J.R. Watkins, you may want to seriously consider switching. Eco-friendly detergents contain little to no phosphates. Phosphate deposits can contain significant amounts of naturally ocurring heavy metals (no, I'm not talking about head-banger music!). Unless carefully managed, these waste products can leach heavy metals into the groundwater or nearby estuaries. Uptake by plants and marine life of the substances they leave behind can lead to concentration of heavy metal deposits in food products and also contributes to pollution! We can't have that, now can we??? Additionally, and I don't know if you're aware of this, many commercial detergents are made from petroleum products! Do you really want to be putting that into your clothes? Ok, I'm blithering.....so, I'll move to my next point.
Instead of adding fabric softener to the rinse cycle, or worse yet, softener sheets to the dryer, add 1 cup of white vinegar at the rinse cycle. Vinegar not only softens your clothes, but is a great stain fighter and fabric brightener. A gallon of white vinegar only costs about $3 and is much more environmentally friendly. Conversely, dryer sheets will gum up your lint traps. The slick film on the sheets, released into your clothes by heat, "sticks" to the lint screen when heated. This results in the lint being forced down the dryer vents, thus further creating a fire hazard. I ask you, is convenience worth the risk?
When washing your whites, rather than use bleach, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup baking soda at the beginning of the wash cycle. The soda will whiten your clothes and save them from becoming brittle and frayed, as happens with repeated use of bleach. You also won't see those unsightly yellow collar and armpit stains! Furthermore, bleach kills the enzymes needed to keep your septic system operating properly. If you're on septic, you really need to be selective in what you send down there!
One last tip: if you don't like to iron, take your clothes out of the dryer as soon as it buzzes. Snap the wrinkles out and, one at a time, lay each piece semi-folded on a nearby hard surface. Put the heavier items on the bottom, such as jeans, with the lighter items on top. Hang them up, or fold right away and put them away. I can't remember the last time I had to bring out the iron!
In conclusion, these tips will not only help save the environment, but will prolong the life of your clothing and prevent unnecessary repairs to your dryer. Not to mention giving you back a part of your life previously spent slaving over a hot iron!
Shauna L Bowling
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© 2011 Shauna L Bowling
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