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How green is your laundry? You've got the five star energy rating washer and dryer--that makes your laundry green, right? According to Siobhan O'Brien, author of Eco-Style, there are many other simple steps you can take to lessen the impact your laundry has on the environment.


* Wait until you have a full wash load of soiled linen before you wash. Whether you wash one t-shirt or a full load, the washing machine will still generate approximately the same amount of greenhouse gas.

* Buy a washing machine that features a cold water option. When you wash your clothes in cold water, you will generally save up to 90 per cent of the energy of a hot water wash. Or, to put it another way, a cold water wash generates less than 200 g (about 7 oz) of greenhouse gas per wash. A hot water wash generates up to 3 kilograms (6 lb) of greenhouse gas.

* To determine which washing machine has the ideal capacity for you, think about the size of your household, and how often you need to do the washing each week. A model that is too big will waste water and energy; a model that is too small will also waste energy from overuse. If you need a big machine, ensure that it allows you to adjust the water level so it matches the size of the load.

* If you have an 'economy' or 'eco' cycle on any of your whitegoods, use it.

* Not all washing machines have a great spin performance. Make sure your model does, especially if you use a clothes dryer.

* If your machine has a 'suds saver' function, use' it. This is an important feature if you use tank water, or water is in short supply. The 'sudssaver' mode reduces water and energy consumption by storing soapy water from the first rinse to be re-used in the second rinse. The pre-soak option is more common on some appliances, and is another way to reduce water consumption. Certain machines automatically sense load size, dirtiness of water, and fabric type, and adjust water level and wash cycle automatically.

* Make sure you have your washing machine serviced from time to time; clean the filter regularly. A faulty machine can waste considerable amounts of energy and water.


* Don't use a clothes dryer that is too big for your needs.

* Hit two birds with one stone: dry your clothes in front of the fireplace or heater while you are heating your home. This is an extremely energy-efficient option in winter. But be wary of the potentially hazardous mix of naked flames, heat and flammable synthetic fabric.

* Don't put clothes that are soaking wet into the clothes dryer. Spin dry them in the washing machine or wring them out as much as you can first. By removing excess water from your clothes, you will save excess energy, and up to 2 kg (4 lb) of greenhouse gas per cycle.

* Don't 'overdry' your clothes--this will waste energy, and is not the best option for the longevity of your clothes.

* Make sure the lint filter is cleaned regularly. A faulty or clogged filter will consume energy.

* There are two types of clothes dryers: those with timers and those with auto-sensors. Dryers with auto-sensors stop functioning once the load is dry. This will save time, money and energy.

* A cool down (or permanent press) cycle at the end of the drying operation will use residual heat in the dryer to complete the drying process. A great idea if you hate ironing--clothes that are dried with cool air wrinkle less,


* Use the right amount of detergent. Detergent pollutes our waterways and has a significant impact on our environment. Almost 1.5 kg (31/2 lb) of greenhouse gas is generated in the manufacture of 100 g of detergent, which is the amount that most top loaders use per wash.

* When you shop for laundry products, look for as many of the following options as possible: biodegradable products; products with recycled packaging; products that are made to work in cold water; or concentrated products, which means you will only need to use a tiny amount per wash.

* Read the label on laundry products carefully. Don't be fooled by companies that claim to be green when their products are filled with substances that should be avoided. Watch out for chlorine, phosphates/phosphorous chemicals, whiteners and synthetic fragrances.

* Make your own environmentally friendly laundry detergent from products that are easy to source. Half fill a bucket with hot water. Add 1/2 cup soap flakes and 1/3 cup washing soda and dissolve. Fill the rest of the bucket with cold water, and stir. The mixture will form a soft gel. Use 3 cups for a top loader, and 2 for a front loader.

Extract reproduced with permission. Eco-Style by Siobhan O'Brien is published by New Holland Publishers and retails for $45.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Australian Conservation Foundation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Habitat Australia
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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