Want to do your laundry the eco-friendly way? It’s a simple, two-step process:
1) Wash most everything in cold water (The only thing I wash in hot water is towels.)
2) Hang your laundry out to dry.
• Save energy, lower your electric or gas bill, and reduce your carbon footprint (the amount of energy you burn that contributes to climate change).
• Longer-lasting clothes, since washing in hot water can fade colors and drying in hot air can shrink fabrics.
• No static cling, one of the hazards of hot air drying.
• Clean, fresh smell. No need for “natural fragrance” dryer sheets (which means more money savings).
What Kind of Clothes Line or Rack Should You Buy?
You can use a length of rope you already have, but make sure it’s thin enough to be able to clip a clothes pin to. Otherwise, you’ll have to throw things over the top of the line, which works unless a strong (i.e., fast-drying) breeze is about. You can find several clothes line options in the Big Green Purse store, or at your local hardware store. NOTE: Most lines stretch over time, so you may need to buy a line tightener to keep the line taut enough so that the clothes don’t end up dragging on the ground.
This foldable clothes line frame (pictured right) is terrific if you have a flat space you can mount it on. What I like about it is that it folds out of the way when not in use.
You can also try a rotary line dryer. Hang the laundry, then use a hand crank to easily raise the whole load another 16 inches or so to catch the breeze and dry quickly. For something simpler, install a retractable clothes line in your bathroom or laundry room. These lines can’t accommodate a lot of laundry at once, but they’re great for socks and underwear.
Dryer racks can’t be beat for convenience, and many of them are large enough to handle an entire load of laundry at one time. I use a light-weight wooden rack I put on my sunny back porch in the summer. My washer and dryer are in a big utility closet behind louvered doors in my master bathroom; in the winter, I just set up the rack in there. The humidity from the clothes helps humidify the dry winter air. Here are several types of dryer racks you can try.
Use the sturdiest clothespins you can find. Choose wood, not plastic, and store the pins inside and away from the elements when they’re not in use to keep them from getting dirty or wet if it rains.
If you hang your laundry in the sun…
Sunshine naturally beats back germs and odors, which is why I used to dry the kids’ cloth diapers in the sun. But the sun can also bleach or fade clothes. Turn shirts, blouses, and pants inside-out before you hang them to keep their color bright, and bring them inside as soon as they’re dry.
Line drying is terrific for sports wear, underwear, jeans, pants, towels, sheets, blouses, socks, and shirts. But towels? They can get a little stiff or crunchy when they line dry. Some people find that adding white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser helps soften their towels. I prefer to dry mine on the line almost completely, then toss them into the dryer to fluff up for ten minutes or so.
What about pet fur?
My throw rugs collect a LOT of fur from my dog and two cats. Tumble drying is still the most effective way to capture all that fur, even when I shake my rugs out before I was them. I tumble the rugs for about 15 minutes to capture the fur, then finish the drying on a rack or outside. See what works best for you.
For more information, get your own copy of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World. Sign up for our free newsletter tips at www.biggreenpurse.com.
Main page photo by Mike LaCon/Flickr)
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