Go Green With Your Laundry - Tips to Save Money and the Planet
- Definition of eco laundry
- Help your pocket and the environment
- Eco-friendly laundry tips
With sustainability more on people’s minds nowadays, it’s important to see what else we can do to go greener, especially when it comes to eco laundry. The way we wash our clothes has an effect on the planet and there are ways in which we can reduce this impact in an eco-friendly way. There are also means of doing this without shelling out.
We can achieve this in a number of ways, from limiting the chemicals we use to ensuring we have efficient machines. Together, this limits the water and energy use and even prolongs the life of your clothes. So what does eco laundry mean and how can you make sure you’re doing all you can for the planet?
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What Does Eco-Friendly Laundry Mean?
Eco laundry is an all-encompassing term that includes not using animal ingredients or testing on animals and not using any dyes or harsh chemicals. It also covers ending unsustainable manufacturing or processes harsh to the planet.
This definition applies mainly to detergent, but can also be used against the process of handwashing, which is the most sustainable way to clean clothes. We’re not going to tell you to hand wash everything though as there are plenty of alternatives that will work better without going against our green eco laundry mantra.
Choosing the Right Product
Our first eco laundry tip is all about choosing the product that’s right for you. These vary by cost, both in terms of initial purchase and per wash, and come with their own strengths.
While capsules, or pods, have been around for a while, it doesn’t take long before one company tries to stand out above the competition in terms of sustainability. That’s where smol comes in. They’ve created an eco laundry capsule that:
Isn’t tested on animals
Is more concentrated, reducing the number of chemicals per wash
Has fully recyclable packaging
Is cost-effective (27p per wash)
This form of eco laundry replaces your detergent and comes in (like their name suggests) sheets. They go in with your wash and dissolve in water. As they come delivered flat, the packaging doesn’t take up much room either. While the fragrance may not be as strong as conventional detergent, the natural ingredients make you feel better about giving up synthetic chemicals. You can get up to 32 washes for around £12.99 or around 25p per wash with a subscription service, which won’t cost the Earth.
Laundry sheets come with a number of benefits, including:
Fully recyclable packaging
Science can do so much now, and eco laundry is no longer an unexplored frontier. The ecoegg Laundry Egg is an innovative way to go greener. It works by using two different kinds of pellet which draw out dirt from clothing fibres as they break down against each other. You can reuse the egg for 70 washes before the pellets need to be replaced. While the first batch will cost you £9.99, refills will only cost half this, equating to about 10p per wash.
The benefits for eco laundry include:
Suitable for sensitive skin
Reusable plastic case
Of course, you can always hand wash your clothes for the conventional sense of eco laundry, which will keep costs down. While you can hand wash most things, some items, like jeans, towels and bedding would probably be better off on a regular wash.
If you’re feeling like going the extra mile, you could make your own eco laundry detergent. The best thing about this method is that you know exactly what’s gone into it. You can also make sure that there are no microplastics and will save yourself some money in the long run too.
If you’re money-conscious, make sure you’re not missing out on the uniform tax rebate if you have to wash your uniform at home.
Choosing the Right Machine
Energy Efficiency and Energy Labels
All appliances feature an energy label, which tells you at a glance how energy efficient the machine is. The higher the rating, the more efficient the product, which helps us get closer to our eco laundry goal. Since March 2021, washing machines and washer dryers have featured the new energy label, which gives a rating from A-G, although previous models will have the older label, which goes from A+++ to D.
Since the introduction of the new label, appliances were reclassified in an attempt to spur manufacturers into creating more energy efficient products. As such, appliances rated the highest at A+++ on the old scale were moved to B or C on the new label to enable room for improvement for eco laundry purposes.
Besides this rating, washing machines have different statistics that include water consumption and noise emissions. Washer dryers even have two ratings: one for washing and one for drying.
When it comes to choosing a new washing machine, you need to pick one that accurately reflects your real-life usage, especially if you want to achieve eco laundry status. The new statistics give you an overall picture of what you can expect during use, while the A-G rating is an overview of how energy efficient the appliance is.
Washing machines have an expected lifetime of 11 years. This is because they lose efficiency over time (from issues such as limescale build-up) and how improvements in technology can be made in the course of that time. If you choose an A rated washing machine over a D rated one, you’ll save around £130 over the course of its lifetime and 105kg CO₂e.
Eco-friendly washing can be achieved more quickly with the right machine. Higher rated washing machines use less energy and less water, so it’s important to make sure your eco laundry routine is at peak efficiency.
Tumble dryers are still currently on the old A+++ to D rating. It’s important to understand that in terms of eco laundry, an A rated appliance on this scale is not energy efficient as it’s three ratings lower than an appliance rated A+++. The highest rated tumble dryer compared to an A rated tumble dryer will save you around £640 over the course of its 13 year life expectancy and 520kg CO₂e.
These heated appliances do waste a lot of energy (heat is wasted energy after all) and aren’t eco-friendly. It’s much kinder to both your pocket and the planet if you dry your clothes naturally. You’ll also remove the damage done to clothes through this process. With this in mind, ditching your tumble dryer is the best thing you can do with regard to eco laundry.
If you dry your clothes on the line (weather permitting), you’ll save a lot of energy. If you dry your clothes indoors, be mindful of the extra moisture created as this can cause damp. Always make sure windows are open (or trickle vents are used) if you’re drying clothes indoors.
Our last eco laundry tip concerns water pollution. You may think that microplastics aren’t a cause for concern as you’re not putting plastic bottles into your washing machine, but clothes can shed a lot of microplastics, especially if they’re synthetic. Microplastics are found everywhere, measuring less than five millimetres in length, and can be released from clothing during the washing process.
Microplastics are carried off through our wastewater system into the environment, which pollutes water sources and damages marine life. It even pollutes our drinking water. Not only is wildlife consuming these fibres - we are too! If you really want to get on top of your eco laundry game, reducing the amount of microplastics is one of the best steps you can take.
While there is a Bill in government that requires appliance manufacturers to fit microplastic catching filters into new devices, it won’t be passed into an Act anytime soon, which means manufacturers won’t be legally obligated to do this for a long time. In effect, eco laundry is in our hands. We can’t wait for the problem to be resolved by anyone else.
You can prevent unnecessary microplastics from entering the environment by using different products, such as installable filters, which capture these fibres as the water leaves the washing machine. They are available online and are a great way of increasing your green credentials.
Eco Laundry Washing - Energy and Water Saving Tips
Wash clothes less frequently, which will prolong the life of the garments
Wash on a full load, which will reduce the amount of water and energy you use through using multiple washes
Do washes overnight to save on energy bills
Avoid using your tumble dryer. Dry clothes naturally where you can
You can avoid creases in clothes by hanging wet items (the gravity will do the work and “iron” for you)
Wash at colder temperatures, which will reduce your electricity consumption
Avoid using dry cleaners as much (they use harsh chemicals)
- Use less fabric softener (can trap in smells and reduce absorption properties of towels)