Our laundry room is unfinished. Yes this annoys me greatly but it is what it is right now. I dream about what kind of laundry room I would want and what sustainable materials I would use. Hopefully in the near future the basement will get finished and I will be able to build it the way I want to!
In the meantime there are loads of things you can do to improve the environmental impact of your laundry room.
Selecting your machines
If your washer and dryer work well then it is worth it to keep it until it starts to get old and not work effectively. When it comes time to replace them look at the energy efficiency. You would be amazed at how little energy the new HE Energy Star one's use. Look for features like being able to do shorter cycles, less of a spin cycle, varying water/heat temperatures etc. When we were selecting our dryer we went with gas because it was more energy efficient then the electric version.
There are lots of options for detergent on the market. You can even make your own or buy homemade from Etsy. We use Ecos detergent as we like the liquid better than the powder. Joe likes to use it on his white's. but I refuse to use it on my clothes or B's clothes because of the toxins that chlorine bleach contains and releases during its use. There are several environmentally friendly alternatives that you can use from brands like Seventh Generation or Ecos or you can make your own by using products like vinegar, borax, washing soda or lemon juice.
If you like to use a fabric softener you can purchase an environmentally friendly version from Seventh Generation or use vinegar! We don't have to use fabric softener because the detergent we use has it built in. In the dryer you can use wool dryer balls to help combat static. They are easy to make yourself or you can purchase them on Etsy. Yes you can buy PVC dryer balls easily in a store but come on...they are PVC!
If you have stains you can use a stain remover like Gloves Off but I find the best way to get rid of them is to rinse and soak them right away if at all possible.
Doing your laundry
I use cold/cold water for all loads except towels and linens. For those I use hot/cold. Using cold water is going to save you on the energy (and associated emissions) from having to heat the water. And seriously contrary to what some detergent companies say I have never seen it affect the performance of my detergent.
I don't use the dryer for very many things. Again mostly towels and linens. Everything else I dry on my indoor clothes line. I sometimes throw things into the dryer for 10 minutes to soften it up a bit if required.
Do your laundry in off peak hours. It is going to save you money if your utility company has a scaled rate.
To ensure your machines operate at their top efficiency it is important that you maintain them. It takes simple things like removing lint from the lint drawer between each load. I know I have been guilty of forgetting to clean it out and then freaking out when my sheets aren't dry at 11PM when I want to go to bed. I save our lint and use it as fire starter when we go camping. You can also use it to make fake mice to freak people out or if you are boring you can compost it.
Lint is a fire hazard so it is also important for safety reasons that you clean out your vents and ducts. It is also going to improve the efficiency of your dryer, so win-win-win.
What have you done to green up your laundry room?
Related Posts - Check them Out
Switching to Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent
Nellies Laundry Soap
Greening your Bathroom