Top five ways to do laundry efficiently

Our modern appliances use a lot of energy, and washing machines and dryers are among the biggest culprits. But there are also plenty of ways to minimize that energy drain by using more efficient appliances, running them less often and making other lifestyle tweaks.

Install energy-efficient appliances

Getting an Energy Star washing machine can save not only energy, but water—up to 3,000 gallons a year, according to the organization. The machine design employs sensors and spray action to avoid filling the tub with water every time, regardless of load size.

Similarly, an Energy Star dryer uses sensors to shut off automatically when clothes are dry. If you use a clothes dryer, make sure you clean the lint filter after every load, and separate the heavy items, such as towels or blankets, from lighter ones to enhance the drying efficiency. You can also choose to run any dryer on a low-heat setting.

Do laundry less frequently

If you don't have an energy-efficient washer, plan your laundry days so that you can throw in enough clothes to fill the machine each time. This will prevent water waste. Plus, many clothes, such as blue jeans or sweaters, don't need to be washed as often as you may think—try switching to after every third wear.

Use the cold-water settings

Heating water for the laundry cycle just adds another layer of environmental impact to the process. Wash everything in cold water. Your clothes will get just as clean, and you will reduce energy consumption by about 90 percent.

Rethink your detergent

The phosphates present in many conventional detergents can end up in our waterways, where they affect marine ecosystems. Look for green detergents with labels that say "biodegradable" or "phosphate-free." You can also make your own detergent or fabric softener.

Line-dry your clothes

You probably already do this for some of your delicate clothes—why not for all of them? You can use drying racks indoors, or if you have yard space, string up a clothesline and let them dry in the fresh air. If you skip the dryer step altogether, you could be saving the yearly equivalent energy consumption of a refrigerator, clothes washer and dishwasher combined.


Find out your overall usage with a home energy audit