Five laundry tips for summer
Whether or not you have the latest model high efficiency washing machine, there are a lot of simple things you can do to save time and money by changing a couple of things in your laundry.
- Make the most of the sunshine and dry your clothes and bed linen outside in the fresh air The dryer is one of the most energy consuming appliances in kiwi homes (alongside the fridge) and they are poor users of energy, with many receiving only 1 - 2 stars on the Australia - New Zealand energy rating scheme. Sunshine can actually help kill bacteria and dust mites, and even helps fade stains (and save a few dollars along the way). Hanging dark coloured clothes in the shade or out of direct sunlight will help prevent colour fade but it's a good idea to give them the benefit of fresh air whenever possible. Shake out damp items before hanging them on the line to help reduce wrinkling and help your clothes dry completely.
- Wear clothes more than once Most of the energy required for our clothes comes from washing, drying, and ironing rather than from manufacture or distribution, so a big part of greening up our laundry and saving dollars comes down to how we care for our clothes. If your clothes pick up a stain but aren't dirty overall, do some spot cleaning on them instead of putting them in the washing machine.
- Don't overfill your washing machine Top loading washing machines use 140 - 200 litres of water per wash which is more than enough to fill an average bathtub. Front loaders use much less water, around 60 litres per wash, and are far more water efficient, but no matter which washing machine you use, always wash full loads - two half-full loads is twice the water and energy. Don't be tempted to overfill your machine as this actually wears your machine out and doesn't allow your clothes to clean as well.
- Pre-dissolve laundry powder for cold water or hard water Dissolving laundry powder before adding it to the machine is good practice for all wash temperatures and can improve cold water washing (a screw top jar next to the washing machine is very handy for doing this).
- Find out what's in the laundry products you're using Laundry products can be loaded with unnecessary chemicals like optical brighteners and synthetic perfumes and dyes that can be harsh on your skin and on our environment. Residues of these chemicals that are left in clothes and linen can lead to skin irritations, rashes and eczema. If the ingredients list looks a bit skimpy, call the company and ask. We need tighter legislation to protect us from toxic chemicals. In the meantime we need to rethink our basic assumptions about the safety of everyday products and take care.
If you have any other laundry tips you'd like to add we'd love to hear them!