Make Your Laundry Room Healthier for You and the Environment
Do you want to live more eco-friendly? A great place to start in your home is by having an eco laundry room.
If your family is like the average American family, you wash approximately 300 loads of laundry per year! That's a lot of water, energy and chemicals being used.
While the laundry room might be one of the smaller rooms in your home, it is likely to be one of the most toxic. It doesn't have to be that way though.
Creating a healthy, eco laundry room is possible by making some simple changes.
When considering the different rooms in your home, the laundry room is one of the easiest rooms to make changes to in order to have a more healthy home.
Here are 10 different recommendations (in no particular order) to make your laundry room a healthier, eco-friendly environment.
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You might like the scent of your laundry detergent, or you might think it gets your clothes the whitest, but have you ever stopped to figure out what ingredients are in your detergent. Unfortunately, your laundry detergent may be harboring dangerous chemicals.
You may never know what actual ingredients are in your laundry detergent because manufacturers of cleaning products aren’t obligated by law to list all of their ingredients on their product package.
It's best to look for a natural laundry detergent or make your own laundry products. You only need a few ingredients to make your own DIY laundry detergent.
If you prefer to buy a safe laundry detergent, visit the Environmental Working Group to see how your detergent ranks when it comes to toxicity.
Here are some safe laundry detergents:
Instead of using commercial laundry products which may have toxic ingredients, or bleach which can cause breathing difficulties, you can whiten your clothes naturally.
Try a natural alternative, such as lemon juice.
Soak you clothes overnight in hot water and lemon juice. Wash your clothes as normal the next day.
If you don't want to soak your clothes overnight, you could add 1/2 cup of lemon juice, or purchase a non-toxic whitener to your washing machine's rinse cycle.
Fabric softener was developed to do as it implies - soften fabric, but unfortunately, today it does more (and not in a good way).
Fabric softener is made up of many harmful chemicals. The chemicals can clog your pores, give you asthma and respiratory problems and create central nervous system problems.
Toxic Fabric softeners leave a chemical coating of artificial perfumes on laundered clothes. They also release more chemicals when they are heated.
They can damage clothes by reducing towel absorbency and wearing down the "wicking" aspect of sportswear.
In addition to the physical problems that fabric softener can contribute to, it can also be "harmful to the environment and has the potential to contaminate the air we breathe."
You don't need to add toxic fabric softener to your load of laundry. Adding vinegar to your wash will naturally replace your fabric softener.
Dryer sheets may prevent static cling, but they are harming you and the environment in the process.
Researchers have found that dryer vents can emit more than 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when scented laundry detergent and dryer sheets are used.
"Dryer sheets are generally made of a polyester sheet that’s been covered in a fabric softener chemical." In addition to those chemicals, many synthetic fragrances are added.
When it comes to the environment, dryer sheets are single-use – which means many are thrown out. Additionally, "chemicals from dryer sheets can build up and clog your dryer’s lint screen, making your dryer a lot less efficient."
It's best to ditch toxic dryer sheets and use natural alternatives instead such as wool dryer balls, or vinegar.
Here are some items which can be used in place of dryer sheets:
When shopping for a new washer and dryer, be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR logo.
Years ago, washing machines used over 40 gallons of water to wash an average load. Today, washers typically use half of that amount or even less. So if you're in the market to purchase a new washing machine, you will be saving on the amount of water used.
According to Consumers Reports, most front loading washing machines scored excellent in water efficiency. They use roughly 13 gallons of water to wash an 8 pound load.
In addition, newer washers also have a larger tub capacity which allows you to wash fewer loads.
Instead of running multiple loads of laundry in hot water, try running them in cold water.
Using cold water in your wash will help reduce energy costs since a large percentage (about 75% - 90%) of energy is used to heat up water.
In addition, using cold water helps to lengthen the life of your clothes as it can reduce shrinkage and prevent fading.
Be sure to run a full load of laundry each time you use your washing machine. This can help you reduce the number of loads you wash which will ultimately help you save water, energy and money.
The most natural way to dry your clothes to is hang them up outside on a clothesline, or indoors on a drying rack. This will save energy and save you money on electrical costs.
Line drying also takes away the need for dryer sheets. When you dry your clothes outside, the outdoor air and sunlight will make your clothes smell fresh.
Line drying is also good for your clothes as it extends their life due to less wear and tear tumbling around in a dryer. However, don't hang dark clothes on the clothesline in the sun for too long as the sun can make your clothes fad.
TIP: You can save more energy in the winter by drying your clothes inside on a drying rack. Doing so will add some moisture to the air and act as a humidifier.
Here are some examples of drying racks:
Instead of wasting energy on ironing, you can hang up your clothes immediately after they are done in the wash cycle in order to keep them from wrinkling.
While your wet clothes are hanging, gravity will take hold and pull most of the wrinkles out. Once your clothes are dried, you can fold them where you want the creases to be.
If you dry your clothes in a dryer, try drying them for a less amount of time, then immediately hang them up. This will not only help keep wrinkles at bay, but it will also reduce the amount of static in your clothes.
Do you have cabinets or tables in your laundry room, or are you considering adding other furniture in the room?
Furniture may contain carcinogenic flame retardants, formaldehyde, toxic adhesives and be painted with high VOC paint.
Flame retardant chemicals don’t just stay in the furniture. The chemicals can collect in indoor dust and enter your body when you inhale it.
Furniture can also be treated with formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen. Formaldehyde can be found in plywood, pressed wood, particle board and medium density fiberboard. It can off-gas for many years.
When shopping for furniture, be sure to look for pieces made of “green” building material so you can avoid exposure to flame retardants and other harmful chemicals.
If you want to give your laundry room a new look, you can try painting it a new color. When choosing a paint, be sure to choose Low or Zero-VOC paint.
Avoid hanging wallpaper in a laundry room due to the chemicals, adhesives and mold possibility.
Once you make changes to your laundry products, the air quality should be better in your laundry room. However, if you want to use extra caution, you can use paint which ultimately helps improve air quality by absorbing and neutralizing the amount of chemicals and pollutants in a room.
By taking these eco-friendly laundry tips to heart, you will go a long way to having a more healthy home.
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