Go Clean and Green in the Laundry with Southern Maryland Appliances
Apart from an electrical furnace, a clothes dryer is one of the biggest electrical draws in the home, using an average of 4,500 watts of electricity. Washing machine energy use differs depending upon whether it's a front-loading or top-loading unit, but everywhere from St. Mary’s county to Annapolis this southern Maryland appliance still uses a considerable amount of energy.
According to estimates, an average person does one load of laundry per week, weighing in at roughly 15 pounds. Considering the average family contains four to five people, that's around five loads of laundry a week, depending upon the season of the year and how many sets of clothes are worn per day (active families may change more frequently). Therefore, it's easy to see how doing laundry can impact the environment -- and how making some simple green changes can do much to help the planet, especially when multiplied by all of the households out there.
The way you run your appliances can make a difference:
Switch to cold water loads: It is estimated that 95 percent of the energy used by washing machines goes toward heating the water if you choose "hot" wash cycles. Washing your clothes in hot water instead of cold water for a year uses more electricity than leaving the refrigerator door open 24 hours a day for a year. There is no evidence that hot water cleans any better than cold water, especially when there are many detergents available today designed specifically for coldwater use. So skip hot water, which can shrink or discolor clothes anyway. Be green and save some green, too.
What you put in your appliances can make a difference:
Avoid harsh chemicals: Laundry detergents are full of ingredients designed to scour clothing. While many break down readily in the environment, they may have lasting effects on aquatic life. Some ingredients in laundry detergents, such as colorants, may actually cause cancer or other ill effects in humans. Today there are a number of laundry detergents that are comprised of safer ingredients for people and the environment. For very lightly soiled clothing, or items that just need refreshing, you may be able to go without detergent for the load. Think about the effect this would have if the entire Southern Maryland community joined in on efforts like these.
Toss out dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners: These products, meant to soften clothes, are typically full of chemicals that are not great for the environment or people. For example, ingredients include alpha-terpineol, benzyl acetate, camphor, benzyl alcohol, limonene, ethyl acetate, pentane, and chloroform. Some of these components have been known to impair respiratory function, cause headaches, cause skin disorders, and contribute to cancer. A better idea is to use baking soda or vinegar in the wash to naturally soften clothes (just don't use vinegar at the same timeas bleach because mixing may cause toxic fumes). Some synthetics are naturally soft, negating the need for softeners anyway. Other ideas include:
• rumor has it tossing a ball of aluminum foil into the dryer with clothes cuts down on static cling
• don't dry clothes all the way; leave them a little damp to reduce static
• don't mix synthetics with cotton clothes to reduce static
Do larger loads: It is economical and better to wash a large load of laundry than to do several small loads where the machine is underfilled. However, when drying clothes, the reverse may be true. Attempting to dry too many clothes at the same time may result in more energy use from re-running the dryer over and over.
Let’s spread the word throughout Southern Maryland to help our area go green, save money and use our appliances more efficiently.