Clothes drying outside on clothesline

We don’t always give them much thought, but our washers and dryers can account for a significant part of our home’s energy and water use. The average family does as many as eight loads of laundry every week, requiring a good deal of energy and thousands of gallons of water. If you’re trying to shrink your ecological footprint, consider some of these simple ways to minimize the impact of your laundry.

1. Use an energy efficient washing machine

A high efficiency washer may use less than half the amount of water of a conventional top loader. While a top loader can use as much as 54 gallons of water, the most efficient machines use only seven. Multiply that savings by the hundreds of loads you do each year, and you’re saving thousands of gallons of water.

High efficiency washers also use less electricity, and because they use less water, they’ll also require less energy to heat that water if you do warm or hot loads. In addition, they leave clothes dryer, so you’ll cut drying time and thus energy use. They’re also gentler on clothes so your clothes will last longer, yet another way high efficiency washers save energy. Of course, all these savings of water and energy means you’ll be saving money as well. Replacing an older washer with a high efficiency one will likely pay for itself over the machine’s lifetime.

When camping or traveling, you can even skip the washer altogether with a clever Scrubba bag that lets you wash small loads of laundry by hand in just a few minutes. Lightweight and portable, this bag is perfect for traveling and camping. Scrubba donates some its profits to clean water projects around the world.

2. Wash less often

laundry in a basket

Some folks have been trained to think that if they wear something once, it needs to hit the hamper. Not so. If it looks and smells clean, go a little longer between washes and you’ll save water, energy (your own and the electrical sort), and time. Run only full loads and save still more energy and water. The larger capacity of high efficiency washers also lets you wash fewer loads overall.

3. Use cold water

Cut the energy used to clean your clothes by choosing cold water settings as often as possible. Up to 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes goes to heating water! If every load laundered in the US used cold water instead of hot, the country…