February 24, 2012

Cleaning Week - Day 3 - Laundry

Today's topic is laundry (day three of cleaning week).  Before that, the announcement of the winner of the lemon counting contest.  The amount of lemons was 162.  The winner is Beverly, with a guess of 142.  (Bre had a guess of 155 but that guess had an unfair advantage - an in-person apparaisal of the basket so the guess was removed from the contest.)  Beverly - your package will be in the mail next week. :)

Fire ze lemon missiles!


Laundry is a constant task / chore, especially since adding another member to the family.  Below are a few statistics about the environmental impact of laundry and suggested action steps.


  1. Cold vs. hot water usage - If North American consumers switched from using warm water to cold water for doing laundry 21 million barrels of oil would be saved annually.  That's a little more than the average daily petroleum consumption in the U.S.
  2. Detergents - As with dryer sheets, laundry detergent packages don't usually list their ingredients.  Potentially harmful chemicals in laundry detergents include chlorine, phenols, bleach, phosphates, and many more.
  3. Dryer energy usage -  The Nebraska Public Power District estimates that each run of a clothes dryer costs approximately 47 cents.  Using the sun and wind leaves clothes smelling good and saves electricity and/or natural gas and money.  During the winter a drying rack or line can be used inside the home.  (Full disclosure: I am still working to get off my dryer habit and I don't have much of an excuse living in San Diego but I'm working on it.)
  4. Dryer sheets - Contain a host of chemical compounds, including benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, limonene, chloroform pentane, and a number of others.  Check out the link for a summary of the effects of these chemicals.  Of course, if you look at your box of Bounce you won't find any of these ingredients listed since they're not required to be disclosed to consumers. 
Snuggles - how could you?!  (Although this does explain the creepy dreams about that bear when I was a kid.  I just thought it was the weird giggles, way too high-pitched for a strapping young bear.)

Suggested action steps:

  1. Use an environmentally friendly laundry detergent (or make your own detergent - link courtesy of Heather and includes some helpful photos of the process).  I added some options to my Amazon site at right.
  2. Wash laundry on cold setting, rather than warm
  3. Use environmentally friendly dryer sheets, or don't use dryer sheets at all.
  4. Utilize hanging lines or racks to dry clothes instead of a dryer
  5. If you're looking to purchase a new washer or dryer consider buying a high-efficiency model.  They use far less energy and water, and are usually more compact and can be stacked since they are front-loading instead of top-loading.  There are often also rebates available from utility companies and other sources for these purchases.
If trying all of the above steps aren't possible, consider trying out just one or two.  I'm still working on getting the line drying down and just recently switched out our dryer sheets.  


The longest journey starts with a single step.    - Lao-Tzu


Happy Friday from The Cure!


  1. For some reason our laundry from the clothesline can stink bad (air pollution??) so I still use the drying racks in summer for pillowcases and work clothes.

  2. You could be eligible to receive a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.