Tag Archives: Laundry

7 Laundry Hacks That Save Time, Money and the Planet

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Laundry is a drain on the modern green household. It sucks up energy, water, and time — three things very precious to any eco-warrior. Fortunately, technology has some excellent solutions to our laundry problems. Here are seven laundry hacks that help you make sure your washer and dryer are doing their part for the planet.

1. Upgrade to an Energy Star Model

If your current washer and dryer are more than 10 years old, upgrading them will save you significant time doing your weekly laundry and also reduce your utility bills. Energy Star–rated washers can reduce your water use by 45 percent and your energy use by 25 percent. An Energy Star–rated dryer will save you around $245 in energy costs over its lifetime. If upgrading isn’t an option yet, be conscientious about using your current washer’s settings correctly. If you have water level settings, make sure to set your washer to the lowest one. If not, always use the correct load size setting — small for small loads, medium for medium loads, and so on. You could save more than 1,200 gallons of water per year.

2. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water

Almost 90 percent of the energy a washer needs is used to heat water. If you wash your clothes in cold water, you’ll cut down your energy use significantly and save $66 or more a year on your energy bill, depending on the amount of laundry you do. New high-efficiency (HE) washers clean just as effectively with cold water. Make sure to use a specially designed HE laundry detergent.

3. Select the Fastest Spin Speed

Choose the fastest spin speed your washer (and your clothes) can handle. The faster the washer spins, the more water is whisked out of the load, and the less time it needs to spend in the dryer. Be sure to use this for towels, if nothing else.

4. Take Advantage of Sensor Features

Load and moisture sensors will intelligently adjust your washer and dryer cycles. Load sensing assesses each load you put in the washer and determines how much water is needed to clean it properly. Similarly, moisture sensors are more efficient than setting a timer on your dryer. These sensors can tell when your clothes are dry and stop the machine, reducing your dryer’s energy use by about 15 percent.

5. Opt for Models That Use Less Water

Traditional top-loading washing machines fill up the entire tub with water and rub clothes against the agitator in the middle of the tub. New top-loader models don’t have an agitator — they flip and spin clothes through a stream of water instead of filling the whole tub, which significantly reduces water usage. Front-loading washers tumble clothes to clean them instead of using an agitator. Either option is an eco-friendly choice that will reduce the amount of water you use to do laundry.

6. Turn Down the Dryer Heat

Longer drying cycles on a low heat setting use less energy. Be sure to clean the filter in between loads to keep the dryer in top working order.

7. Toss a Tennis Ball into the Dryer

This old-school trick really works. When you’re drying large, bulky items — such as down comforters, jackets, blankets or pillows — throw in a couple of new tennis balls with the load. The balls bounce around in the dryer to separate the waterlogged, heavy material, which reduces drying time and energy usage.

Follow these laundry hacks to take advantage of today’s washer and dryer features that save time, energy and water for a super-green laundry routine.

Jennifer Tuohy is an earth-conscious mom who writes for The Home Depot on a variety of green, tech, and parenting topics. She provides advice on easy, simple ways to be greener when doing your laundry. To see a selection of Energy Star-rated washers and dryer like the ones Jennifer mentions in this article, visit The Home Depot here

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7 Laundry Hacks That Save Time, Money and the Planet

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8 Ways to Detox Your Home

We are exposed to more synthetic chemicals in our food, air and water, than ever before. While many people avoid chemicals in their food, the sad fact remains that most people arent aware of the nasty toxins they may inadvertently invite into their homes. While there really are countless ways to give your home a detox, here are 8 of the best ways to eliminate excess toxins from your home:

1. Skip the So-called Air Fresheners: Dont be duped by commercials claiming that you may be suffering from “nose blindness,” declaring that you need to spray air fresheners to eliminate odors in your home. Does nose-blindness actually sound right to the advertisers, or anyone for that matter? Whether they come in ozone-depleting aerosol cans, plug-in, candle or spray bottle forms, the vast majority have been found to contain dangerous phthalates. These nasty chemicals are linked to abnormally-developed male genitalia, poor semen quality, low testosterone levels and other reproductive issues. And, if that isnt bad enough, they typically contain lighter fluid, acetone (the same ingredient that makes up nail polish remover), liquefied petroleum gas and a dizzying array of other toxic ingredients that increase the risk of breathing disorders.

2. Reduce the Amount of Plastic You Use: Just because you may have switched to BPA-Free (Bisphenol-A) plastic doesnt mean you are safe from the damage plastics can cause. Many manufacturers removed BPA from their plastics, replacing the toxic ingredient with equally damaging compounds known as EAs, which is short for estrogen activity. These synthetic chemicals pose a threat to human health, and to children in particular, increasing aggression, damaging the immune system, and wreaking havoc on hormones. Switch to stainless steel or glass water bottles, food storage containers, or other household items.

3. Stop Heating Food in Plastic Containers in a Microwave Oven: The heat increases the leaching of the toxic ingredients into the food stored in them. In research published in the journal Environmental Health, both BPA-free plastic and BPA-containing plastic were found to have estrogen activity, which means that they can throw off the delicate hormonal balance when they leech into our food or water.

4. Make the Laundry Switch: Most commercially-available laundry detergents and fabric softeners are loaded with harmful, and even cancer-causing, ingredients. While it may be tempting to assume that the amounts used were approved by the government as safe, the vast majority of ingredients used in laundry products were never tested for safety prior to their being allowed for use in consumer products. Heres a sampling of the chemicals in most laundry products: alpha-terpineol (linked to disorders of the brain and nervous system, loss of muscle control, depression and headaches), Benzyl acetate (linked to pancreatic cancer) and pentane (linked to headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness and depression).

Related: How to Make Your Own Fabric Softener and Laundry Soap

5. Stop Cooking with Teflon-coated Cookware: Teflon, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, has been linked to cancer, birth defects and heart disease. DuPont, the makers of this nasty carcinogen, declared in an interview with the Washington Post over a decade ago, that: processes will be developed to ensure that perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) would not be released into the environment from finished products or manufacturing plants. However, more and more research shows that were paying a high price for this non-stick cookwareits showing up in tissue samples from most humans along with the drinking water of over 6.5 million Americans. Some samples ranged between 5 and 175 times the level considered safe by new research. Simply choose Teflon-free cookware options, including many that seem to be much safer non-stick choices.

6. Start Filtering Your Drinking Water: Our tap water now contains a myriad of toxic ingredients, including: lead, chlorine, fluoride and even sometimes prescription medications and hormones. As you learned above, 6.5 million Americans now drink water with Teflon. Choose the best quality water filter you can afford. If thats a simple pitcher model, it is likely better than nothing at all (assuming you choose one that isnt loaded with all sorts of chemical ingredients).

7. Add a Water Filter to Your Showerhead: While youre picking up a water filter, be sure to add one to your shower head. There are many affordable options that simply attach to a standard showerhead. Most of our water now contains chlorine, which we breathe in and absorb through our skin in the shower; however, most showerhead filters remove chlorine.

8. Choose Sustainable and Healthier Flooring Options: Carpets contain a whole host of toxic ingredients including the carcinogen formaldehyde. Vinyl plank flooring and linoleum can off-gas chemicals for years after they are installed. Choose wood, tile, bamboo, cork or another type of healthy flooring option when you are renovating or building your home.

Related:
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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news Worlds Healthiest News, president of PureFood BC, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds: The 4-Week Plan for a Sharper Mind, Better Memory, and Healthier Brain.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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8 Ways to Detox Your Home

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10 Uses for Rainwater

Collecting your own rainwater is an excellent way to conserve this precious resource. A basic rainwater collection system catches rainwater from your roof or other surface and channels it into a container for storage.

Rainwater itself is generally clean, but it can pick up microorganisms, pollutants and debris when it hits your roof. This is why systems for rainwater use inside your home often include filtration or other treatments for safety.

Outdoor rainwater collection systems dont need as much treatment because the water is typically used outside. One of the easiest rain collectors to make is a repurposed old garbage can. Whereas, you can install a rainwater cistern if you want a larger system.

There are many different uses for collected rainwater no matter what type of rainwater harvesting system you have.

1. Drinking and cooking

Rainwater can actually be very high-quality water for human consumption. Its relatively pure and doesnt contain any chlorine or other chemicals, which are often used to sanitize city tap water. The problem starts when rainwater is collected from roofs or other dirty surfaces. You can make rainwater safe to drink by installing a filtration system, boiling or distilling the water. Some systems can also directly collect clean rainwater to use for drinking.

2. Bathing and laundry

Washing clothes accounts for about 22 percent of indoor water use in the United States. Showers take 17 percent, and baths 2 percent. If you used harvested rainwater for all of these, you could reduce your municipal water use by over 40 percent. Depending on how clean you want your washing water, you could use either treated or untreated rainwater. SFGate has some suggestions on how you can treat rainwater to use for showering.

3. Flushing toilets

This is another huge water drain. Toilets use almost 27 percent of water in your home. To use collected rainwater instead, try keeping a bucket of it next to your toilet. When you need to flush, pour the rainwater straight into the bowl of the toilet. This will automatically flush your toilet. Make sure your bucket can hold the amount of your toilets tank. For instance, if you have a toilet with a 6 gallon (22.7 liter) tank, use at least a 6 gallon bucket of water

Another option is to plumb a pipe for rainwater directly into your house and connect it to your toilet for flushing. Check out a very low-tech method to do this.

4. Watering lawns, gardens and houseplants

Rainwater is naturally designed to water plants, and it can easily be used for your indoor and outdoor gardens. You can use rainwater in watering cans to water plants by hand. You can also attach any rainwater storage tanks directly to an automatic irrigation system.

Passive systems to conserve and collect water in your soil are also helpful. Plant garden beds along the edges of your driveway, or at the bottom of a hill, to take advantage of waters natural movement. Also, try planting a raingarden at the ends of your eavestroughs to catch any excess runoff.

5. Composting

Water is essential for proper decomposition of your compost pile. Make sure you water your compost with the rest of your garden. Harvested rainwater is also good for compost tea. Home Composting Made Easy describes a simple way to make compost tea.

6. Water for wildlife, pets or livestock

You can use recycled rainwater for birdbaths, troughs, or other containers for wildlife to visit. Rainwater is also typically safe for pets or livestock to drink or wash in, especially if you have a method to collect clean rainwater directly.

7. Outdoor ponds and water features

Rainwater can be filtered for use in fountains or other water features with pumps that could get clogged. Otherwise, you can fill outdoor ponds and pools with any type of collected rainwater.

8. Rinsing vegetables

Dirty rainwater is great for rinsing vegetables straight from your garden, especially root vegetables. Try filling a large bucket with rainwater, adding some carrots, potatoes, beets or other hard vegetables, and swish them together to knock the soil off.

9. Washing vehicles and equipment

Washing outdoor items is another excellent use for untreated rainwater. Cars, garden tools, lawnmowers, tractors and even the driveway and sides of your house are all perfect candidates.

10. Fire protection

A rainwater catchment system with a large storage tank could give you some extra protection if you live in an area prone to wildfires. Make sure you also install a good pump so you can access the water quickly if needed.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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DIY Laundry Hacks to Save Money & the Planet

Don’t you wish you were as happy about your laundry as this baby is?

Irecently talked with Eco Karen (aka Dr. Karen Lee) about getting greener and less toxic in the laundry room. Listen to this fun Green Divas @ Home podcast then read on for more DIY laundry hacks. . .

Most commercial brands of laundry detergent contain a myriad of known and potentially harmful toxic ingredients. Even the so-called cleaner ones aren’t always so clean. Here’s a helpful chart of laundry chemicals to avoid. One way to know exactly what is in your laundry detergent is to make your own!

1. Make your own Borax-free laundry detergent

While there are a lot of simple DIY laundry detergent recipes out there, many of them include Borax, which can be rough on sensitive skin, so Karen offers us a great Borax-free laundry detergent recipe that she tested herself.

1 TbspWashing Soda(you can make your own, did you know that?)
1 Tbsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Grated Castile Soap (see alternative option below)
1 C Distilled White Vinegar in the Fabric Softener Compartment
1 TbspCitrus Enzyme Cleaneror Citric Acid

Scoop the powder separately without mixing them, makingsure to use the right amount for each.

If you have extra stains, you canspot clean it with peroxide/water mixture or Oxyclean first, before throwing the garment in the washer with the rest of the laundry, like you would with other types of detergent.

As an alternative togratingcastile soap, you can substitute with 1 Tbsp ofliquidcastile soap.

2. Soap nuts?

Soap nutsare an effective, truly non-toxic, cheap and easy way to do laundry. I tried this when I was in California for a couple of weeks and was impressed with how well these things work. Why don’t we all use these things all the time? In fact, why am I not using them now?

Here’s what you do: put 4 – 6 nuts in a natural muslin bag that ties shut. Remove them from the laundry after you are done and let them dry. These can be used several times before you have to ditch them for new ones. When the shells start to get soft and gray, toss them in the compost.

3. Dryer balls from lonely old socks

This is an excellent idea for making use of those solo socks to make your laundry fluffy and naturally scented. Go here to get ecoKaren’s detailed tutorial on making dryer balls from socks!

BONUS:

Listen to the latest Green Divas Radio Show . . .

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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DIY Laundry Hacks to Save Money & the Planet

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Fight for Your Right to Dry!

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Why You Should Wash Your Clothes Before You Wear Them

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What You Should (And Shouldn’t) Dry Clean

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What You Should (And Shouldn’t) Dry Clean

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How Concentrated Cleaning Products Can Save You Money

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How Concentrated Cleaning Products Can Save You Money

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Is Your Dryer Running Efficiently?

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Is Your Dryer Running Efficiently?

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4 DIY Non-Toxic Laundry Tips

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4 DIY Non-Toxic Laundry Tips

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