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Clean Clothes, Happier Planet

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Drying
Meanwhile, dryers are generally the most energy-intensive appliance in the house, so it pays to use them efficiently. Hang drying your clothes instead of using the dryer can save 700 pounds of C02 a year, but line-drying is not only impractical for some, in some communities it is not even legal. (Hello?!) If you can’t line dry, try to follow these tips.

  • If your dryer has a setting for auto-dry, be sure to use it instead of the timer, to avoid wasting energy (and overdrying, which can cause shrinkage, generate static electricity, and shorten the life of your clothes).
  • Faster spin speeds can result in better water extraction and thus reduce the energy required for drying. Mechanical water extraction by spinning is much more efficient than thermal extraction (heating clothes in a dryer).
  • When drying, separate your clothes and dry similar types of clothes together. Lightweight synthetics, for example, dry much more quickly than bath towels and natural fiber clothes.
  • Don’t over-dry clothes. Take clothes out while they are still slightly damp to reduce the need for ironing–another big energy user.
  • If your dryer has a setting for auto-dry, use it.
  • Don’t add wet items to a load that is already partially dried.
  • Dry two or more loads in succession, taking advantage of the heat still in the dryer from the first load.
  • Clean the dryer filter after each use. A clogged filter will restrict flow and reduce dryer performance.
  • Dry full loads when possible, but be careful not to overfill the dryer. Drying small loads wastes energy. Air should be able to circulate freely around the drying clothes.
  • Check the outside dryer exhaust vent. Make sure it is clean and that the flapper on the outside hood opens and closes freely.

Next: What to look for in laundry products

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Read more: Allergies, Conservation, Home, Non-Toxic Cleaning, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

155 comments

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12:41PM PDT on Oct 24, 2013

already doing a lot of this

11:37AM PDT on May 27, 2012

To remove sweat stains from the under-arms of shirts and blouses, wet garment stain before washing and rub in a bit of toothpaste.
Launder as usual - that is, on machine settings appropriate for the material.

May have to be repeated if the sweat stain is extensive, but usually that will take care of it. (And the toothpaste "smell" only lasts a few minutes.)

1:41AM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

Thanks for the tips!

1:13AM PDT on May 23, 2011

This post should be appreciated. Thanks for sharing this information. mosquito hat

5:30PM PST on Feb 2, 2011

this turning down the thermostat on your h/w heater is for the birds!! I want HOT water not lukewram water in my shower and when I wash my dishes by hand......save money? If your h/w heater is electric, like mine is, TURN IT OFF at the circuit breaker when not in use!! I turn mine on about 20-30 min. before I need water and save up to $50 on my elec. bill!!

8:20PM PST on Jan 31, 2011

Thanks.

12:04PM PDT on Jul 21, 2010

Great tips. Thank you!

6:47PM PDT on Jul 11, 2010

Thank you

10:42AM PDT on May 24, 2010

Some of the stain removal methods were new to me. Thanks!

7:55PM PDT on May 19, 2010

merci

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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