Washing machines use a lot of energy. But you can make them more efficient by following these simple tips.
Sort laundry by color, soil level and fabric type to prevent colors from bleeding and fabrics from fading. Sorting also helps you choose the right washer cycle and water temperature for each load.
1. Choose the Right Detergent
Using the wrong laundry detergent can lead to excess suds that carry dirt, odors, and bacteria higher up inside the washing machine. Over time, residue buildup can affect subsequent wash cycles by fading colors and making clothes look dingy.
It’s also important to choose the right type of detergent for each load. Powder, liquid, and packs of laundry detergent are available in many varieties – some for standard machines, others for high-efficiency (HE) machines, and even some that are safe for delicate fabrics.
Once you’ve selected the laundry soap, start by sorting your clothing. Place heavy materials, like towels and cloth diapers, together and light or delicate fabric items in a separate pile. This will help prevent snags, abrasions and rips during the wash cycle.
2. Wash Delicates Separately
While it may seem like a hassle, properly sorting your laundry is vital to ensuring that all of your clothes stay looking their best. Separating your laundry helps prevent colors from bleeding onto other garments during the wash, and it can also help preserve the fabric integrity of delicate items.
Start by separating out dry-clean-only items and other specialty fabrics. Then create piles of “lights” and “darks.” “Lights” include white, pastel, and light-grey clothing, while darks are navy, brown, black, and dark grey.
Delicate fabrics such as silk, lace, and wool should be washed separately from everyday cotton and synthetic fabrics. Likewise, practical fabrics such as sportswear and outdoor clothing and those that are adorned with delicate beading should be washed on the delicate cycle.
3. Use the Right Water Temperature
The temperature of the water you use is important to ensuring your laundry gets clean and your clothing doesn’t shrink or fade. Using cold water is the best option for most loads, as it uses less energy and saves money.
Hot water is generally reserved for delicate fabrics or brightly colored items that may fade in colder temperatures. It is also useful for sanitizing clothes after someone has been sick.
Be sure to wash full loads to avoid wasting energy and water. In fact, washing a half load of laundry can use as much electricity as a full load. This is because the washer must still use the same amount of water and detergent regardless of how much is in it. In addition, be sure to follow clothing label instructions on how to care for your specific fabric types.
4. Don’t Overload the Machine
While it may seem like a good idea to cram as much laundry into the machine as possible, consistently overloading your washer can actually shorten its lifespan. Putting too many items into the wash can cause smaller pieces to get sucked down drainage tubes leading to damage and expensive plumbing bills.
The three main things a washing machine needs to clean your clothes are heat, movement and detergent. Generally speaking, the washer tub should only be filled up to about three-quarters full for a large load of laundry. You also want to leave about a hand’s length of space above the agitator if you have a front-load washer. This will help avoid rubbing fabrics against the agitator, which can cause them to crease and wrinkle.
5. Use the Right Cycle
If you use the right cycle for each load of laundry, you can significantly reduce your washer’s energy consumption. Each cycle determines how vigorously and long the clothes will be agitated, as well as how much water and energy is used.
For instance, the delicate cycle uses very little spinning and is appropriate for cotton or wool fabrics. The heavy duty setting is designed for towels and sturdy fabrics like jeans, utilizing a longer wash action with high-intensity agitation to get the clothes as clean as possible.
Make sure to carefully measure detergent before adding it to the machine. Using too much can lead to extra rinsing and wasteful water usage. Another way to save energy is to run full loads of laundry, rather than several smaller loads.