By Lauren Langdon

 Save money, lower energy usage and add fewer chemicals to the wash with these 11 easy, dirt-defying laundry tips.

1. Wash clothes less often

Even energy-efficient washing machines use about 23 gallons of water for every load of laundry. Simply reducing the number of times you wash clothes will reduce water and energy usage, and clothing will last longer. So if it isn’t dirty or smelly, hang up those jeans and wear them again. A quick way to remove odors on unwashed clothes is to spray on a 50/50 mixture of vodka and water. The alcohol eliminates the odors, and the alcohol smell vanishes as the clothes dry. When you do wash, do only full loads of laundry to be as efficient as possible.

2. Ditch the chemical dryer sheets

wool-dryer_webUsing commercially produced dryer sheets for every load leads to non-recyclable waste and chemicals in your clothes. One alternative is to use Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day dryer sheets, which are made from plant-based ingredients and essential oils and have the added benefit of being compostable. In addition to being plant-based and compostable, Seventh Generation dryer sheets have packaging made from 100-percent recycled content. Wool dryer balls are an even more environmentally friendly option because they can be used many times. Soft By Nature, Inc. created Woolzies, handmade wool dryer balls guaranteed to last 1,000 loads, and to reduce energy use by cutting dryer time an average of 25 percent. You can also make your own by rolling wool into balls and tying one into a pair of pantyhose or tights. If you miss the scent from dryer sheets, you can add essential oils to the balls, which can be reused for years. For more wool dryer ball directions, go to www.diynatural.com.

3. Reduce dryer times

Not only will shorter time in the dryer save energy, but it will also extend the life of your clothes. Hang laundry on clothing lines outside or on hangers on an ironing board or drying rack. (Check with your homeowners association for rules regarding visible clotheslines.) Be careful when drying dark clothes outside, as this may cause the clothes to fade. Use over-the-door hangers for longer items like pants and dresses. Avoiding the dryer altogether also eliminates the need for dryer sheets.

4. Buy energy-efficient machines

If you are looking for a new washing machine, consider an ENERGY STAR appliance that has been rated for efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions by the Environmental Protection Agency. Even though energy-efficient washers and dryers may cost more initially, they use less water and energy than less-efficient appliances. For a list of ENERGY STAR certified washing machines, go to www.energystar.gov/.

5. Use eco-friendly detergents

42-43-laundry-04422v1m_webUsing plant-based products and non-chlorine bleach prevents toxic chemicals from entering the water supply. Plant-based products often work well in cold water, which saves energy when doing laundry since heating up the water accounts for about 90 percent of the energy used. Indigo Wild, a Kansas City-based company, offers Zum Clean, a natural alternative to detergents that softens fabrics, eliminating the need for fabric softener, and is low-suds, which means less water is needed for each load. The 100-percent biodegradable, septic-tank-safe laundry soap is sold online at www.indigowild.com and at many locations in the Kansas City area. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Laundry Detergent is also biodegradable and comes in five scents: basil, lavender, lemon verbena, geranium and baby blossom. The detergent contains anionic surfactants from plant-derived sources and the ingredients are at least 97-percent naturally derived. It’s available at many local grocery stores and at www.mrsmeyers.com.

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