Doing laundry can account for up to 22% of water usage in our homes. Each load we wash can use up to 41 gallons of water depending on your machine. If you’ve got a busy household and are doing multiple loads of laundry during the week that can really add up! But there are lots of ways to save water and still keep your family’s clothes fresh and clean.
From making sure you’re only washing full loads to choosing the right detergent these 12 surprisingly easy tips for saving water when you do the laundry could cut your laundry water use by 50% or more!
The first couple of tips might be ideas you use or have heard of but keep reading to the end to find out if you’re using all 12. How do you score on saving water in the laundry room?
12 of the Best Ways to Save Water When Doing Laundry
1. Skip the extra rinse cycle. Check to see if you’re using the right cycle or settings on your washer. Many people will tell you that you need to get an energy-efficient washer and if you’re in the market for a new one, then that is great advice. Definitely do that. (There are some tips for picking out the best one below.) But if you’ve got a perfectly good washer that works well and has a lot of service left in it, it doesn’t really make sense to ditch it for a newer model. You’re just adding to the landfill and wasting resources.
So take a look at your “old reliable” and see what setting might be more water saving. Oftentimes the permanent press cycle will have an extra rinse. You don’t really need that extra rinse if you’re using the correct amount of detergent. So switch to a cycle that doesn’t use that extra water.
2. Use the right size load cycle. It’s a best practice to wait until you have a full load to run your washing machine, but if you’ve got a smaller load you have to do then be sure you’re choosing that setting on your washer. We all have those times when we need to do that one pair of jeans that are just critical to the outfit that we or the kids need to wear.
3. Don’t wash your jeans every time you wear them. Speaking of jeans, did you know they don’t really need to be washed all that often? In fact, they’ll last longer if you don’t wash them every time you wear them. There are differing opinions on how often you need to wash jeans. But the consensus seems to be that if you are only wearing them for leisure activities then you probably don’t need to wash them more than every couple of weeks. (Presuming you are wearing underwear.)
Some people wash them much less frequently. If you are wearing them to work in the garden or do construction work or something that is a sweaty kind of activity then you’ll want to wash them more often.
One other thing to consider is if they are the skintight legging type of jean then you will want to wash those more frequently as well because of how tight the contact is between the fabric and your skin.
4. Don’t wash your bath towel after every shower or bath. If you’re clean when you dry yourself off then the towel you use is going to stay pretty clean. You can just hang up that towel (spread it out so it actually dries between uses) and use it again. You may only need one or two bath towels a week depending on the amount of humidity and how well they are drying between uses.
Towels are really bulky and take up a lot of space in the laundry. If you can cut your towel use in half it could save you a load of laundry (or more for bigger families) each and every week.
5. Get family members on board. We all know that kid (or maybe were that kid!) who wore something for 5 minutes and then threw it in the laundry basket or on the floor. We want our kids to be clean, but just because something touches your skin doesn’t make it instantly dirty and in need of washing.
Talk to kids about saving water and maybe wearing an item of clothing, like a sweatshirt that they wore over a t-shirt, for another day before they need to put in the wash.
This can be a tricky line to walk. Obviously you don’t want anyone leaving the house smelling like old, unwashed clothes. You know your kids (or spouse) and whether they are prone to toss clothes into the laundry more often than they need to or not. Some kids will wear the same favorite t-shirt for days on end when it really does need to go in the wash. So counsel accordingly.
6. Choose your wardrobe carefully. Black or dark clothes are much less likely to show dirt. So if you want to wash your clothes less often then dark clothing is a great choice. Does this mean you are locked into dressing like Johnny Cash or Morticia Adams? Absolutely not. But if you’d like to wash your pants or tousers less often the darker ones are going to be a lot easier to do that with than the lighter ones.
7. Upgrade your sheets to linen. Here’s a tip that gets to the earlier end of the chain when it comes to saving water. Linen is made from flax which takes about 1/3 of the water to make into cloth in comparison with cotton. Linen is more eco-friendly overall because it takes less fertilizer, and fewer pesticides and chemicals to produce in comparison to cotton.
But to stick with the water-saving aspect, linen also absorbs odors less than cotton and so doesn’t need to be washed as often.
BONUS – linen dries faster than cotton so will take less energy in the dryer as well. Yes, linen is pricier than cotton. But it will also last longer and feel AWESOME! So you might want to upgrade to linen when it’s time for new sheets.
8. Teach kids to do laundry with saving water in mind. If you’re lucky enough to have kids that are old enough and responsible enough to help with the laundry then be sure to show them what laundry cycles to use to save water.
Show them how many clothes can be washed in a medium or small cycle load, etc. if this is necessary. If doing the laundry isn’t their usual chore they may not know what selections are best so taking a few minutes to show them can really help keep the water-saving going and train them well for when they are on their own.
8. Use the right detergent. Be sure to choose a concentrated detergent. This has several benefits. The first one being that in a gallon size bottle of detergent that isn’t concentrated you have mostly water along with a few chemicals. When there is less water in your detergent it not only uses less water in the manufacture of it, it usually uses less packaging (smaller amounts of plastic).
It’s also more efficient to transport between the factory and the store, and you don’t need to haul as many heavy bottles of detergent home. So using a concentrated detergent is a great green idea that saves water and energy.
Here are some concentrated and eco-friendly laundry detergents you might like to try. They are all available through Amazon and are eligible for Prime Shipping. Check out the benefits of each and see if you find a good match for your laundry needs. Dropps Seventh Generation, and Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent
9. Get more underwear. I wouldn’t suggest wearing your underwear more than once before washing. In fact, I’d definitely say that’s a no no. So be sure that you have enough of those basic undergarment items so that you don’t need to do a load of wash just because you are out of panties or t-shirts or whatever you wear on a daily basis.
If you’ve got more pairs on hand you may find you can go an extra 3 or 4 days without having to wash and that way you’ll be sure you’re only running full loads.
10. Consider wearing an undershirt under that sweater. If you live in a colder climate layering can not only keep you warmer, but also save on laundry. Get a few soft and lightweight long-sleeved t-shirts to wear under sweaters or sweatshirts.
Unless you spill on the outer garment, you only need to wash the lightweight undershirt and that can save a lot of space in the washer as well as wear and tear on your sweaters. I use this tip all the time and swear by it.
11. Buy cheaper towels. O.K., maybe not “cheap” towels. But consider, do you really need that giant fluffy bath sheet? Would a slightly smaller size towel with that’s a little lighter weight work just as well.
Believe me – I LOVE big soft fluffy towels. But when staying at a condo for a couple of weeks on vacation I had to use smaller, somewhat thinner and definitely less dense and fluffy towels than I have at home.
You know what – they worked just as well. AND two of those bath towels fit in the same space as my deluxe towels at home. Plus, they dried a lot faster, both in the dryer and on the towel rack. If you can fit twice as many towels in a load of wash – you’ll save a lot of water.
12. Buy a high-efficiency wash machine. O.K., so now that we’ve covered all the other tips you can use to save water when you’re doing laundry without taking the plunge and buying a new washer, if you are in the market for a new machine you’ll definitely want to get a high-efficiency one.
As I mentioned a standard clothes washer uses up to 41 gallons of water per load. A high-efficiency washer can use as little as 20-28 gallons per load. So right there you’ve got a huge water savings. You’ll save on electricity as well.
Wish there was some way to know which washer is the most efficient without having to do a lot of comparison shopping and dealing with pushy salespeople? There is! Check out the EnergyStar.Gov website that will give you all the info you need on both energy and water use for a variety of washing machines without leaving the comfort of your computer.
How Did You Score?
How many of these tips are you using when you do laundry? If you scored between 10 and 12 then you are an AWESOME water-saving Laundry Diva!
If you didn’t score that high, which of these tips could you try to easily save more water each time you do laundry?
What works for you?
If you’ve got additional tips on saving water in the laundry room, please share them below!