According to Project Laundry List, commercial, industrial and residential clothes dryers use a whopping 15-20% of domestic energy in the U.S. In 2007 alone, clothes dryers in U.S. homes emitted 54.72 million metric tons of greenhouse gas-producing CO2.
If all Americans used a clothesline or folding drying racks just once a week, the savings would be enough to close several power plants!
The Benefits of Using a Clothesline
According to Department of Energy statistics, about 5.8 percent of electricity use in your home goes towards the clothes dryer. It typically costs 30 to 40 cents to dry a load of laundry in a residential electric dryer and approximately 15 to 20 cents in a gas dryer.
Over its expected lifetime of 18 years, the average clothes dryer will cost you approximately $1,500 to operate. Using a clothesline will not only reduce the need for energy derived from fossil fuels, but also save you money.
If you live in a community that has restrictions on clotheslines, consider getting a large, folding drying rack and putting it outside. You can also hang your clothes to dry indoors using an indoor clothesline, folding rack or a rack that mounts over your tub. (Here’s the one I use.)
Hanging indoors can be a great way to provide added humidity in the winter for cold and arid climates (removing the need for an additional appliance, the humidifier); however, in the Pacific Northwest and other locations prone to indoor mold, you should be careful before erecting a clothesline or rack in the basement.
The Greenest Laundry
Sometimes when you dry your clothes outside they can get stiff. Adding 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine will save you from needing to buy a toxic chemical fabric softener.
Vinegar works naturally to soften your clothing and has the added benefit of breaking down laundry detergent very effectively. This means less detergent-sensitive allergies for families with sensitive skin. Don’t be put off by the fragrance of vinegar. The odor disappears when the vinegar dries.
To prevent wrinkles, “snap” your clothes. You want to shake them one time so hard that they make a cracking sound. Then hang the clothes carefully. You can even use a hanger on the clothesline to save yourself a step.
To make your laundry completely eco-friendly, wash full loads of clothes in cold water using a non-toxic, biodegradable laundry detergent with a vinegar rinse, then hang your clothes out to dry in the sun.
If everyone in the U.S. used a clothesline or a drying rack just once a week, we could make a huge difference in reducing the damage we are doing to our environment with our dependence on fossil fuels—which is not only important for the planet, but is absolutely vital for the health of our families and communities too.
Thanks for doing your part!
This article was excerpted from my book Sustainability Starts at Home – How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. For more money-saving, planet-friendly tips, pick up a copy today!
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50 Ways to Love Your Mother contains 50 simple, “entry-level” ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Not only will these baby steps go easy on the planet, but they will go easy on your wallet, too.