Eco-quandary: Green laundry in winter

This week, MSN.com published an article with 11 ways to be an earth-friendly couple.  I’m proud to say we’re doing all of them.

But I wish the author had made 12 points and included my favorite, hanging laundry to dry. By not using an electric clothes dryer, you can save 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide in a year and save $60.

With winter coming on, I’ll concede that the weather isn’t always dandy for hanging laundry out. At the moment, we’ve got six inches of snow on the ground and more coming. The winter before last, when our dryer had died, I hung clothes out in 20-degree weather, and it was painful.

This year, I’ll be compromising:

  1. Choose the nicest day of the week to do laundry. Here, we often have 40- or 50-degree days during the winter. I’ll target laundry for those days and hang it out as early as possible so it has all day to dry. If I wash the clothes the night before and pile them in a basket wet, the winter chill doesn’t let any mildew accumulate by morning.

  2. Break loads up throughout the week. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, by doing just one load a day, I have a better chance of being able to hang the whole load up inside — using my folding wooden rack, hanging multi-hook racks, and clothes hangers over the laundry sink and hanging from the laundry-room rafters.

  3. Combine loads. If I get stuck washing several loads at once, and it’s too cold or wet to hang laundry out, I’ll consolidate. Hang up some clothes and combine a couple of loads’ “leftovers” into one dryer load. Hanging up jeans, sweaters and shirts not only makes the load lighter — it keeps the clothes from shrinking (especially common with my pants, and I’m 5’9″ so I need all the length I can get) and extends their wear. Hanging undies preserves their elastic and similarly extends wear (and eliminates unsightly snags).

  4. Add a retractable clothesline in the laundry room. I’m adding this to Mr. Cheap’s “honey do” list.

  5. One tiny change I do … I have to confess that I hate static cling, so when I do dry shirts and such, I do throw in a dryer sheet. But pay attention — I find that I can re-use the dryer sheet three or four times before it loses its magical powers. The box says to use one per load because you’ll use up four times as many dryer sheets … and buy them four times as often.

What’s on your laundry list?

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2 thoughts on “Eco-quandary: Green laundry in winter

  1. alottaerrata says:

    With the weather in New England being mostly damp and icy in the winter, I don’t even try to dry my clothes outside. Instead, I just move my drying racks inside. It may be a bit slower than drying my clothes in the summer sun, but it sure beats shoveling the porch off to make room for my laundry.

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