In the early days of the Green Baby Guide, I admitted to some baby “rules” I violate to save the planet.  One of them is separating baby clothes from the rest of the laundry–a guideline I heard during our childbirth class and read in various baby books and websites.   I am not sure what the reasoning behind that bit of advice is; certainly if someone in the house has a contagious illness there are easier ways to catch it than wearing clothes that have been washed in the same load.

The average family of four does more than seven loads of laundry a week.  Many people wash even more than that, according to the answers to this Yahoo question.  We (three of us) don’t do any more than three–maybe four–loads a week, and that includes diaper laundry! (We also use cloth napkins and dish towels instead of paper towels.)   Reducing the amount of laundry you do can save thousands of gallons of water, not to mention electricity.  If you have a 40 gallon top-loading machine and wash a load a day, you’re using over 14,000 gallons of water to wash your clothes every year!  Tumble drying all those clothes could release as much as 1,825 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere in a year’s time, depending on where you live.

So how can you cut down on laundry?  Here are three ideas:

  • 1. Don’t be so obsessive about cleanliness. Re-wear clothes and re-use towels until they’re actually dirty. It’s okay to change sheets no more than once a year. (Just kidding on that last one.)
  • 2. Wash full loads. A load is full when it’s filled to the top with clothes without stuffing them in.
  • 3. Don’t sort clothes. If you have trouble making full loads all in one color/fabric type, try combining them. (Make sure to wash in cold water so your whites don’t turn pink.) I do separate clothes by color, which means I wash whites much less frequently than darks, since we prefer darker clothes.

Doing much less laundry works for me.  (For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, check out Rocks in My Dryer.)  How many loads of laundry do you wash per week?   Any more tips for reducing the amount you do?

More Green Baby Guide laundry posts:

Offsetting Water Used to Wash Cloth Diapers

Line Drying Trouble-shooting

Using a Drying Rack to Fight Global Warming

Washing Cloth Diapers in an Apartment: Eco-friendly or Totally Nuts?

Save Energy, Money, and Water with a Front-loading Washing Machine

The Cheapest Eco-friendly Laundry Detergent

Green Breakthrough: Save Energy by Washing Cloth Diapers in Cold Water

Finding Diaper-friendly, Earth-friendly Detergent

Washable vs. Disposable: Environmental Debates to Ponder