Spending a little time thinking about how you wash and dry your clothes can have a big impact on your sustainable lifestyle. Combine your grandparents’ wisdom with some modern ingenuity and get some truly fantastic results. Some of the benefits include

  • Saving money and energy
  • Reducing odor and dust mites with sunshine and fresh air
  • Preserving colors and making clothes last longer by washing and drying without heat
  • Reducing your emissions and carbon footprint

By making your habits more efficient, you can make a big difference.

Drying Racks or Lines

There are many different kinds of drying racks to suit your needs. Some fold up to practically nothing and others hang from shelving units.

Indoors or Outdoors 

  • Clothes lines can be installed outdoors either in parallel lines or a roundabout style.
  • Portable racks can be placed indoors or out.
  • Drying racks can live in laundry rooms or other rooms in the house.


sustainable living
Cool Davis co-founder Judy Moores enjoys some sun and fresh air while she does her laundry. Courtesy photo.

Efficient Washers and Dryers

  • To find a dryer that best suits both your needs and your ideal consumption of energy, look for the Energy Star label . This label provides an estimate as to how much energy an appliance should consume annually.
  • Spin dryers, another eco-friendly option, use centrifugal force to remove water from clothes and do not have a heating element. Even though clothes won’t be completely dry, spin dryers significantly decrease the time needed to line or rack dry the clothes.

Washing and Drying Smarts

  • Wash in cold water
  • Use concentrated detergent formulas to reduce packaging and volume
  • If you use detergent in a plastic bottle, recycle or reuse the bottle
  • Only wash full loads
  • Separate towels to reduce dry time and get them cleaner
  • Avoid chlorine bleach and use oxygen bleach instead. Oxygen bleach is basically hydrogen peroxide and it is better for the environment because it naturally degrades into oxygen and water.
  • Whiten with lemon juice. Soak whites in a basin filled with very hot water and a generous amount of lemon juice overnight. Remove from the basin and wash as usual the next day. Another option is to add ½ cup to 1 cup of lemon juice to washer during the rinse cycle.
  • Clean out the lint filter! Lint can block air circulation and decrease the energy efficiency of the machine. It’s also an important safety measure.
  • Look for dryers with a moisture sensor option which turns the dryer off automatically when clothes are dry, preventing unnecessary wear and tear on clothes and saving energy.
  • If you use dryer sheets, be sure to scrub your filter on a monthly basis. A chemical film builds up on the filter which can decrease the airflow and force the dryer to work harder
  • Make sure to have full loads when running your machine
  • Avoid putting wet clothes in a load that is already partially dry since this will increase overall drying time.
  • Sort your clothes based on the thickness. Separate a light load from one with heavy items.
  • Run your loads back to back and take advantage of an already hot dryer.

Install a Greywater System

In terms of water consumption, we power through just under 11 million gallons of potable water a day here in Davis. Since June of 2014, we have reduced that number to 9 million.

A large portion of this drainage water is called greywater and it is anything but waste. In California, greywater is defined as discharge water from your laundry washing machine, showers and bathroom sinks only.

A simple gravity fed home based system allows you to irrigate your yard year round and requires very little maintenance.

Check out the upcoming Greywater Showcase for more information.

Greywater systems also reduce:

  • Demand on our potable water supply
  • Volume and costs of running the treatment plant
  • City ghg emissions
  • Total amount of your monthly water bill
laundry to landscape greywater system
Laundry to landscape greywater systems direct drainage water to the landscape via flexible tubing similar to regular drip tubing. Photo courtesy EcoAssistant.