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When everybody is talking green, should we not look at green laundry too?

After the refrigerator, undoubtedly the washing machine adds on to the environmental issues with the various not-so-green laundry products that go down the drain. To begin with, at the home level, one could transform the laundry into an eco-friendly epicentre of green cleaning. Small changes in the wash process can lead to a greener way of reducing carbon footprints associated with the wardrobe. Treating clothes better means prolonging the life of the clothes and initiating a good laundry practice which gives good economical value. Thus, a laundry holds a great potential to reduce energy and water usage and thereby reduce environmental footprints through green practices.

Green Practices

  • Most of the energy is used to heat up the water in a washing machine. Use a cold water detergent to ensure that clothes get clean and do not shrink, wear or fade, as with hot water washes.
  • Always ensure to wash only full loads of laundry instead of partially full or smaller loads to ensure that the machine is operating at peak efficiency.
  • Constructively using the drained out last rinse water from washing machines (manually operated), for mopping floors could also be a big money-saver.
  • Conventional detergents have phosphates that cause algal blooms resulting in a negative effect on the ecosystems and marine life. Look for products that are biodegradable and made from plant- or vegetable-based ingredients.
  • Do not be afraid to wash the dirty stuff in cold water. Pre-soak it in washing soda or a bicarbonate based mixture to lift the stains, before putting it in the regular wash cycle. Moreover, hot water can set a stain whereas cold water allows it to be removed easily.
  • Hand wash delicates (silk) and other garments, including those made from cashmere and lamb’s wool using sapindus (reetha from soapnut tree) to get away from the exposure of perchloroethylene which could cause oesophageal, bladder and cervical cancer; eye, throat, nose and skin irritation; and reduced fertility.
  • Avoid chlorine bleach, commonly known as sodium hypochlorite, as it can be hazardous if it comes in contact with other cleaners to form toxic gases.
  • For removal of fresh stains, a paste of salt and lemon juice or baking soda with water can be used. It is also an all-purpose-cleaner.
  • Use of white vinegar to wash the soap out of fabrics, would certainly leave your cloth’s fluffiness behind. Baking soda can also be used for rinsing the clothes. Moreover, these do not have any health and environmental implications.
  • A couple of drops of lavender oil during the wash cycle can prevent the growth of mould and stop the bad smell from cropping up. In addition, it has natural anti-bacterial properties.
  • Clothes last longer when they are line dried, as there’s less wear and tear, than when using drier. Try drying the clothes in plain air and the stiff towels will suddenly feel much softer as well as smell fresh.
  • Avoid consuming electricity to iron clothes by hanging them up immediately after the wash is done. The weight of the moisture will help straighten out the fabric naturally.
  • Try more efficient manual or semi-automated washing machines instead of more electricity and water (approx. four times) consuming fully automated machines for attainable green changes.

The hospitality business, today, is going green in a big way. The tourism and hospitality industry find that Green Laundry could be made possible by:

  • Giving guests an option of not having their sheets and towels changed daily
  • Using worn towels and linen as cleaning rags
  • Ensuring a water reuse programme
  • Installing solar water heating systems
  • Reusing the condensate, collected from steam heaters or boilers
  • Purchasing energy star appliances as well as replacing old washing machines with both energy and water conserving machines
  • Buying organic cleaning agents, preferably in bulk.
Shubhangi Garg,
Asst. Professor, BCIHMCT

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