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Wear & Care
5 Laundry Rules To Live By
10-29-12
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Sustainable style isn't just about the way we shop–washing, drying and ironing account for 36% of a garment's total environmental footprint. The good news: small changes can go a long way toward greening your laundry routine, and they'll even save you money in the process.

1. IT'S A WASH?
Did you know that fibers like silk, wool, cashmere and mohair can be hand washed? Laundry time is one occasion when it pays to be label conscious. If you frequently send items to the dry cleaner, develop a habit of checking the care labels on your clothes. By knowing which materials can be laundered at home, you could end up reducing your environmental impact and saving big bucks. 

2. LET IT ALL HANG OUT
Conventional dryers aren't just bad for your electric bill—they're no friends of your clothes, either. In addition to literally using loads of energy, dryers can shrink garments and deteriorate their fibers. Opt to air dry instead, whether indoors on a rack or outside on a clothesline. A neat perk during the wintertime is that indoor rack drying will also act as a natural humidifier, helping you combat the dry skin that’s so common during the season.

3. WATER WORKS
If you hate to iron, here's a great reason to break out that ironing board only as a last resort: steaming clothes uses far less energy. An added bonus is that the process also freshens clothes, thus maximizing the time between dry cleanings (or hand washings!).

4. DON'T PERC UP
If you are taking an item to the dry cleaner, ask about the solvents they use and whether they employ non-toxic cleaning alternatives like wet cleaning or liquid CO2 cleaning. Whenever possible, avoid dry cleaners that use a solvent called perchloroethylene (perc, for short). Used by an overwhelming majority of traditional dry cleaners, perc is a known carcinogen that's also been linked to liver and kidney damage. It can get into the air, water and soil in the dry cleaning process.

Regardless of who dry cleans your clothes, there are also small changes you can make that will add up over time. These include switching to reusable dry cleaning bags, asking your cleaner to skip the plastic and, of course, recycling your hangers.

5. RAGE AGAINST THE (INEFFICIENT) MACHINE
Ok, there's no need to rage. In fact, if your current washer and dryer work just fine, please don't go out and replace them. But if and when you’re shopping around for new laundry equipment, remember that energy efficient models will save water, energy and, in some cases, even detergent—and they'll bring your utility bills right down with them.


SUGGESTED READING: If you're going to machine wash your clothes, here's how to do it.