We minimize our energy use when we wash our laundry and when we dry it.

Our washer

Cold water ©Janet Allen
We use the cold water setting

We have a front-loading washer that uses very little washer and very little energy. It also spins out more of the water than would a conventional washing machine. That would typically mean that less energy was used drying clothes in a clothes dryer, but for us it means that it's a lighter load to carry out to the yard to hang out.

Laundry detergents today function very well on the cold water setting.

In addition, we just put all our clothes in one load—lights and darks together. In the past, this would have been a recipe for disaster, but with modern fabrics and dyes, we haven't had any problem.

Of course, if we had more laundry, we could easily separate them into two full loads, but with just the two of us, we don't generate enough laundry to do this.

Avoiding the fossil-fuel dryer

Clothespin ©Janet Allen

Line-drying our laundry is an appropriate symbol of our green "good life". It's easy to do and doesn't even take much time once you have some practice since hanging the clothes isn't much different than shaking clothes out before folding them.

Rough towels? This is one complaint I've heard. Personally, we've grown to appreciate towels with character. (Yes, really.) And hand and dish towels generally soften quickly after we use them. We've also found that clothes dried on a windy day are softer.

Laundry List ©Janet Allen
We submitted our photo to Project Laundry List

We line dry for all the reasons listed on Project Laundry List:

  • 10) Save money - We haven't calculated our own savings, but we're using so much less electricity, it must be significant. (However, this is the least of the reasons we line-dry.)
  • 9) Clothes last longer - This must be true since some of our clothes that we wear around the house are 20 years old or more …
  • 8) Pleasant scent - We've been amazed not only at how fragrant sun-dried laundry can be, but also at how long the fragrance lasts. We love catching the sunny fragrance in our linen closet in winter! No fabric softener can beat it!
Clothesline  ©Janet Allen
Our backyard clothesline
  • 7) Saves energy, preserves environment, reduces pollution - We would line-dry for this reason if no other.
  • 6) Healthy work - We try to build fitness into our everyday life. I don't like exercising solely for the sake of exercise (though we do that, too), but we especially appreciate getting some exercise while we accomplish something else.
  • 5) Get the sunshine treatment - Sunlight bleaches and disinfects.
  • 4) Replace another appliance - We still have our 25-year-old electric dryer, which we haven't used more than a dozen times over the last ten years. Since we have it, it's a convenience for emergencies, but we could otherwise get along without it. We don't expect to ever buy another.
Our inside clothesline  ©Janet Allen
  • 3) Avoid a fire - (See the stats in the sidebar)
  • 2) It is fun! - We agree totally. This would also be reason enough.
  • 1) It is truly patriotic - The more energy we save, the more secure our country, and the less need for our military to protect oil around the world.

And winter doesn't stop us! We found these wonderful "gullwing"-style indoor clothes dryers that allow us to use clothespins rather than just draping the clothes over a rod.

The added humidity is a bonus in our gas-forced-air-heated home.