"Green" your laundry.
Detergents, fabric softeners and bleaches can be toxic to your family and to the environment. Some surfactants and fragrances in laundry detergents contain hormone-disrupting chemicals that can't always be removed by wastewater treatment plants and end up harming local wildlife. Chlorine bleach is not only poisonous for humans, but can create dangerous byproducts, such as dioxin, when flushed down the drain. Get your clothes clean without all of the pollution by switching to eco-friendlier cleaners. The companies Ecover, Sun & Earth, Seventh Generation and OxyPrime make less-toxic alternatives to traditional laundry detergents. Try nonchlorine bleach such as OxyBoost or Ecover's hydrogen peroxide-based option.
The eco-friendlier detergents and bleaches cost no more than standard
Switch to cold water.
Almost 90 percent of the energy used to wash clothes is used to heat the water, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Save money and energy. Wash your clothes in warm or cold water, instead of hot, using a detergent formulated for cold-water use
Turning the dial from hot to warm will cut your energy use by 50 percent per load, and save you up to $63 a year, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.
Line dry -- like grandma used to do.
Dry your clothes on a laundry line rather than throwing them in the dryer. Clothes dyers are the third-largest energy users in the home, behind the refrigerator and washing machine, costing more than $100 a year to operate, according to Project Laundry List.
Drying your clothes on the line can save you as much as $10 a month, said Brad Stroh, co-founder of Bills.com. Laundry lines vary in cost, from about $5 for a simple rope line to $500 or more for deluxe models.
No hint of lint.
Clean your dryer lint screen with every use and don't overload the dryer.
You'll save up to 5 percent on your electricity bill -- which could mean an energy-equivalent savings of 350 million gallons of gasoline per year if everyone did this. Also, run your dryer during off-peak hours. Check with your utility company to see if they offer discounted rates during off-peak hours and verify when those hours are. Better yet, use a clothesline.
From warm to cold.
Set warm wash and cold rinse cycles and save 90 percent of the energy used when using hot water only. And run your washer during off-peak hours.
Together, all U.S. households could save the energy equivalent of 100 thousand barrels of oil a day by switching from hot-hot to warm-cold cycles. Check with your utility company to see if they offer any discounted rates during off-peak hours.