Washing Machine or Greenhouse Machine?

Have you ever wondered how much greenhouse gas you were producing every time you threw your laundry into the washing machine?

Same thing with the clothes dryer. Have you ever wondered how much your clothes dryer was contributing towards your carbon footprint?

Well, here are some statistics the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) has come up with:

  • Washing machine: Each year, the energy used to run an average washing machine produces 90 kilograms of greenhouse gas.
  • Warm water: If you wash your clothes using warm water, add another 475 kilograms of greenhouse gas to this. This works out to be around 4 kilograms of greenhouse gas produced per wash.
  • Dryer: If you use a dryer, add another 150 kilograms to that.
  • Detergents: For top loading washing machines, the production of washing detergent generates around 0.3 kg of greenhouse gas per wash. For front loaders, it’s around half of that.

What surprised me is the amount of greenhouse gas produced by using warm water. I knew clothes dryers used up a lot of energy but I wasn’t expecting the hot water to produce more than 3 times the greenhouse gas compared to the dryer. I’m glad I only use cold water to wash my clothes!

If you combine the 90 kg (from running the washing machine) with 475 kg for the water, you end up with 565 kilograms of greenhouse gas produced each year - just from washing your clothes!

If you use warm water and a dryer, you could be producing a staggering 715 kilograms of greenhouse gas just from doing your laundry!

What to do about this?

By doing the following, you can help reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Use cold water to wash your clothes. As seen above, using cold water can significantly reduce the greenhouse gases produced from washing your clothes. By using cold water, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 4 kilograms per wash!
  • Don’t waste washing detergent. Production of washing detergent contributes to greenhouse gases.
  • Buy washing detergents made from natural substances. They will contribute much less to your carbon footprint.
  • Avoid washing clothes that don’t really need to be washed.
  • Another thing we can do is, when clothes shopping, look for clothes with self cleaning properties. Some clothes available today come with a self-cleaning textile finish called NanoSphere.
  • Avoid using the clothes dryer. Hang your clothes on the clothes line if you can. With a good breeze, your clothes will be dry in no time!

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7 Responses to “Washing Machine or Greenhouse Machine?”

  1. dryer_alternative Says:

    A spin dryer is an another way to greatly reduce your carbon footprint when doing laundry. It only uses 300 watts, and runs for about 3 minutes, as opposed to conventional dryers which run for nearly an hour and use 5000 watts. More information is available at http://www.laundry-alternative.com/drying.htm
    They can also be very useful in cases where it is too damp for clothes to dry properly on a clothesline, before they get a musty smell.

  2. Zach Smith Says:

    There are now high efficiency washing machines that cuts back on energy and water consumption. These washers have been integrated with a mind of its own to detect the exact amount of water needed or the exact amount of drying time to conveniently wash and dry your clothes. But yes, there are so many things we can do to lessen carbon footprint use. Since most of the energy used by washing machines are from its heating element, pre-treat your clothes first if there are stains and only use the cold water cycle. In addition to that, sun dry your clothes instead of using the dryer.

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