After being hung up overnight in a breezy location, shirts worn once (even in the tropics!) smell quite fresh enough to wear again.

Washing and drying clothing are common activities that can use a lot of labor, energy and water and produce large amounts of wastewater - if we aren't careful. However, there are several best practices, like washing in cold water and line drying, which are not only better for the environment, but will make your clothes last longer. This reduces the burden of mending and replacing clothes, and saves resources for other uses. Hygiene is also a crucial aspect of clothing, and improper cleaning can lead to infection and diseases.

Washing can be laborious when there are no washing machines, but there are tools and devices that can be utilized to make washing easier and faster.

## Energy usage

We need to use less energy with efficient washers. Use unheated water (unless there is abundant solar hot water), and use renewable energy where possible.

## Water usage

The more water we use, the harder it is to process the waste water, and the more strain we place on the water supply.

We need to:

## Water pollution

Minimize the use of detergent, by:

• Remembering that water itself is a solvent - you probably don't need as much detergent as you're using now. Consider washing in water only, every second wash - this works surprisingly well especially if there are no stains, or you have solar water.
• Following other recommendations on this page to reduce the need for washing (air your clothes to keep clothes smelling fresher longer, and choice of clothing color).
• Washing in warm or hot water, as appropriate to the clothes - only as long as you have solar hot water!

Consider these words about the chemicals you use:

What do you do when you clean? You take dirt, you add more dirt in the form of chemical agents, and then you put all that dirt somewhere else - usually into the water supply. Once people appreciate that they make other things dirty when they make their clothes clean, they think differently about what they're doing...
Do you want to take a chemical derived from benzene, put it on your white clothes, let it absorb ultraviolet rays, get energized, and then emit ultraviolet rays with a bluish hue - all to trick your brain into thinking a graying shirt is white? Is there a value to that, especially when it may create health risks? Is it worth the hazards to your kids? - Gunther Pauli, head of Ecover.[1]

## Labor

You have better things to do than wash clothes, and you'd rather your hands didn't become dry and cracked from hours of handwashing, so you would probably prefer a washing machine rather than hand-washing your clothes. Many low income communities share the same thoughts, but cannot afford such a large purchase. Homes that do buy a machine, increase their environmental impact and energy demands as a result.

So, how do we find the best balance of efficiency and convenience for your budget? We need better designs, better practices and better detergents.

## Reducing the need for washing

Environmental impact and labor can both be saved by measures that reduce the need for washing: suitable choice of clothes (color and fabric) and habits such as hanging and airing clothes. See the Clothing page for more detailed suggestions.

Levi Strauss[1]recently claimed that putting their jeans in a freezer for a couple of days would kill most of the bacteria and smells. However an anarctic microbiologist has debunked this claim as a myth,[2] saying that "one might think that if the temperature drops well below the human body temperature they will not survive, but actually many will. Many are preadapted to survive low temperatures. And it takes only one survivor to repopulate your jeans when they warm up."

It might be true that freezing clothing reduces the smell. But freezing clothing does not make them clean or hygienic, so there is little benefit.

## Saving energy

About 90% of the energy used for washing clothes is for heating the water. There are two ways to reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes—use less water and use cooler water. Unless you're dealing with oily stains, the warm or cold water setting on your machine will generally do a good job of cleaning your clothes. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load's energy use in half.[3]

• Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
• Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
• Dry towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes.
• Don't over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.
• Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
• Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
• Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufacturers recommend using rigid venting material, not plastic vents that may collapse and cause blockages.
• Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks. Air-drying is recommended by clothing manufacturers for some fabrics.
• $Long-Term Savings Tip: Look for the ENERGY STAR and EnergyGuide labels. ENERGY STAR clothes washers clean clothes using 50% less energy than standard washers. Most full-sized ENERGY STAR washers use 18-25 gallons of water per load, compared to the 40 gallons used by a standard machine. ENERGY STAR models also spin the clothes better, resulting in less drying time. (Note: Energy STAR and EnergyGuide are U.S. programs, but similar programs exist in many developed countries) •$ Long-Term Savings Tip: When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry. Not only will this save energy, it will save wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.
• \$ Long-Term Savings Tip: ENERGY STAR does not label clothes dryers because most of them use similar amounts of energy, which means there is little difference in energy use between models.

## Saving water

A method of saving water is to re-use water from the rinse cycle for the next wash. A place is needed to store the water. Great care should be taken if color has come out in the water, not to use that water for washing light-colored clothing. Thus the best design is likely to use a tub or tank which is white or light colored on the inside, and which can be looked into to check the water.[expansion needed]

If you're in the market for a new washing machine, consider sinking your clothes into an energy-efficient one. It will not only conserve energy but, closer to home, can help lower your utility bills.

To help consumers see just how energy-efficient a washing machine is, the Federal Trade Commission requires manufacturers to post an EnergyGuide label on their appliances. The Guide shows how each model measures up — energy-wise — to others of the same size.

For many years, the Guides compared top-loading models with similarly sized top-loaders and front-loading washers with similarly sized front-loaders. But changes in technology and marketing are resulting in changes in the law: Starting July 2000, changes to the FTC's Appliance Labeling Rule and the familiar yellow-and-black EnergyGuide will make both more meaningful for consumers and manufacturers.

With front-loaders now more widely available for purchase in the U.S., the FTC has decided to require manufacturers to provide information that will compare all washing machines of a certain size (either "standard" or "compact") with others of the same size, regardless of whether they are loaded from the top or the front. The label change is expected to alert consumers to highly energy-efficient clothes washers and spur competition among U.S. manufacturers. Front-loaders, which have been popular for years in Europe, generally are considered more energy efficient than top-loaders, although they usually are more expensive, too.

## Separation and washing options

This section describes a procedure to ensure proper washing yet in a speedy and simple manner.

Some other methods describe more separation of laundry and several washing periods (for several types of fabrics), but that consumes more time, electricity, water and cleaning agent.

### Separation

When clothing is dirty, it may be separated immediately into a correct bin, so that the sorting of the laundry does not need to be done twice - this method means that two bins are placed in the room where the clothes are discarded (e.g. bathroom). There are one for white & heavily polluted clothes and one for colored clothes. However it is also a matter of the colorfastness of the fabric.

#### Separation method 1

• White and heavily polluted clothes and fabrics are sorted together. These include white clothing and fabrics as towels (kitchen towels, bath towels, ...), linen, white socks, and heavily polluted clothing as underwear, handkerchiefs, pillow cases, ... Note that most of the heavily polluted clothes are generally white as well so that no color blending can occur. Where this is not the case, an alternative method should be used. Also note that heavily polluted clothing refers to the amount of bacteria/microorganisms the clothing generally carries after use, not only the degree of visible filth.
• Colored clothes. These include pants, shirts, colored socks, skirts, ...

### Washing procedure

#### Washing method 1 (requires additional ironing afterwards)

The washing method for washing laundry with a washer machine after the separation method 1 has been followed is the following:

• The separated laundry piles (see laundry separation above) are inserted separately in the machine (thus in 2 runs). When the separation method 1 is used, the white and heavily polluted clothes/fabrics are washed at 60°Celsius and the colored clothes are washed at 40°Celsius.

### Ironing

After drying, the clothes may be ironed,W which de-wrinkles the clothes and may help with disinfection (see #Disinfection, below).

The de-wrinkling my be unnecessary, especially if the clothes are hung carefully and air flow is optimized when drying. Wrinkling may also be kept to a minimum by tricks such as adding vinegar to the washing machine.

## Disinfection

For people with compromised immune systems, or where clothes have been exposed to dangerous pathogens, it is important to ensure that disinfection occurs. For people without significant health problems, regular washing should be sufficient. One or more of the following steps may be important:

Washing - Thorough soaking and washing, cleaning the clothes thoroughly with soap or detergent, will remove the majority of pathogens. Increased soak and wash times help with the breakdown of these pathogens. Clothes, bed sheets, and fabrics that have come into contact with bodily fluids, should be removed and washed as soon as possible to reduce the spread of infection. Handle any potentially infected fabrics with nitrile/latex gloves, apron, and a face mask if possible.[4]

• Be sure to use adequate quantities of detergent. follow any instructions listed on the packaging of the product
• Hot water should be used with infected fabrics. Clean these separately from other laundry if possible. The fabrics should be exposed to water at a minimum temperature of 160°F (71°C) for at least 25 minutes during the washing process.[5]

Sanitizing -A separate step for further elimination of pathogens

• Unscented bleach can be diluted in water for sanitizing. Mix 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) of bleach per gallon of water. Use this solution within 24 hours to have the proper effect. Chlorine bleach becomes activated at water temperatures of 135°F–145°F (57.2°C–62.7°C)[6] Submerge and let soak for at least 5 minutes. Bleach can stain or damage some types of fabrics.

Drying

• In sunshine - in sunny conditions, the ultraviolet light the sun emits can help with disinfection. For example, this is effective for the clothing of people with golden staph infections.
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