Washing Green: How to Save Energy and Water at Home

Water – it’s the key ingredient for washing our clothes, but it’s also one of the earth’s most precious resources. So, how can we save energy, save water, protect the environment – and still have perfectly clean laundry? Whether you are one of the 50 million households for whom water is a scarce resource, or one of the 10% of people (that’s more than 700 million worldwide) who still lack a steady supply of clean water, we all have one thing in common: we can’t live without it. And you may also have noticed that we use rather a lot of it when doing our laundry. So, what can we do to cut down how much we use?

 

Ways to Save Water at Home

Shorter washes

The average washing machine uses 10 litres of water for every kilogram of cotton it washes on the standard 40o C cotton program – for a standard 5kg machine, that’s 50 litres per wash.Using a shorter cycle, therefore, is the quickest route to saving water at home, plus you’ll save energy too. In fact, if we moved all of Europe’s 26 billion washes from two-hour to 30-minute cycles, we would save around 40 billion hours of machine use and cycle time, which in turn would save more water and more energy. Not to mention the fact that less wear and tear on your machine means it should last longer. It is also more economical to wash full loads or use a half-load setting, if you have one. You might also want to consider how often you wash different items. When washing by hand, we have more control over how much water we use. To make it easier, we’ve developed Surf excel Easy Wash – it’s special formula cuts the foam and neutralises the detergent instantaneously so that you only need one bucket of water for a full rinse.

 

Ways to Save Energy at Home

Stay cool

The main energy-guzzling culprit is heating the water. In fact, it’s around 80% of the energy used in an average load of laundry. We’d recommend washing most things at 30˚C to save energy. Many people think they won’t be able to get their clothes perfectly clean without hot water, although many items (e.g. delicates and colours prone to running) actually prefer a cool wash and most stains can be loosened by presoaking (see here for advice on how to remove specific stains). We’ve also been working hard to increase the power of our detergents; Surf excel Liquid Detergent is perfect for lower temperatures at shorter washes.

Don’t Throw it Away

And once you’ve finished your hand wash, all of that water is still a valuable resource. Use it to clean perhaps the garden path, the kitchen or the kids’ bikes. There’s often simple ways to save water like this, so keep an eye out for opportunities! For more tips on saving water and energy at home, see our Sustainable Living Plan