The Environmental Impact of Washing Machines

portable clothes washer eco friendly

It has been over a century since the first electric washing machine was invented. Since then, we’ve moved up to fully automatic machines that can perform complete wash and even drying cycles without any human interaction in-between. These machines are convenient, and the technology is often fascinating. However, they have a huge environmental impact, which continues to be a problem no matter how efficient the machines have become.

A Significant Carbon Footprint from a Necessary Household Task

Washing clothes uses fresh water and energy. Depending on how the energy is generated, the environmental impact could be significant or moderate. In an area where electricity is generated by gas fired power plants, the impact of using a washing machine would be relatively high. In a home that generates its own electricity from solar power, the impact would be significantly lower.

portable clothes washer save water
35 gallon drums to represent the average amount of water used per washing machine cycle.

Water usage in itself is also a major problem, and washing machines typically use more water than traditional hand washing. Multiple wash and rinse cycles are used ensures that clothes are thoroughly cleaned. Most modern washing machines range from 15 gallons for your high efficiency models up to 45 gallons of water per cycle! If hot water is used, even more electrical or gas energy is required to heat the water used for each wash and rinse cycle.

Additional polluting factors

In addition to the water and energy usage are other factors that have an environmental impact. The types of detergents we use can cause significant damage. Yes we all like to smell great and clean, it’s easy to get caught up in finding the detergent that smells best as we walk through the laundry isle. I’m sure it’s something we’re all guilty of at one point or another.

Tip: Essential oils are a great option while making homemade detergent that ensure you smell amazing. Some great smelling ones for laundry can be found here.

Smell aside, these detergents make their way back into our fresh water system when they leave our washing machines. No matter your view, there are implications of this in future human consumption of this water, damage to delicate aquatic ecosystems, and the trash containers that are discarded afterwards that have chemicals left in them to make their way into the earth.

portable clothes washer environmental impact

Any way that you look at it, washing machines have a significant environmental impact, and are among the biggest contributors to pollution and environmental damage in the average household. Washing and drying a standard load of washing (around 5kg), three times per week, can contribute up to 440kg of CO2 emissions in a single year. A larger family that is washing more clothes will have an even larger footprint.

Reducing The Damage

Simply washing clothes in cold water can significantly reduce the environmental impact of washing clothes. Studies have shown that washing with 30 degree water is just as effective as washing with 60 degree water. Modern detergents do most of the leg work.

You can also opt to use detergents that are environmentally friendly, including those that don’t use micro plastics, perfumes, enzymes, and other chemicals that can create ground and water pollution. Look for a detergent that is without chemical fragrance (natural scent is OK), and that uses other natural ingredients. Typically, most products marketed as natural laundry soap will have reduced environmental impact when compared to those that are marketed as detergents.

Check out some of these awesome detergent alternatives.

In addition to making changes with water temperature and the product you use to actually clean your clothes, you could also consider eliminating washing machines altogether.

Alternative Washing Methods

Eco friendly and environmentally sustainable washing can be achieved with the Breathing Mobile Washer. Hand operated and non-electric. The Breathing Mobile Washer is great  any time. Small steps and positive changes by individuals helps build a better future for everyone. The Mobile Washer can be used on delicate and standard clothing, as well as large and heavy items.

Some additional options that we personally recommend are the Ninja Portable Mini, its low tech little brother Wonderwash, and the tried and true old fashioned washboard.

Washing machines can make life more convenient, but they come with the downside of huge environmental impact. Hand washing with the Mobile Washer is not physically intensive and is a great way to reduce overall carbon footprint while still ensuring that clothing and other laundry is thoroughly and safely cleaned. As well as keeping you smelling great!

portable clothes washer clean laundry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *