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There is no question that front-loading laundry appliances are very expensive. However, they are also the most energy efficient and they use much less water than top-loaders. The California Energy Commission estimates electricity savings at 56 percent over traditional sets. Front-loaders use less detergent and a gentler, alternating tumbling action to clean laundry without damage. Ultra-fast spin cycles remove more water, which leads to less drying time. Most front-loading machines manage larger loads than their top-loading counterparts, reducing the drain on electricity with fewer loads. Some efficient dryers condense and remove water with low heat instead of relying on high temperatures.
Reduce Duplicate Loads
Treat stains correctly the first time to save energy on repeated washings. Some stains only require a spritz of stain remover, but others need some elbow grease. Clean a set-in stain with treatment appropriate for the fabric and stain, then scrub the stain at a sink to be sure it is gone before laundering. Rub common stains like dirt and sweat with a bar of plain soap to prevent them from bonding with fibers while waiting for laundry day, suggests New Mexico State University. Soak whites in a bucket of warm water and oxygen bleach for several hours before laundering to take care of bleaching in advance, letting you use shorter wash cycles. The most energy-efficient stain remover is the sun. Place clothes in full sun all day to lighten and even remove general yellowing and baby formula stains on undershirts and other whites.
Wash Full, Cold Loads
Always wash full loads, and use cold water unless you must use hot for a special load. Small loads use as much electricity to wash as full loads, and you will wash clothes more often. Special cold-water detergent is effective without burdening your water heater. If you must wash a single item, consider hand washing or use the shortest machine cycle. Although full loads are best, don't overload the machine. Overloading leaves more water in clothes after spinning, which overworks the dryer.
Air-drying clothes is one of the biggest energy savers of all. If you have enough yard space and your community allows it, install a clothesline. If you can't, use a drip-dry rack or a retractable clothesline. Air-drying can make clothes stiff if too much water is left in the fabric after spinning or if there is not enough breeze. Tumble clothes in the dryer, without a dryer sheet, for a couple of minutes after air-drying to make them softer. Even slight heat will cause dryer sheets to leave softener deposits on dry clothes.