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Dishwashers and laundry machines waste a significant amount of water and energy. For example, each time you use your dishwasher, you can waste up to two pounds of CO2. And according to the New York Times, nearly three quarters of our greenhouse gas emissions from washing laundry comes from heating the water. An essential action for reducing waste is to always use cold water with these machines. Hot water rarely disinfects more than cold water, and is really only useful when your clothes have stains.

The Hot Water Myth

You’ve probably heard that hot water is a better disinfectant than cold. In fact, water doesn’t kill things off unless it boils. Even then, bacteria usually only dies around 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit- and your washers never get that hot. Moreover, soap is the prime ingredient for killing off bacteria.

However, hot water does get stains out better than cold water. So for dishwashers, cold water is always preferable when washing dishes – in fact, you can buy cold-water detergents that are designed for cold temperatures. For laundry, use hot water only when you have stains in clothing.

Don’t forget! When a washer or dryer breaks down, always replace your laundry machines and dishwashers with ENERGY STAR-labeled devices.

Air Dry

Air dry both your laundry and dishes as often as you can. Line-drying or using a clothes rack next to a sunlit window will help clothes to dry faster. And air drying dishes is what most Americans do already!

Reduce Your Use

The most important thing you can do is to use these machines sparingly. Always try to use these machines with full loads if possible. Remember – your dishes and clothes are going to get cleaned anyways, so it doesn’t hurt to leave them around a little longer so that you can run a full load.


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