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7 helpful (and enviro-friendly) washing tips that we wish we knew sooner.

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Thanks to our brand partner, OMO

When we air our dirty laundry, are we comfortable with what is revealed?

Possibly not, if you're like me and have every intention of being more of an eco-warrior while ticking off the household chores, but know there's a lot more we can do for the health of the planet.

My kids are fully aware of this. They're fully into things like 'nude food' lunchboxes and even taking their own reusable cups for takeaway babycinos.

But around the house, it's a little trickier. With the washing machine used at least once a day in Aussie homes, the laundry is responsible for a large portion of the environment's increasingly heavy load.

So what can we do on a daily basis to make an actual difference? Here are a few things I've discovered.

1. Waste less water with your washer.

We’re still Water Wallys in this country, with official figures showing Australians are the greatest per consumers of water per capita, using an average of 100,0000L of freshwater per person a year. With population growth and climate change making rainfall less reliable, we must try to use less.

When it’s time to buy a washing machine, know that while front loaders are generally a little more expensive to buy, the gains come from using less water, energy and detergent.

They work by gently tumbling your washing over and over, and often require less ironing afterwards because the garment hasn’t been twisted into a loop. Plus, they're not as harsh on your clothes.

There's an EcoPerfect button on our front loader that is the only wash cycle I use – I find it does the same job as a regular wash function but in less time and with less water.

2. Switch to cleaner products without paying more.

Making more sustainable choices can start with what you're putting in your shopping trolley. For starters, when I'm shopping with kids we use reusable mesh sacks for fruit and veg, buy recycled toilet paper, and look for more sustainable washing liquids and cleaning sprays. 

My son is four and he already knows what products are, in his words, “helping the environment” and looks to me for guidance as we scour the aisles. The kids know to look on packaging for the recycling label and what the little arrows mean. It’s a proud mum moment when non-recyclables are shelved and they look for an alternative.

We reach for Omo, firstly because the packs contain between 25 and 35 per cent post-consumer recycled plastic and are 100 per cent recyclable.

But also because Unilever, Omo's parent company, is helping clean up the homecare category, investing $1.62 billion AUD into removing fossil fuel-derived chemicals from its cleaning and laundry products by 2030. As one of the first big changes, the Omo liquid reformulation is now using naturally-derived stain removers and plant-based ingredients, meaning the products are less reliant on carbon. 

It's a big win for shoppers like me who are eager to buy better, but struggle to find trusted and cost-effective brands that are kinder to the planet. The result is a product that is better for the environment but provides greater cleaning and hygiene results - at the same price as regular laundry liquid. 

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3. Fill up, switch off.

Machines often use the same amount of energy and water to wash a full load as a partial load, so I try to get as many of the family’s dirty clothes in the washer to save myself time with the bonus that it’s a more environmentally friendly way of washing. 

Consumer advocacy group Choice says you might be surprised to learn just how much your washer can actually handle, so get out the bathroom scales to check how much you can fit in there.

Many appliances continue to use energy even when switched off because they remain in standby power mode. This can add up to three per cent of a household’s energy use, so switch off at the wall after the washing’s done.

Only wash when you're ready to fill up. Image: Getty.

4. Wash in cold water.

Heating water is by far the biggest user of energy when washing fabric, and can shrink fade or permanently wrinkle your favourite blouse.

Washing in cold water saves energy and your back pocket (hint: dissolve powder detergent before adding to the washer to improve its performance in a cold wash).

5. The good ol' pre-treat.

It’s quite simple: if you put a little work in before the wash, you're saving yourself having to (wastefully) wash them twice. Put a drop of washing detergent on the stain and blot it as quickly as you can.

Trying to pre-treat immediately after you drop something on your shirt makes it much easier to remove and you will avoid having to resort to much harsher treatment that is not as kind to your clothes.

6. Make a hierarchy of what needs to be washed.

Jeans don't need to be washed as often. Image: Getty.

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Have one of those kids who changes their outfit 10 times a day? So do I. Their clothes might be worn, yes, but they certainly aren’t dirty and in need of washing. 

Don’t throw them in the wash once they’ve thrown them on the floor. Put them away and let them wear again. You would be surprised how little is actually soiled.

Apart from socks and jocks or workout gear, you should get a couple of wears out of your own clothes before putting them in the washing machine too. It's like a hierarchy or pyramid of washing.

Jeans and jumpers can go even longer between washes (they're lower down the pyramid).

Wearing clothes several times prevents them from wearing out through excessive laundering and will save a lot of energy and resources because less power, detergent and water is required.

7. Less dryer time, more life for your clothes.

I doubt I'm the only one who loves the smell of freshly washed linen that's been left outside to dry. But that's just a bonus, because keeping your clothes out of the dryer extends their life, slashes household energy use and saves you money.

An outdoor clothesline makes an easy, breezy job of drying your clothes and lightens and brightens whites when hung out to dry in direct sunlight. Foldable clothes racks indoors eliminate the need for pegs and your washing can be drying in any weather.

If you do need to use a dryer, an extra spin cycle in the wash will squeeze out extra moisture and slash drying time. 

So, have we missed anything? Tell us below what your best enviro-friendly tips are for washing.

Feature image: Getty.

OMO
We all want a cleaner future for our world. That is why OMO is changing. We are now delivering amazing stain removal in the most sustainable way we can. Our new and improved OMO liquids are now kinder to the planet with naturally derived stain removers, biodegradable enzymes and packs that contain between 25 and 35 per cent recycled plastic and that are 100 per cent recyclable. Now, OMO can play its part in the fight against climate change and to help to preserve, restore and regenerate the earth’s natural resources.
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