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Your Home Environment Resource - University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Household Hints & HELP!

Keepign the Lid on Laundry and Dirty Dishes

submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator
This article appeared in the May 9, 2004 Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper.

As we enter summer season, many areas are still experiencing a drought. Regardless of local conditions, water conservation is a good everyday policy. That way, when water restrictions are necessary, conservation practices will be automatic.

When it comes to laundry and dishwashing, water conservation and energy savings can go hand-in-hand. This brings environmental and economic benefits, no matter what the weather conditions.

For energy-efficient laundering and dishwashing, do it right the first time. Re-washing wastes water and energy. For laundering, pretreat or presoak stains and heavy soils. This will give the best stain removal without using extra hot water or re-washing. Almost all the energy used by washing machines is for heating the water. If possible, wash most loads in warm water and rinse all loads in cold water. Match the water level to the load size. Wash a full load, but donít overload the washer. This can result in dingy clothes that need to be re-washed. If a new washing machine is on the horizon, check out the high efficiency (HE) washers, which use one-third to two-thirds less water and one-third to one-half less energy than traditional washers.

Some simple practices can make clothes drying more efficient. Separate lightweight and heavyweight items so drying is more uniform. Reload the dryer while itís still warm from a previous leoad to take advantage of residual heat. Donít overload, donít overdry and donít let dry garments sit in the dryer. This causes wrinkling, which means ironing (a.k.a. using more energy!).

When using the dishwasher, scrape off excess food particles and let the dishwasher do the rest. Pre-rinsing wastes water and is usually not necessary. Wait until the dishwasher is full before running. It unlike a washing machine, the water volume on a dishwasher cannot be adjusted to match the size of the load. However, the ďlight soilĒ cycle, which uses less water, should be used when dishes are lightly soiled. Select the ďair dryĒ cycle if the dishwasher has one. To keep the dishwasher running efficiently, clean the filter as recommended by the use and care guide.

Take time to review your familyís water usage and develop a conservation plan. Remember every drop counts.

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