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A better load of laundry

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© iStockphoto.com/Sarah Bossert © iStockphoto.com/Sarah Bossert

By Dana Courtney

As a yoga instructor, sweat is part of the job description, so I spend a lot of time on laundry each week to keep my clothes fresh. Unfortunately, my constant washing has left my clothes looking worn-in and stretched out. Knowing there must be a better (and greener!) way, I turned to eco-expert Renee Loux, author of Easy Green Living, for advice.

According to Loux, a more eco-friendly load of laundry not only supports the environment, but also extends the life of your family's clothes. Here are some of her great tips:

1. Use cold water. Heating the water accounts for 85 to 90 percent of the total energy use of your machine. Cold water not only gets clothes just as clean as warm water, but it also keeps colors brighter and fabrics looking better, longer.

2. Use a concentrated detergent. Concentrated formulas have less water per weight, so they can do more with less. Getting more product out of its packaging is one perk, and it also reduces the excess soapy residue that can dull colors and make clothes look worn.

3. Hang-dry, but air-fluff. The dryer accounts for a lot of your home's energy use, and heat can shorten the lifetime of your clothes. Yet the feeling of stiff, air-dried clothing against your skin can be a major deterrent! The solution? After hang-drying your clothes, use the air-fluff function available on most machines. This will add softness and reduce wrinkles without the energy.

I took these simple steps for a spin on my latest load and was thrilled with the results. After separating the fabrics by color and weight, as Loux recommends, I set the water level in my machine to the appropriate load size (in my case, medium), chose cold water, and dropped in only 2 tablespoons of a concentrated detergent.

In my chilly winter climate, I had to hang-dry my clothes on an indoor rack overnight. The next morning, I popped my jeans and other tougher materials in the dryer to air-fluff. The results? Fresh-smelling, comfortable clothing that kept their shape and color. Success!

Dana Courtney is a writer, yoga instructor and whole-foods educator in New York City, where she strives to help others create harmonious, connected lives.

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