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Picture: Dishwasher 

Washing your clothes is a necessary evil, which is usually taken care of by the way. However, it can be worthwhile to reconsider the everyday routine: The many small steps involved in washing have great savings potential. Be it the dosage of the detergent, the setting of the temperature or the handle on the supermarket shelf.

Reduce power consumption during washing

A cost in washing is electricity. It is consumed, for example, to bring the wash water to the correct temperature or to turn the laundry drum. “Heating the wash water requires the most energy, and the wash cycle itself is relatively low,” says Bernd Glassl, head of the laundry detergents unit at the Industrial Association for Personal Care and Detergent (IKW) in Frankfurt. Who washes his laundry at lower temperatures, but longer, can thus save energy and thus money.

Lower wash temperature

In this sense, advises the consumer center Hamburg to the “one-click-down principle”: One sets the wash temperature one level lower. “You can easily wash 60-degree laundry at 40 or even 30 degrees,” says Dirk Petersen, environmental expert at the Verbraucherzentrale Hamburg. That reduces the power consumption by almost half. If you switch back from 40 to 30 degrees, you save a good third on energy. Newer washing machines even have a 20 degree button for lightly soiled laundry.

The wash result of normal soiled laundry can be improved at low temperature by a longer washing time, for example via an intensive or stain button. If really stubborn stains like tomato sauce stains, coffee stains or grease splash on the clothes, this button is not enough. “Stains should be removed as soon as possible,” Petersen advises. They should be washed by hand in cold water and with soap. A proven and effective stain remover is gall soap. The stain can also be pretreated with a heavy-duty detergent or enzyme-containing detergents, insensitive laundry is soaked in it.

Despite everything, however, 60-degree laundry has to be done from time to time, otherwise bacteria will settle in the washing machine, Glassl explains. “We recommend it at least once every 14 days or every fifth wash.” For hygiene, this temperature is sufficient, bleach-containing heavy duty detergent helped remove the bacteria. At higher temperatures, however, households with a person suffering from a contagious, notifiable disease should wash, says environmental expert Petersen.

Fully loaded washing machine

The washing machine should always be optimally filled. In the instructions are kilograms – how high the laundry may be maximum, but is difficult to estimate. Ruth Obermann of the network household in Erlangen reveals: “An old Hausfrauentrick is to put itself once with filled and once with unfilled laundry basket on the balance.” For sensitive laundry, this information must be adhered to, with insensitive laundry, according to Obermann, the washing machine can also easily be filled up with a hand-width of space. “Modern washing machines can also weigh the weight of the laundry itself,” says Obermann.

Save on detergent purchase

Savings can also be made when buying detergents: according to the experts, a household only needs three products. A color detergent for colored laundry, a mild detergent for wool and silk and a heavy duty detergent with optical brighteners and bleaches. This makes them suitable for light laundry. The bleaches actually develop their full effect at 60 degrees – “thanks to so-called bleach activators, they also work very well even at 40 degrees,” says Glassl’s washing tip.

Everything that goes beyond these three detergents is superfluous in principle – as well as softener, says Petersen. This is especially true if you can dry the laundry in the fresh air. In most cases, it is also possible to dispense with a softener, since the water level in many villages is not too high. However: If water softener is used, you can save on the detergent, because then you need only as little detergent as in soft water.

The right dosage

The dosage depends on the degree of contamination in addition to the water hardness – and this is often overestimated, says Obermann. Because heavily soiled and thus wash-intensive laundry is rare. This includes, for example, laundry that gets dirty in crafts, at construction sites or in car repair shops, or when children play outside. Only this must be in the pre-wash. The everyday clothes of most adults are usually not so dirty: “A blouse, which I have worn a day in the office, is certainly only slightly dirty,” says Obermann.

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