TL;DR Use cold wash and hang dry your workout clothes anything containing polyester / lycra / spandex / etc.
Do you read the care instructions on your clothes?
Washers and dryers have 'handwash' and 'delicate' settings which have essentially rendered care instructions useless. The only 'rule' people somewhat abide by is separating colors and whites, which I've never even had a problem with.
Here's what I do have a problem with: Clothes shrinking and being ruined.
- If it's from Lululemon or the like, don't dry it! Fast-drying workout gear is made from polyesters and plastic-based materials. Plastic melts when you heat them. Buy a drying rack on Amazon and your clothes will last YEARS longer as well as retain their shape.
- Wash in cold water. Most of the time your clothes aren't truly covered in dirt and bacteria, so you don't need a hot wash. You're just wasting electricity and causing your colorful cottons to look washed out. Cold washes keep the color in.
- Don't wash your jeans. Once they smell bad, you can put them in a bag in the freezer which will kill bacteria and remove smell. Wash jeans ~once per month unless you're going on runs in them.
- All of the clothing that you hang dry will last longer. Brands are coming up with new mixes of materials to make better clothing, but the care instructions aren't well-communicated. Read the label.
I believe cold washes and less drying will save the world. Let me look up some numbers and work out the math.
Let's assume you do laundry twice per week. If you're washing 30 items of clothing, and now you pull out 6 items to hang dry, that is 20% less energy needed to dry. A typical dryer will use around 3000 watts. This equates to saving ~62,000 watts / year.
A typical washer uses around 500 watts and 75% of the energy required to do a load of laundry goes into heating the water. This is ~40,000 watts / year saved by using cold water.
The USA's annual average electrical energy per capita is ~12,000 kW. By saving ~102 kW, you are reducing your electrical usage by 8.5%.
And your clothes last longer, so you're buying less. Sounds responsible and eco-friendly to me.
Other ways to be responsible? Support US manufacturing and made in USA goods. Like trying these flamingo suspenders.