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Friday, Feb. 5, 2010 02:26 pm

Energy-saving tips and tricks: Day Five

I'm not going to lie, I'll probably spend a fair portion of my weekend doing laundry.

It may not be glamorous or exciting (as glamorous and exciting as this town gets when I saw a bartender wearing overalls last Friday night - step it up, Springfield!) but I have a pile of dirty clothes that have been lurking in my closet since a few weeks into this internship. It's gotten to the point where I have to fight with my closet doors before they'll shut under the blob of wool cardigans and pencil skirts. It's not pretty, but there you have it.

Soon, perhaps tonight, I'll be using the steps I'm about to list in Tip #5: go longer with your laundry.

Everyone has to do laundry. If you're fortunate enough to have your own washing machine and dryer, then I'm already jealous. I had that luxury at my college house, and even though the location made it kind of hard to get to, I miss it. (The only way to our laundry room was through someone else's bedroom - super awkward if you're like me and prefer doing laundry at night. Creeping around your roommates while they're sleeping/hooking up/possibly doing other unsavory things is not ideal.) It's actually better to do your laundry at non-peak hours (after 8 p.m.) anyway.

(Semi-related song with a cute video. Also one of my favorites ever.)

Laundry Tip #1: Don't over-dry your clothes!

Not only will it make things tighter (ever try to put on skinny jeans when they're fresh out of the dryer? not fun.), it can also cause color-fading, or even your clothes to shrink permanently. You know when you see a black shirt at the thrift store and it's all pilled-up and sad-looking? Someone washed that too many times. Don't do this to your clothes! (Unless you're the girl wearing overalls at the bar last weekend. Then, do this. Do this until your overalls shrink down to infant-sized. That's the only time they're acceptable.)

Over-drying can waste a ton of energy, and consequently cost you money! If you're operating a dryer at your house, find out exactly how long you'll need, so you can pull your clothes out without wasting time. If you're an apartment-dweller (like me), this is harder because some dryers don't let you start them again if you open the door halfway through the cycle. However, from my own personal experience, you don't need a full hour to dry your clothes. If you go with the recommended medium-sized load, they should be done in 40 mins or less.

Laundry Tip #2: Air dry any remaining damp items.

Cotton items like towels and underwear tend to dry pretty quickly. Take those out after like, 30 minutes, and finish the laundry with the remaining items. This will dry your other clothes quicker. If you've reached an hour of drying and stuff still isn't done (like at my apartment complex, ugh) you can just air-dry the rest of your clothes.

I'm not advocating that you dance with the Snuggle bear while hanging your delicates on an outdoor clothesline in a sun-drenched meadow smelling of daisies and fluff. I'm just saying it's not that hard to put your still-damp sweaters over a chair or table. In the morning, they'll be dry and you can wear them to work/school. It's not like you're going to put away your laundry right away anyway.

Also, I know my clothes will wrinkle the second I put them in the hamper for the trip back to my apartment. If they're a bit damp and you lay them flat for a few hours, they'll be wrinkle-free. Problem solved.

Laundry Tip #3: Don't overload the machine.

This seems like common sense, but I see people doing this all the time. I saw dudes in college stuffing every hoodie they owned, plus bedsheets, plus their skeezy boxers into one machine. Um ... no.

Overloading the machine means you'll spend more time washing and drying, thus you're wasting energy. Unnecessary. Some washers will tell you not to fill past a certain point, but the bottom line is: if you're struggling to stuff it all in (that's what she said?), there's a problem.

I separate my massive amount of dirty laundry into piles (work clothes, lounging-at-home stuff, going-out shirts) and then wash them according to need. If you do this, it cuts down on the urge to cram everything in all at once. Also, you can procrastinate more by only doing laundry when you run out of dress pants/underwear/t-shirts without a provocative slogan. (Not that I would know anything about that ... )

Happy laundering!

BONUS TIP: Maybe don't ever put your shoes in the dryer at 4 a.m. One of my roommates did this on a weeknight because she thought it would get rid of the dampness in her sneakers before a morning walk to class. It didn't help. It sounded like a heard of elephants having a rave outside my bedroom the night I had to work a nine-hour day. It was the worst. Don't do this!

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