The Health and Environmental Hazards of Doing Laundry
April 12, 2021
Did you know that something as mundane as doing laundry can have a huge environmental impact? In fact, washing and drying a 11-lbs load of laundry every two days produces over 970-lbs of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Additionally, garment washing can contaminate water systems, trigger health risks, and cause excessive energy waste.
As a trusted provider of green laundry pickup and delivery services, we explore how certain laundry practices can have negative effects on your health and the environment. We also offer tips on how you can make your washing routine more eco-friendly.
Dry cleaning machines
The type of washing machine you use affects the amount of energy consumed per load.
Unlike traditional vented washer-dryer combos, self-contained dry cleaning machines are ventless and therefore, more energy-efficient. Instead of warming up cold air first, ventless dryers simply use warm air for drying. As a result, less energy is consumed.
Furthermore, steam circulating in conventional vented models are simply pumped out and wasted. This means toxic PCE fumes may be released into the atmosphere after every cycle. PCE is a known solvent used to eliminate dirt and stains on clothes. High-level inhalation exposure to PCE can cause respiratory problems and neurological effects.
Thanks to their closed-loop system, self-contained dryers, on the other hand, can collect and filter PCE either for reuse or safer disposal.
Commercial laundry detergents often feature harmful ingredients. While these substances may not directly damage your clothes, they may cause adverse health risks once inhaled or come into contact with your skin.
One of the most harmful contaminants found in laundry detergent is 1,4-Dioxane which is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a likely carcinogen to humans. Short-term exposure to 1,4-Dioxane may irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, while long-term exposure may trigger kidney and liver damage. In addition, 1,4-Dioxane is resistant to biodegradation and can be toxic to marine life.
Another example of an extremely harmful ingredient are optical brighteners which are synthetic chemicals that emit blue light to make clothing appear whiter and brighter. Optical brighteners merely conceal stains by improving the whiteness of the fabric, and do not actually help in the cleaning process. These additives remain in clothes long after washing, which may cause skin allergies.
Other dangerous ingredients detergents include phosphates, formaldehyde, synthetic fragrances, and surfactants. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to respiratory problems, skin irritation, and even cancer. Since laundry care manufacturers are not required to enumerate all the ingredients in their products, most of them are not even included on the label.
Fortunately, there are several detergents available now that feature plant-based substances and chemical compounds indicated in the EPA’s Safer Chemicals Ingredients. Choose detergents that carry the Safer Choice label which guarantees that the product is eco-friendly and meets the highest quality standards.
Always check the ingredients on the product label and ensure your laundry shop only uses products with the Safer Choice seal.
Eco-friendly laundry services you can trust
Minimize the impact of your laundry by choosing laundry service providers that care about your health and the environment. At Starcrest Cleaners, we use eco-friendly products and machines and observe green practices wherever we can.
Contact us today for safe and quality laundry services.