In a worldwide study of laundry practices published in 2010, researchers found that the average American household washes 289 loads of laundry annually, using approximately 144 liters or 38 gallons of water per load, or almost 11,000 gallons a year (see References 1). The U.S. Energy Information Administration's 2001 Residential Energy Consumption Survey found clothes dryers accounted for about 6 percent of household energy consumption (see References 2). Energy-efficient washers and dryers use about half the amount of energy and 30 to 50 percent less water for every load of laundry (see References 3). Upgrading to a more efficient washer and dryer, however, means recycling your old machines.
Give away your washer and dryer if the appliances are still in good working condition. Put an ad in your local newspaper and on classified-ads sites online and ask family and friends. Print a flier and post it on bulletin boards at community centers and supermarkets.
Join Freecycle, a non-profit website centered on recycling, reusing and keeping goods out of landfills. Freecycle participants give away goods they no longer need or arrange trades with other members.
Donate to Goodwill or to other local charities. For ideas, visit the GE website for a list of charities that take used appliances, such as the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. Call the local chapter and ask for the address of a nearby collection center.
Curbside Pickup Service
Visit your city's or county's official website or call for information about municipal curbside pickup. Find out if pickup for white goods is free, or if you must pay a fee; call to schedule a pickup.
Find a retailer that offers pickup and recycling for your old appliances when you buy a new washer and dryer. Energy Star cautions asking to be sure your appliances will be recycle rather than resold an put back into use (see References 4).
Call a hauling service that deals with large appliances. To find one, use a recycling search site like Earth 911 or consult a phone book. Any online phone book will allow you to search for recycling, scrap metal and junk removal companies.
Visit the 1-800-Recycling website for a list of local recycling centers that accept appliances. Click on "Household," and then check the box on the right for "Large Household Appliances." Enter in your zip code and click "Set Location" to pull up the list. Click on the link for a company and it will bring up a map, directions, business hours and phone number.
Check your phone book under "Scrap Metal -- Process & Recycle" for a local scrap-metal recycling center. Most centers take large appliances for free, but some charge a nominal fee.
Find a solid waste processing facility, transfer station or other recycling center online at Earth911. Type "Large Appliances" in the field "Find Recycling Centers For" and enter your zip code into the "Near" field. Click "Search" to come up with the listings in your area.
- "Energy Efficiency"; Electricity and Water Consumption for Laundry Washing by Washing Machine Worldwide; Christiane Pakula and Rainer Stamminger; January 2010
- U.S. Energy Information Administration: End Use Consumption of Electricity 2001
- Energy Star: Clothes Washers
- Energy Star: Find a Clothes Washer Recycling Program
- Check the Energy Star website for cash rebates, special offers and other incentives to recycle your washer and dryer.
- Few recycling centers offer pick-up services, so if you don't have the means to haul your washer and dryer to a center, consider using a hauling company instead.
Sarena Fuller has been writing professionally since 2003. She has written for e-commerce sites, architectural firms, doctors and fashion companies. Her writing experience varies from technical writing to hair and beauty, alternative medicine and eco-friendly living. Fuller holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Arizona.