How to save water in the laundry – water-efficient washing machines and more

July 14th, 2014

Appliance Talk Environment, Energy & Water Saving Laundry Washers & Dryers

To put a not-so-original spin on a popular TV show’s tagline – Summer Is Coming.  Here in Australia, that change in seasons can leave water in short supply, making it essential that every drop counts.


According to the savewater!® Alliance, 15-20% of all water consumed in the home is used in the laundry.

So if you’d like to keep your home’s water usage under control this summer, for the sake of both the environment and your utility bills, check out the following tips for using less water in the laundry:

Opt for a front loader

When it comes to water efficiency, front loading washing machines are typically just better.

A front loader can give your clothes a thorough wash using only a fraction of the water used in a top loader, thanks to the gentle tumbling action provided by good old gravity.  According to Western Australia’s Water Corporation, front loaders use around 3000 litres less water than top loaders over the course of one year.

Check out the 7.5kg Front Load Fisher & Paykel Washing Machine WH7560P1

Sorry top loaders – your classic design may be simple and effective, but there’s no denying that you can be real water hogs.

The best reason (from a water-saving point of view) to keep using a top loader is the Suds Saver wash option found in some older models, which allows you to wash multiple loads back to back by recycling the water in the bowl. Unfortunately, this feature has not been included in many new top loader designs, meaning a front-loader is still the most water-efficient choice in most cases.

The 8kg Top Load Fisher & Paykel Washing Machine WL80T65CW2 is a high-efficiency top-loader choice.

However, there are High Efficiency top loaders available that use less water than conventional designs, though they do require special low-sudsing detergent to function properly (in some cases, regular front-loader detergent will work just fine).

Check the WELS star rating

We’ve all seen the Energy Star rating stickers in appliance showrooms and on Appliances Online product pages, indicating which appliance models use their electricity the most efficiently.

The WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards) water rating scheme works in pretty much the same way – the more blue stars on an appliance, the more efficiently it uses water.

Dishwasher water rating

According to Western Australia’s Water Corporation, a 4-star WELS rated washing machine uses up to 41% less water than a conventional washing machine.

To find a washing machine of a particular WELS star rating, you can use the sliders on Appliances Online’s search pages to narrow down your search:

appliances online water rating search

You can also check and confirm the WELS ratings of any washing machine model on the WELS website.

Think before you wash

Remember that Simpsons episode with the line “Flanders! My socks feel dirty! Gimme some water to wash’em!”?

homer simpson water wash socks

Remember how dumb and wasteful that was?

The same principle applies in your laundry.  If you’ve only got a couple of items to wash, you really don’t need to run a complete wash cycle – you’ll use far more water than you need.

Try to only wash full loads of laundry at a time, so that you get the most clean clothes out of the water you use.

If you only have a few items to clean, check if your washing machine has a half-load or similar washing setting that can get your garments clean without using excess suds.

An Eco cycle can also adjust your washing machine’s settings to help make every drop of water count.

5.5kg Front Load Simpson Washing Machine SWF855625.5kg Front Load Simpson Washing Machine SWF85562 with Auto Water Lavel Sensing

The best option, which is only available with selected washing machine models, is to use an automatic or sensor wash cycle that detects the size and content of your laundry load and automatically adjusts your water level to compensate.

Check for leaks

Are your water bills steadily growing, even when you’re making an effort to reduce your water consumption? It’s possible that one or more of your appliances is using (or rather, losing) water even when not operating, through leaks and drips.

Washing machine maintenance

Time for a bit of simple laundry maintenance.  Give your laundry appliances a bit of a look-over for leaks and drips, paying special attention to the hose connections and similar vulnerable spots.  Be sure to check the floor around and underneath the appliances, too – if you find puddles, you’ve found problems.

If you find drips and can’t patch them up yourself, call in a professional and/or the manufacturer before your home’s running costs completely blow out.  If you bought your washing machine from Appliances Online, get in touch with us and we’ll help you to work out your best options.

Consider tank water

“Tank water” is not a reference to 1995’s not-great-but-very-cult Tank Girl movie, even if it is set in a post-apocalyptic Australia with a water-centric plot.

tank girl water malcolm mcdowellIt also features Malcolm McDowell hamming it up as only he can.

While it’s not always a practical option, depending on your area, using a rainwater tank to supply water to your washing machine can make a big difference to your home’s water usage.

Tank water can also be used for gardening, flushing toilets and bathing… in fact, pretty much anything except drinking, due to the risk of microbiological contamination.

W-Rainwater-Harvesting-01_fmtSource: YourHome

Check with your local water department, local council, and tank manufacturer for more advice on the safe use of tank water.

Collect grey water

What is grey water?  Essentially, it’s water that’s already been used once, but is still clean enough that it could be used again.  This includes old bath and shower water, as well as washing machine water.

Foam and water going down through the plughole

Collecting grey water from your washing machine won’t directly affect the your laundry’s water efficiency, but it can have a positive effect on your home’s overall water consumption. For example, rather than spraying your garden or flushing your toilet with perfectly potable drinking water, grey water that’s already rinsed your clothes can do the job just as well.

The simplest way to collect grey water from your washing machine is to use a bucket at the  machine’s drain.  However, the chemicals found in some detergents can be bad for plants and soil, so if you’re using grey water for gardening, you may wish to stick to all-natural detergents or collect only the machine’s rinse water.

greywaterSource: QLD Dept of Energy And Water Supply

Alternatively, contact your plumber, water department and/or local council and ask about getting a grey water treatment system installed in your home, to collect, clean and filter your recycled water so it can be safely used for gardening and more.

Got more water-saving tips?

Be sure to share them in the comments, so we can all be prepared to use water wisely when summer rolls around.

And if you’ve any questions about a water-efficient appliance for the laundry or anywhere else in the home, contact the expert Appliances Online team on 1300 000 500 – we’re available 24/7!

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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