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Living Space: What's your laundry style? Choosing a machine, other tips

Oct. 27, 2011 at 5:27 a.m.

A front-loading washer can develop mold and a bad smell because it doesn't empty dirty water as efficiently as a top-loading machine.

A front-loading washer can develop mold and a bad smell because it doesn't empty dirty water as efficiently as a top-loading machine.

By Kathryn Weber

Everyone has a dreaded household chore, and laundry often tops the list. While some love the Zen of sorting, folding and ironing, others see laundry as a task to finish as quickly as possible. Regardless of which laundry camp you fall in, one thing is certain: You can do a better job by matching your laundry habits to your washer/dryer and using a little organization.

Suit yourself

Laundry preferences typically fall in two basic categories. The continuum washer is the person who either has a large family or for whom laundry is a daily chore. This person will often do more smaller loads. If this is your style, a high-efficiency front-loading washer is the ideal choice because of its stingy use of water and energy. If your style is to wait until laundry accumulates into huge piles, a large-capacity washer is your best option. It's also a good choice if you frequently wash blankets and comforters. Select the washer with the largest tub available.

Washing decisions

When deciding whether a front- or top-loading washer is best for you, weigh the pros and cons. Now that both are available as Energy Star-rated appliances, both provide good water and energy savings, but front-load is the clear winner on conservation and a real space saver, too. But it's not without its drawbacks.

A front-loading washer can develop mold and a bad smell because it doesn't empty dirty water as efficiently as a top-loading machine. Front-loaders can be more expensive than top-loading machines and make laundry a back-breaking chore with all the bending over to pull laundry in and out. Top-loading washers have come a long way in both water and energy savings, and with small-load settings offer more efficiency than older models. However, they're harder on clothes than front loaders and don't look nearly as cool in the laundry room.

Organized wash

To make doing the laundry easier, start by organizing your laundry room. Put dryer sheets, clothes pins and washing bags for delicates in wall-mounted baskets. This will put these items within easy reach and clear countertop clutter. Add a small shelf close to the washer for detergent, stain sprays, bleach and softeners. Create a spot for hanging clothes or install a folding, wall-mounted drying rack. Ikea's Pressa, a small hanging octopus-like clothes dryer with multiple clothes pins, is ideal for small, delicate items like bras, and it collapses for easy storage when not in use.

Laundry smart

For energy and water savings, try to do full loads. When you're finished, leave the lid or door of the washer open to prevent mold from growing. And don't overlook the dryer. Clean the dryer vent monthly to stop dangerous lint buildup that can be a fire hazard. And that warning about invisible dryer sheet buildup on your lint screen? It's a myth, according to Consumer Reports, which says it's unlikely to start a fire, but that routine cleaning won't hurt.

Consumer Reports Myth Source: consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/laundry-and-cleaning/clothes-dryers/truths-and-myths-of-dryer-fires/overview/index.htm

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui E-zine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, redlotusletter.com.

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