Water conservation: Cleaning up – Part 3

Consider changing your family’s water use practices as they relate to cleaning so you can save money and reduce your environmental impact.

This is the third in a series of articles about water conservation. Several areas have seen water rates rise dramatically in the past year. In some cases, this has led to water bills being higher than the rent. This series is designed to help homeowners conserve water in their home, save money and reduce the impact on the environment.

We use water in many places around our homes. Washing clothes, dishes, hands, floors and counters all present opportunities to reduce water usage.

Michigan State University Extension suggests these tips for reducing water usage:

  1. Only use a clothes washer or dishwasher when it is full.
  2. Check the setting on your clothes washer and dishwasher, making sure it is appropriate for the size and dirtiness of the load you are washing. Some settings use more water than others.
  3. Pre-treat your clothes so they don’t need to be washed twice.
  4. Scrape dishes off into the trash or compost before washing. Wash water won’t get as dirty that way. Use a brush or washcloth to clean dishes rather than letting the force of the water do it.
  5. Don’t let the faucet run while you wash or rinse the dishes. Stop up the sink and fill it with soapy water. Wash all your dishes, then rinse them.
  6. Take a shower instead of a bath (usually). Showers use 2-8 gallons a minute. Baths use a total of 30-45 gallons. You can put a five gallon bucket under your shower head, and time how long it takes to fill; that will determine the flow rate on your faucet. If you have a high-volume showerhead or take long showers, a bath might be a better choice.
  7. Use a low flow showerhead. Low flow showerheads can reduce the amount of water used by half.
  8. Use a shower with a shut-off valve. Get wet, turn off the shower while you are lathering up and then rinse off.
  9. Keep showers short. Time yourself in the shower and see if you can get clean more quickly. Some experts say that a 4-minute shower is adequate for getting clean.
  10. Use bath water for watering plants or pour-flushing the toilet. Just pour the water into the bowl of the toilet, and it will flush without pulling the handle.

By using these tips and others from the articles in this series, hopefully you can reduce your water usage. In the city of Flint, Mich., water bills are assessed in “units” of 748 gallons. If you go over 748 gallons by any amount, you have to pay for another “unit.” Contact your local utility to see how water rates are assessed in your area. By keeping your household water usage under control, you can save money and help the planet at the same time.

Related MSU Extension articles:

Other resources of information:


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