Parents do a TON of laundry. Besides professional mud wrestlers and the people who clean up elephant crap at the circus, I’m willing to bet parents do more laundry than anyone else on earth. When ENERGY STAR asked me to partner with them to promote new certified energy saving dryers, I realized how much energy we as a community could actually save the planet.

Last week, I asked my fans on facebook what age their kids were and what contributed most to their abundance of laundry. Then I broke down all the responses to explain the stages of parenthood, from newborns to college kids, one load of laundry at a time, to show just how big an impact parents using ENERGY STAR certified dryers could make.


The Newborn Stage:

Laundry in this phase is due mostly to your tiny pooping spit-up machine that dirties onesies on the regular. Not only is cleaning dirty clothes a prerogative, you are in that germ-free bubble of hand sanitizer and organic bathroom cleaner where perfectly pristine baby clothes must be washed before they even have the honor of being placed on your newborn’s body. Who knows where that crisp white tiny undershirt just ripped from the package has BEEN?! Also, you’ve got regular visitors who need to see the baby in his/her finest attire, a myriad of naps that require pajamas and at least three blowouts a day, so your baby is making more wardrobe changes than Beyonce on a concert tour. Does your newborn have acid reflux? That can double your dirty laundry with regular spit-up stains, not just on your newborn but yourself. Speaking of yourself, don’t you love those yellow milk stains on your nursing bras? And you’ve only got two comfortable nursing bras in rotation so they must be washed over and over and over again until they practically disintegrate. Have we talked about crib sheets and bath towels and burp clothes? You are probably using one burp cloth every ten minutes— thank god they come in packs of ten! You cycle through 20 a day and need every one of them clean and on hand for tomorrow. Do you use cloth diapers? Oh, you poor dear. Let’s double your laundry again.

The 6-12 Month Phase:

Your baby is still pooping and spitting up but now we’re going to add a plethora of drool to the mix. DAMN TEETHING! Yes, that’s right— your baby drools on you, your spouse, your other kids, himself. He is one big saliva fountain with no on/off switch. You are still washing the burp rags and the nursing bras once a day, but you can also add your back-to-work wardrobe to the load. That’s two outfits a day since your baby always spits up all over your first outfit right before you walk out the door, causing you to go back to your room and change. You’ve also got the pumping bra to deal with. You know the strapless monstrosity that zips up the front and is starting to turn a vile lemon yellow around the nipples? Your little whippersnapper has also moved onto solid foods meaning some of that spit-up might resemble actual vomit. Have you dealt with projectile vomit yet? YOU WILL. Self-feeding leads to even more issues as a plethora of once adorable bibs pile up in your hamper. And what are the bibs really for anyway? Especially when cereal and yogurt (SO MUCH YOGURT!) can find its way through the collar and the sleeves. Oh, and the crawling! You got any stain stick for those knees? Let’s throw those leggings in the wash ONE MORE TIME to see if the grass stain FINALLY comes out.

The Toddler Phase:

Did I mention all the @#$$@$* yogurt?! SO MUCH YOGURT. Although now your toddler hates those bibs and rips them right off leaving his clothing completely exposed. You know what else your toddler loves? Spaghetti. Covered in tomato sauce. NO OUTFIT IS SAFE! Your toddler is also mobile, so who knows what mess they will stumble upon— from a bottle of syrup to a tube of lipstick. Have we talked about the great outdoors yet? Your child is running out in the world on dirty sidewalks and even dirtier playgrounds. We call our local playground sandbox “The Filthiest Place on Earth”. And that blankie he has become so attached to? The one you swore would never leave the crib but now here he is dragging it outside on the ground everywhere he goes? That rag must be washed daily. There’s also boogers. Wet ones, dry ones, white ones, green ones, all making their home on the shoulder of your favorite shirt. And someone, for the love of god— EXPLAIN TO MY CHILD THAT HIS SLEEVE IS NOT A NAPKIN!!!

The Preschooler Phase:

This is a lovely time when you finally expose your child to all the germs that exist in the classroom. You’ve had a stomach bug sweep through your house at least five times since the beginning of the school year and the laundry to prove it. Your child is becoming more independent, which is great, except for her insistence on breaking up with her sippy cup. Yep, she holds a regular cup now, but VERY POORLY. Spills, spills, everywhere. And who knew apples made such a mess? Did I mention she hates when things get on her clothes? Even a small drop of ketchup results in a titanic-sized tantrum until the whole outfit is changed. With preschool comes craft time and finger painting and glue stick and pretty much anything that claims to be “washable”. Are you potty training? Probably. That means wet sheets and multiple underwear changes throughout the day. Except if your child prefers that one pair of Frozen undies and refuses to wear anything else. And your whole potty training success depends on having them clean and ready to go every morning. I don’t envy you, Frozen Panties Mom.

The Big Kid Phase:

This phase starts in kindergarten and ends at around 13. This is the phase where kids really learn to care about their clothes, but also destroy everything they wear, posing quite the laundry challenge. Maybe you have a child who likes to change multiple times before school or only wants to wear one of two pink dresses every day or likes to change into their summer clothes as soon as she gets home, even though it’s -20 degrees. There’s also the kids that try five things on, pick one and put the rest of the clothes in the hamper as if the act of being on their body for .5 seconds renders that clothing dirty. Your kid is still wetting the bed occasionally and wiping her nose with her sleeve, but now she’s also jumping in puddles and sliding feet first in the mud. School comes with more paint, markers, glue, play-doh, and unidentifiable substances. Also, GLITTER. Lots and lots of glitter. And how come kids get so much pen on their clothing? What is up with that? Cleaning a plethora of uniforms is no fun either. Have I mentioned sports? So many sports. Played on dirt. Sometimes in the rain. Meaning MUD. Also, CAMP. Nothing makes a kid filthier than camp.

The Teenager Phase:

A lot of the behavior from the kid phase continues but now in a more advanced fashion, ensuring even more laundry than ever before. For instance, certain divas like to change their clothes 564,145 times a day. And clever teenagers like to avoid folding and putting their clean clothes away but just dumping them back into the dirty hamper. I bet you had fun discovering that one! After-school activities and sports are at an all time high, with practices every day of the week and clothes smellier than you ever imagined. WOW, do teenage boys smell. Also, if you’ve got a swimmer, I hear the towel situation is out of control. Although non-swimming teens like towels too. Teenage girls, for instance, like to use a towel for their hair, a towel for their body and then throw the towels on the bathroom floor instead of hanging them up to dry so they need new towels with every shower. WHY CAN’T TEENAGERS LEARN TO HANG UP A TOWEL??? And there are SO MANY SHOWERS. There are also snacks that used to be off-limits, like Cheetos and Doritos with their lovely orange residue that gets wiped across shirt fronts on the daily. And make-up experimentation with lipsticks left unknowingly in the pocket of a favorite pair of jeans. Do we need to talk about the various socks and wash clothes left suspiciously close to the bed? No. No, we do not. Also if you never put your clean clothes away, they get instantly dirty when the dog makes his bed on them on the floor.

The College kid Phase:

I have little to say about this phase except if kids today are anything like I was back in college, they are saving all their dirty clothes for vacations back home so you will have the pleasure of doing a semester worth of laundry all at once. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Well, there you have it. Can you imagine how much energy parents waste each year doing an insane amount of laundry?

Washing machines have actually seen a 70% drop in energy use since 1990 when companies started to create more efficient machines, but dryers have remained largely inefficient, until now.

For the first time ever, ENERGY STAR certified clothes dryers are widely available nationwide, for the same cost as a standard dryer, making it an easy choice to save energy, save money and help protect the climate. If you are one of the five million Americans who’s looking to purchase a new dryer this year, this is a great opportunity for savings.

Consider this:

If all clothes dryers sold in the US were ENERGY STAR certified, Americans could save $1.5 billion each year in energy costs and prevent 21 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equal to those of more than 2 million vehicles, every year.

Now that’s a lot of savings PLUS you can probably feel pretty good knowing your new dryer is way better for the planet your kids will one day inherit, right?

I have an idea. Tell me how many loads of laundry you do a week in the comments and I’ll add up all the responses, send the figure to ENERGY STAR and have them estimate how much just the Mommy Shorts readers could save in a year.

So. How many loads of laundry do you do a week?

Update: ENERGY STAR calculated how much money Mommy Shorts readers would save collectively if they all replaced their dryers with the new ENERGY STAR certified dryers and it came out to over $130 million dollars. Energy-wise we’d save more than 2 billion pounds of CO2. Yikes!!!


This post was sponsored by ENERGY STAR, but all thoughts, opinions and loads of laundry are my own.