Laundry is responsible for a lot of your energy use — and chemical exposure, too. The products you put in your washer and dryer are loaded with petroleum-based chemicals, perfumes and optical brighteners.

Fortunately, a lot of these can be replaced with inexpensive natural products. Try a quarter cup of baking soda in the wash cycle to soften clothes and absorb odors. A quarter cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle will strip soap residue from both your clothes and the washing machine. And a little lemon juice in the rinse is great for brightening whites.

So head to the kitchen before you fire up that washing machine. You'll save money while kicking chemicals to the curb.

Copyright Lighter Footstep 2009