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Technologies - Laundry Facilities

Washing laundry is very water intensive, using approximately 25% of a household’s indoor water use. Conventional top-loading washing machines use 39 to 43 gallons of water per load. High efficiency models such as front-loading washers can greatly reduce water use. Small machines (those under 4.0 cubic feet) that use less than 6.5 gallons of water per cubic foot can reduce water use by up to 50%. For additional information see: Clothes Washers: Water and Energy-Saving Tips and Technologies Acrobat Icon PDFs (73 KB)

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Or, Visit the EPA Water SenseOffSite Icon and Energy StarOffSite Icon websites to find water-efficient clothes washers

Front–loading Clothes Washers

Domestic Laundry, Photo: Energy StarFront-loading washers, also known as horizontal axis (H-axis) washers,are the most efficient washers available, using less than half the water of older, top-loading models. Front-loading washers tumble clothes through a small amount of water instead of using a central agitator in a full tub of water. Because they are only partially filled, they use less water and less energy for heating water. They also use faster spin speeds to extract more water from clothes, thereby reducing dryer time and energy use. The estimated savings per household is approximately 7,000 gallons a year.  

Advanced Top-loading Clothes Washers

Domestic Laundry, PhotoAdvanced top-loading washers use sophisticated wash systems to flip or spin clothes through a reduced stream of water. Many have sensors to monitor incoming water temperature closely. They also rinse clothes with repeated high-pressure spraying instead of soaking them in a full tub of water. These water-saving, top-loading washing machines use an average of 25 gallons per wash compared to the average of 40 gallons per wash for conventional top-loading machines.


Commercial laundry equipment can be found in hotels, motels, resorts, hospitals and other facilities for washing linens, uniforms, and other items. Prior to regulations enacted in 2005, commercial laundromats often used residential style, top-loading washing machines that were not bolted to the ground. Laundromats are now switching to horizontal-axis and multi-capacity load washing machines that are secured to the ground.

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For additional information see: Commercial Laundry: Tips and Technologies to Conserve Water and Energy Acrobat Icon PDFs (83KB) and Energy Star Commercial Clothes WashersOffSite Icon

Washer- Extractor

The most common institutional-sized washing machine is the washer-extractor, which can handle 25 to 400 dry pounds per load. A rotating drum agitates the laundry during washing and rinsing cycles, and spins at high speeds to extract the water. The machines refill with water for each new cycle. There is no internal recycling; all water used is discharged to the sewer. Typical water consumption for washer-extractors is 2.5 to 3.5 gallons per pound of dry laundry.

Continuous Batch Clothes Washers- “Tunnel” Washers Commercial Laundry, PhotoThe continuous-batch washer or “tunnel” washer, commonly used in Europe, has recently been installed in many U.S. laundries. In contrast to conventional washers which refill with water for each cycle, continuous batch washers reuse rinse water from all but the first rinse. The washers have one or more modules for each process step, and the laundry items pass automatically from one module to the next. Significant water conservation is achieved due to the use of counter-current flows. Properly operated installations can save 60-70 percent of the volume of water and steam required by washer extractors.
Laundry Water Reclamation Systems Laundry wastewater reclamation systems recycle wash water. They capture, filter, and treat the water so it can be reused in the next load. A simple recycle system (one that does not treat the reclaimed water) collects discharge from the final rinse of one load and uses it in the first flush of the next load, saving about 10-35%. A complex recycling system (one that treats the reclaimed water and uses it in all cycles) can save up to 90%. Recycling systems can be cost-effective due to savings in water, soap, energy for heating, and sewer fees. Two types of complex systems are 1) mixed media and 2) ultra filtration. The mixed media system consists of a filter containing plastic beads, anthracite coal and silica; an activated carbon column; and an ion exchange unit. It first filters out large particles such as lint, then smaller ones such as dirt. After the ion exchange unit removes organic material, the water is sent back to the wash cycle. This system relatively low maintenance is available as a packaged unit. It provides approximately 75 percent reuse of water. The second system uses settling, high-rate ultra-filtration, and fixed bed carbon adsorption processes that sends the used water through the carbon bed. Pretreatment with hydrated lime in dry powder form is used to assist the ultra-filtration treatment.


Tax Credits

Multi-family housing complexes that have laundry rooms have been found to use less than1/3 the Laundry Wise, Logo water when compared to in-unit washers. Tax credits may be available for  multi-housing complexes and laundromats that replace older washers with new, low-water-use models. Find more information in this LaundryWise Report.