Blake Shirley ‘Laundry Day’ The Marmite Prize for Painting IV

Environmental assessment of domestic laundering >

Research Themes
Health & Wellbeing

Research Staff
Rosalie Menon
Colin Porteous

Partner Organisations
Centre for Research on Indoor Climate and Health at Glasgow Caledonian University
Energy Systems Research Unit at the University of Strathclyde

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Drying laundry indoors at home can have a negative impact on health, air quality and fuel consumption. This three-year research project assessed domestic laundry practices and analysed air quality and energy consumption. Its findings recommend changes to Scottish statuary standards and best practice in building design that will make substantial improvements to inhabitants’ health and bring economic and environmental benefits. 

The average load of washing releases around 2 litres of moisture into the air during the drying process, creating the conditions in which mould spores grow and dust mites thrive. It also leads to increased use of energy, especially when radiators are turned up to help the drying process. Whilst opening a window can help address the moisture problem, it also leads to increased energy usage, exacerbating fuel poverty. The lack of dedicated spaces for the safe and energy efficient drying of laundry is a common problem in all types of and ages of housing.

The products of this body of research aim to change the norms for housing design and construction in order to improve air quality and reduce energy consumption. In 2012 the project produced a Design Guide: Healthy Low Energy Home Laundering. This guide recommends changes to the current Scottish statutory standards for passive indoor drying, as well as related best practice. A key proposal is to ensure that a drying space is isolated from the rest of the house with its own heat and ventilation. The project’s findings were presented to the Scottish Government’s Building Standards Division and at seminars aimed at audiences (such as housing association managers) that can instigate meaningful change. Public engagement through media coverage has raised awareness of the impacts on health and energy consumption in order to change laundry practices in the home.

The project was led by the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU), in partnership with the Centre for Research on Indoor Climate and Health at Glasgow Caledonian University and the Energy Systems Research Unit at the University of Strathclyde. It was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Research papers on RADAR

Domestic laundering – environmental audit in Glasgow with emphasis on passive indoor drying and air quality - project team (2013) 

Energy and environmental appraisal of domestic laundering appliances - project team (2012)

Displacing Electrical Energy for Drying Domestic Laundry by Practical Solar Upgrades - Proposed Glasgow Housing Case Studies - Rosalie Menon and Colin Porteous (2010)

The economic and environmental impact of communal laundry spaces in high density housing in the UK - Musa Haruna, Rosalie Menon and Colin Porteous (2010)