L73: Laundry

This last Christmas Eve I spent the evening with my son. We went to the laundry together. We each had four or five loads because we decided to end the year with clean bedding, towels and all of our clothing fresh and organized. We had a good time strolling down memory lane. I reminded him how he was in charge of doing all of the laundry when he was a senior in high school and we lived in South Philadelphia. He hadn’t remembered that I insisted he do all the laundry all the time because his was the lion’s share of the loads.

My observation was that my kid used a towel and threw it in the laundry, wore a pair of jeans and threw it in the wash pile. My strategy was to make him responsible for it all. Now that doesn’t sound too onerous unless I mention that this was in Philadelphia where we had to schlep our laundry up and down stairs and walk blocks to the Laundromat. The thing is, it hadn’t really changed his heavy laundry loads.

And this is the first thing I want to say about laundry. I think Americans wash clothes more often than necessary. Clothes can be worn more than once unless one’s day is in a physically demanding, filthy place.

Next I want to jump in with the 2008 program I have been following. As I said in past post, air drying and appliances, I air dry my clothes and use the community coin washing machines at $1.25 a load. In that post I also said I’d like the Wonder Wash and I still do. The thing is I decided to buy a solar oven today (another post for another day). I was arguing with myself this afternoon because the cost right now is killing me. It is only $54 with shipping. That will pay for itself before the year is out. That helped me decide to go for it.

Lastly, the major change this year is with the cleaning products. I wrote about getting rid of household cleaners and replacing them with natural products like vinegar, soda, salt, etc. Well, I have also quit with the petrochemical detergent and gone with Soap Nuts.

I use Maggie’s Soap Nuts as these were recommended to me by a neighbor and I can get it from a store within walking distance. According to the website text:
Maggie’s Soap Nuts™ are the only laundry soap that grows on trees!
Truly effective, 100% natural and safe for your most sensitive skin.
Soap NutsTM are the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree.
They contain saponin, a natural cleaner used for thousands of
years to clean clothes, just like the plants used by Native Americans
for washing.

Simply put a few Soap Nuts into the included cotton sack and drop
it in your laundry. Your clothes come out clean, vibrant, and soft.
Replace your laboratory detergents and softeners with the soap
made from Nature by Nature. Your clothes, your skin, your family,

and your planet will thank you.

I couldn’t be happier with this product. It really is pleasant smelling. A part of me questions how this really works as the soap nuts bag stays in the machine during the rinse because the commercial front loader doesn’t allow me to open the door during the whole process.

When I get my Wonder Wash I will be able to remove the little bags prior to rinse.

Another justification besides cost will be no electricity, saving water and the soap’s better efficiency. I will confess to one more advantage. I will be able to launder my toilet wipes at home rather than dragging them to the community laundry. Ha! I am seldom this discreet, but it happens.

Kidding aside, these two consumer goods purchases represent major lifestyle changes towards sustainability. I realize that I am ready to take this on as a life change, not just a sustainability experiment. Yet, I am full cognizant that there will be those who read this and decide it is just off the charts impractical (for him or her). That's cool. For myself there is a growing impatience with half measures. The longer I pursue living simply the more attractive it becomes. It also gets more efficient as I practice. I wonder if it is even coincidental that chile, green bean and others are writing similar words? Somehow it is all connected.

laundromats by Patrick Q at flickr


Jurgo said...

That's an excellent point about how unnecessarily often we wash our clothes. In fact, that thought has often rattled around my head but on this laundry day of all laundry days, I'm taking action on it! I went through my "dirty" laundry and am only washing the clothes that are for-real dirty.

Can't get out of doing a load because I'm for-real out of clean socks. But not washing the not-dirty T-shirts and stuff left room in the machine for my sheets, which would have been a second load.

And I'm going to air dry that business. I always talk about it, but then I put off doing laundry until omg I need clean undies by 4 or I can't go to work. Not sure how much energy I'm saving or CO2 I'm preventing being belched out, but I'll like not putting that extra $1.25 in the machine.

katecontinued said...

Jurgo, don't know if any of us hear this enough . . . every tiny little step we take helps. If nothing more it starts the process of thinking differently about air, water, energy, CO2 and our connection to it all.

Good for you. Once you have made saving a few loads, air drying a few loads - I will bet you will be surprised you didn't think of it sooner. (Besides that damn $1.25 we shell out for so long.)

Chile said...

I haven't been able to find the soap nuts locally and have too much laundry soap left to justify ordering them yet. Let's see, someone recently wrote about reusing these...ah, here we go. And more here.

katecontinued said...

Wow, chile, you are really a remarkable resource. Thank you very much for those links. I will definately try that boiling method. And when I get my new WonderWash, it is nice to know I will save water by not needing the rinse. Great comment.