Monday, July 27, 2009

Much Ado about Laundry

It's something we have to do - day in and day out the laundry just keeps on coming. And yes, no sooner do you finish the load, than someone puts something back in the basket. With all this laundry, just how do we do it so that we can save energy and even save some money?

First I suggest a cold wash cycle. I do pretty much everything on cold, except for diapers. Oh, and the odd time I don't get the towels done quickly and they sit damp - they get a warm wash. I try to make up for the hot wash for diapers by hanging them to dry. When they are done, I tumble them on air with some dryer balls to soften them up. I just can't bring myself to put stiff diapers on my baby's butt, lol.

It's summertime - and that means great opportunities to hang things to dry. I have a small laundry line - an umbrella style with three sides. (I covet one with four sides!) and I also have a portable drying rack that I can use. In my laundry room there is a pole over the washer/dryer that I can use to hang things on, too. I've been hanging about 80 % of the laundry these days. If you can't hang a line, there is always over the shower curtain rod or a small portable rack. In fact they even make ones that pull out from the wall now, and push back flat against it when you are done.

And then there is the detergent you use. I personally prefer Seventh Generation. I also use Nature Clean and have found both to be great - no itchies! We used Purex and I had to give it away as it made me itchy. I have Nellies dryer balls in the dryer and I never use dryer sheets or fabric softener. Both my sons have eczema, so I'm careful about what I use on things they will touch. I just received some President's choice cold water phosphate free laundry detergent so once I decide what I think about it, I'll share. So far it seems OK, although it has a wide open mouth and it spilled all over when I went to use it. Technical design wasn't so hot
there. I prefer liquid as I find I usually end up with a residue when I use powder.

Another thing to think about is your next machine. Mine came with the house and they are old - very old. But they work and I am careful to use the right water level to the amount of items and since I don't use the dryer much in the summer, they are keepers for now. But when they die, I will be getting Energywise appliances and preferably a high efficiency front loader for the washer. I'll definitely do my homework before we buy that, though, as the choices are mind boggling and I want the best item for the best price I can afford.

In a nutshell - since the laundry isn't going anywhere, I'm doing the best I can to be thoughtful about how I do it. Watching water levels in the washer, cold washes, hanging to dry and using laundry soap that is better for the environment helps to make this task a little more earthwise (and in the long run, energywise is also moneywise!)

What detergents do you use? And do you have a fabulous washer/dryer? If so, tell me more!!


Brenda said...

Living with two brothers (and one more to move in soon!) makes it tough to keep the amount of laundry to a minimum, especially since neither of them think ecologically. We all wash on the cold cycle only, and I make sure to buy concentrated detergent that doesn't have dyes or perfumes in it. The one I use is made by Arm and Hammer and I like it.

Our choices are limited because Safeway doesn't have a good "green" selection. The brands they do have usually cost close to twice the other brands. Of course.

At some point it will be just Bryce and I living together, and then it will be easier to be more eco-friendly.

RJ said...


If you ever have time - go to your Safeway manager and tell him/her that you'd like to see more of the eco friendly option that are out there. There are so many to choose from - although I know that Seventh Generation is one of the top eco friendly companies in the world. But the manager doesn't know what people there want until they ask for it - tell your friends to ask, too. Companies know that for every one person to talk to them there are hundreds out there who just don't take the time but feel the same way.

andrea said...

Have you tried soapnuts? I just picked some up at a new store here in Terrace (it's called "The Happy Tree" and is aiming to sell mostly local products, all natural and enviro-friendly stuff). Anyway, soapnuts are proving to be fantastic. I'm learning as I go, but apparently you can use them for more than just laundry (in dishwashers, as shampoo, in lieu of soap). To do a load of laundry, you throw 3 or 4 soapnuts in the cloth bag that comes with them (or you can put them in a sock and tie the end so they don't fall out.)You can reuse each nut about 4 times...they have a coating on them that is a natural cleaning agent. They've been used in southeast asia for years for this purpose. They leave no residue behind and as you wash your clothes with them, you notice your clothes are softer (because they have no crap left on them!) Best of all, when I'm finished with them I can throw them in with my compost! The bag they come in is cloth, and I'm sure I'll be able to reuse it somehow.
I'm sure they'd be easy to find in Vancouver, but you can also order them online.
Happy washing!

RJ said...

Andrea - that is too funny you mentioned that. I was looking at my blog today and one of those ad thingies was for soapnuts. I was going to ask if anyone had used them and what they were - and then you posted this comment!

I will have to investigate them. I do love my Seventh Generation for the kids - and I've like Nellies, too (I have their dryer balls as well) but I've not tried soap nuts. Now I shall have to go out and find them. Actually, there is a health food store down the road that I have yet to investigate - bet that might be a good place to start.