Washing & Drying Clothes the Green Way

Although I purchased (and fell in-love with ) a washer/dryer last year for the house, I now share one very old washer/dryer with a complex of 8 flats. That one washer is quarter happy, always has crud around it from all the harsh chemicals people use (why?!) and seems to be constantly in use. This can make washing clothes rather a pain.

Since I don’t own that many clothes I want to keep what I do have and keep it in great shape – I don’t trust the complex washer and dryer to do that. And so I’ve hand washed most of my clothes forever – and guess what – I’ve kept most of my clothes like new forever.

My biggest tip is to not wash your clothes very often – some not at all which is handy for people like me who don’t really see hand washing as “beautiful” or “therapeutic.” Most people in the US cringe over that but there’s some sweaters and delicate blouses I only wear for special events or every now and then. Without dirt, stains or sweat all over it there’s no reason to wash it. I had a girlfriend here that washed her jeans after every wearing yet couldn’t understand why they faded and didn’t fit right after a month.

For things I must launder (towels, sheets) I never use dryer sheets – instead I use one of those reusable drying balls. And I use Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent, which does the job really well without breaking down the fibers.

With loads of laundry before me, I was happy to discover some more great green washing/drying clothing tips thanks to the Green LA Girl. I’m a huge believer in air-drying, too, and love my drying rack completely (perhaps a little too much – I never seem to take it down. I should, really).

And my best tip? Run out and get yourself some Bacout. This biodegradable product gets rid of any stain in clothes and carpets. I’ve used it on everything with success – even on delicates.

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2 Comments

  1. September 12, 2007 / 12:33 AM

    These are great tips, and they remind me of my grandmother who was a proponent of many of them. Unfortunately, there is a very big bias against not washing as often, as it is seen as dirty and not proper.

    But I guess sometimes people just like to burn money to make themselves feel better.

  2. March 19, 2009 / 11:57 AM

    I’m a green builder, and water efficiency is one of the issues we should be dealing with more than we are. There’s a lot of very efficient wsher/dryers out there, but what’s really efficient is when you reuse the water. I have a very low-tech system in use at my house: I have a 55-gallon heavy-duty trash can on an elevated stand outside the laundry room. I have plumbed the washer-drain to empty into the trashcan, and plumbed the can with a hose-spigot. I have a hose hooked up that I rotate around the lawn, plantings and trees between washes. With my drought-tolerant plantings, I don’t really need anymore irrigation that. A good green solution is one that saves legal-tender green as well, because you’ll stick with it in hard times. (Note: do not use irrigate with washer water if you are washing cloth diapers.)

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