With the help of indoor plumbing, automatic washing, and detergents from the store, our washdays are no longer as physically demanding as they were a century ago; even so, the synthetic ingredients in detergents can damage us as well as our environment. From huge and sometimes wasteful water usage, to harmful chemicals that leach into our ground water, the ocean and our environment it is time to look at alternatives to help preserve the environment;
- Wash full loads to get the most out of water and energy use.
- Use cold water when rinsing laundry; when washing clothes, most of the energy used goes to heat the water.
- Use natural detergents—plant-based, biodegradable detergents; avoid those with chemicals such as phosphate, chlorine, and petroleum, as well as those with fabric brighteners, fragrance, and dyes. There are great options that include products by companies such as Seventh Generation and a new product I am trying out Soap Nuts.
- Line dry what you can; it saves energy and money and extends the life of your clothes.
Rain Washing (Alternative to dry-cleaning chemicals)
Utilize Mother Nature to clean your delicates or large woolens; works for items ranging from baby sweaters to large carpets. This is the gentlest way of washing. The beauty of these methods is it preserves fresh water, which will be a premium as global warming continues.
- Look for a rainstorm in the forecast
- Hang soiled woolens outside over sheets on a clothesline, or lay out on a clean, flat surface; let rain waterwash through through it.
- Shake forcefully before bringing in woolens hung on clotheslines in order to remove any insect eggs that may have been laid in the wool, or use the tumbling action of a dryer Snow Cleaning (Alternative to dry-cleaning chemicals) Used from woolen garments and done in dry snow rather than wet snow.
- Hang clothes outdoors during a snowstorm (not a blizzard); hang clothes as open as possible.
- Let falling snow sweep off the dust
- Shake the garments and bring indoors
These methods are not appropriate for all situations, but just a little bit goes a long way towards preserving our environment.