Since my husband and I began our homesteading journey last January laundry has been an issue. For some reason, that I don’t remember, our laundry routine was one of the first changes I attempted to make upon declaring a commitment to greener living. First, I decided I would hand wash our clothes…. I did this twice… in the bath tub… it was not fun. Kudos to anyone who wants to do this, but after I did a cost evaluation the couple of cents I spent per week running the washing machine on a small cold cycle was not worth the time, effort, and aggravation it took to hand wash the clothes. Then, I started making our own laundry detergent, which worked out very well. However, the first time I used it I had read online that some people needed to use a vinegar rinse on the clothes so I did that and our clothes smelled like vinegar for a week. This made for a VERY unhappy husband. I have never used vinegar since and our clothes are just fine. After that, I decided to just focus on the drying process of the clothes because we were running our dryer a lot and not only was it increasing our electric bill it was also ruining our clothes. Our dryer came with our apartment and even though I have had people look at it multiple times who insist that nothing is wrong with it, it requires a full two 45 minute cycles on high to get anything dry. Needless to say that was a mess. I began hanging our clothes up to dry and then using the dryer for less than five minutes to “fluff” them and remove any stiffness that results from hang-drying them indoors. This was an adjustment too however, because we had to figure out an efficient system for hanging up all of our laundry it our tiny apartment. We have finally achieved a great system and while I am not sure that it has saved us a tremendous amount of money in electric costs it has saved us a lot of money on clothes because they are no longer being ruined by insistent drying at high temperatures. Here is our routine:
Since there are only two of us I only usually do laundry one day a week in the evening (when electric costs are lower and we are about to go to bed) and it usually consists of one dark and one light load. I usually wash our sheets and towels once every other week or so and they are generally in a separate load. All of our laundry is washed in cold water no matter what. Using an electric washer doesn’t use that much energy unless it requires hot water. I also only ever use the light cycle so it runs for less time. This saves water and time, but still gets your clothes plenty clean.
I take the clothes out and separate the small things like underwear, shorts, socks, and tank tops from everything else. They go in a basket for later. Then I use regular plastic hangers and hang everything else up from the doorframe of our “laundry room” (It’s a closet off of the kitchen) and on one of the sets of shelves we have in there. Once everything is hung up I lay the small items out on top of the washer and dryer. We then turn on a dehumidifier we have in the closet and let it run overnight. In the morning I get up, turn off the dehumidifier fluff the clothes while I make my coffee and then the laundry is done. The only exception is sheets and towels. I did find that they took way too long to air dry inside so I do put them in the dryer right from the start. I figure using the crazy dryer for one load twice a month is still way better than 2-3 loads once a week.
Like I said, I am not sure how much we have actually saved on energy because we do run the dehumidifier, however I have noticed a huge difference in the wear and tear of our clothes. Also, we run the dehumidifier every night anyway because we live in the south in a very humid area and our apartment has had some moisture problems in the past, so the dehumidifier serves more than one purpose.
What is your laundry routine have you ever experimented with trying to make it more “green”?