Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sustainable Laundry

Washing clothes is a process that required careful thought when transitioning to life at Healing Earth. The factors that needed to be considered were:

Power: A washing machine would require some form of power supply, which we want to eliminate as much as possible. While we are purchasing some solar generators for running essential things, we are not simply setting up solar arrays to cover living a conventional energy and appliance based lifestyle.

Longevity: A washing machine has a limited life, uses many resources in its manufacture, and does not biodegrade back into the earth without harm. As it is not a necessity (like a freezer, which for practical purposes is) it is not a good or viable option for us.

Water management and washing detergent: Water management is critical and washing by hand uses far less water than a washing machine. In addition, by ensuring that the products used for washing the clothes are totally harmless to the earth and plants, we can use all the greywater for watering plants or washing dishes, with nothing going to waste.

With all this in mind, we have gone from a washing machine to these, purchased from Lehmans:
We have the large galvanized steel board and the large glass board. The glass board is amazing for tough stains and making those dirty tube socks white as snow!
These plunger style washers are very effective for forcing the water through the clothes. We use them in the soapy water before scrubbing on the washboard and also in the rinse for a really good clean!
As for detergent, we use soap nuts very successfully. However, we have found that the ground up soap nuts work much better as the powder. The beauty of these...they grow on trees, a wonderful renewable resource for washing and cleaning! We have used Sals Suds in the past, although now we simply grate a bar of Castille soap mixed with water and use it for more challenging loads. We also have eco wash balls, which work nicely, but in the long run we will focus on growing soap nut trees, which will eliminate spending any money on laundry detergent while benefiting the earth and air!

We grind our soap nut shells, but the ready ground powder is available here.

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