IN ADDITION TO SAVING WATER AND ELECTRICITY, HANDWASHING CLOTHING CAN ALSO HELP YOUR CLOTHES LAST LONGER
Many people grumble when they read “hand wash only” on a clothing label, but there are advantages to you and your clothes when you wash and dry your clothes by hand. The time-tested, low cost, low energy method of washing and drying clothes by hand is too good to relegate just to delicates.
BENEFITS OF HANDWASHING
By forgoing washing machines and dryers, handwashing clothes eliminates the need for electricity and saves a substantial amount of water. Even water-saving machines use 18-25 gallons of water a load, which is reduced to around five gallons for handwashing.
Plus, handwashing is gentler on clothing. It enables more effective rinsing, which helps reduce detergent build-up that can break down fabric. Air drying is also easier on clothing and helps items last longer. And with the hand agitating, you might also get some incredible biceps.
Washing clothes by hand requires a few simple supplies. Two five-gallon buckets—one bucket for washing and one for rinsing —or a tub or sink make ideal places for handwashing. A plunger with holes cut in it or an agitator like the Breathing Mobile Washer helps push detergent and water through the clothing to more effectively clean it.
Of course, you’ll also need access to a water supply and biodegradable detergent. Eco-friendly soap and fabric softener is critical for dirty laundry water that’s going to be poured outside.
SO FRESH, SO CLEAN
When using the two bucket method, be sure to work outside or somewhere inside that you don’t mind getting wet. Fill both buckets half full of water; remember, one bucket is for washing and one for rinsing. Add detergent to the wash bucket, and put in five to six articles of clothing. Agitate the clothing for two minutes, then wring them out and transfer them to the rinse bucket.
By Jolene Nolte and Barri Segal
Whether you’re gung ho to wash your clothes by hand or not, another way to save on laundry is to make your own detergent. To make your own, find a biodegradable bar soap like Ivory or Fels-Naptha. You will also need Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and Borax. If desired, you can add in your favorite essential oil for scent and/or additional cleaning properties. The process is simple:
Use a box grater to grate up the soap into oatmeal-size pieces.
Add the soap chips to the washing soda (break up any big clumps) and pulse it in a food processor or blender until it’s blended well.
Now, add the Borax and blend again until it looks well-mixed and has a similar consistency to baby powder.
If washing by hand sounds like too much work, start by nixing the dryer. Air drying your clothes will mean up to $165 in annual savings.