Low-Waste Laundry

I have a whole new laundry process since trying to do zero waste that I wanted to share with you!

First, I want to talk about wearing clothes.  It sounds silly, but re-wearing items a few times cuts down on energy usage when you do your laundry.  I re-wear my jeans and dress pants for work 3-4 times before putting them in the wash.  I re-wear my cardigan sweaters at least twice before cleaning them, and my work tops I usually only wear once because they are my bottom layer.  When I get home from work, I change my clothes immediately (because germs) and put my pants and sweater tops in a separate section of my closet to wear again, away from my clean clothes.  I put on my comfy house clothes, which I usually wear for at least 3 days, usually all week long, before putting them in the wash.  I like to shower in the evenings, so I am usually clean when putting these on.  I also wear the same pajamas for a week each, unless they get dirty or sweaty or something.  This allows us to survive on one load of clothing laundry per week, and 2 loads every few weeks to catch up.  Since we are clean when we go to bed, I wash our sheets every 2 weeks, and our hand and shower towels go into the hamper each week, then get washed with the sheets. 

When I take our hamper of dirty clothes to the laundry room on the weekends, I have to pit stop to collect more laundry in the kitchen.  Since we use rags, unpaper towels and cloth napkins, I put a basket in the counter to collect our kitchen laundry.  I include this in our weekly wash cycles. 

As far as laundry detergent goes, I have found that I like buying bulk liquid detergent best.  It is significantly cheaper than the laundry sheets available online, and I don’t have to have it shipped to me, which helps with emissions.  My husband and I tried a small glass bottle of unscented detergent bulk from Mom’s Organic Market, and did an experimental load to make sure neither of us had any reactions to it.  We only use 2 tablespoons of detergent per load because it is highly concentrated, so it will last us a long time.  Now that we know this works for us, I can use my empty tide container to go refill when we need it.  I do want to try a slightly scented detergent refill at some point because I am not the biggest fan of no scent at all. We do a lot of work on our house and yard and I am starting to exercise more regularly so, not to be gross, but I my clothes need a tad more help than completely unscented detergent.

As far as drying clothes goes, I still have about half a box of dryer sheets left so I use those occasionally when we have a load of sheets and towels. I am saving the rest for when we have a large load of sweaters in the winter that will be full of static if I don’t use one. When they run out, I will simply no longer use them.  I don’t want to purchase reusable dryer balls because they are made of wool, and I have established a new system for drying our clothes to eliminate the need altogether. 

The plan is to run a clothesline in our backyard, but we have not gotten around to this yet and it is now September, so we will probably wait until spring to set that up.  I timed our dryer and found that it runs for 56 minutes each run, and it is a gas dryer, so we are using energy there every week.  My new system for winter and rainy days when I have to do laundry and can’t hang outside is as follows: I put the clothes in the dryer for 15 minutes to get them started and to de-wrinkle them a bit, then hang them all over the laundry room.  I have a drying rack that fits some clothes, and intend to get one more soon.  I like to use space saving hangers in my closet, and since I recently let go of a lot of my wardrobe, I have extra hangers lying around.   I swapped my husband’s plastic hangers out for my extra space saving felt hangers, and moved the plastic hangers to a drawer in the laundry room.  When I hang our clothes inside to dry, I hang our pants, undies, socks, towels, etc. on the drying rack, and hang our shirts on the plastic hangers around the room to dry.  It is time consuming and takes a long time because I can only hang one load of laundry at a time, but I like the fact that I don’t need to use my dryer.  When I have another rack to hang clothes, I will be able to possibly avoid using the dryer altogether in the winter. 

So aside from wanting to find a new detergent and needing another drying rack, I think I have a pretty successful system here. 

** What I learned this week:

Happy news: I went grocery shopping this week and only bought one plastic wrapped product; the zero waste grocery shopping is getting easier as I go! We also hosted a vegan barbeque and everyone seemed to enjoy the food, which was really endearing.

Not so happy news: I learned about bone char being used in refined sugar, which was a bit devastating for me because I love baking, and now I need to find ingredients to use that are truly vegan in the way they are produced. 

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