Many years ago, I dated a girl who only wore an item once before throwing it in the hamper. Even her bath towels were only used once before being washed! There was a constant stream of laundry being done in her house, using thousands and thousands of gallons of water per year, along with the energy needed to run the machines and heat the water up. All because she didn’t want to wear an item or use a towel more than once. Unfortunately, there are probably many people like this in the world, wasting valuable resources to clean everything they own too often. Thinking of this the other day made me really think about how often I do laundry, and I wanted to get your take on it as well.
First, let me get this out of the way – I wash everything in cold water, no exceptions. I cannot remember the last time I had to use warm or hot water on something, but I imagine if you had a baby in the house it might be necessary. Lucky for me, I am not as messy as a baby. 😉 We have an Energy Star rated front-loading washer that automatically adds the right amount of water based on how big the load is, and it spins for quite some time to get all the water out of the clothes before ending the wash cycle. And most of the time, I hang everything out to dry on the clothesline I hung in the yard. No sense in using the dryer when I have that huge ball of fire and heat shining down on me every day! Now, about how often I wash things…
I do, unlike the woman I mentioned above, wash myself more often than I wash my clothes. For example, I only wash my jeans after I wear them at least 5 times, if not more. Jeans are pretty tough, they get more comfortable the longer you wear them, and they can last a very long time if you take care of them. Part of taking care of them is not washing them too often, washing them in cold water, and letting them hang dry. The washing of clothes really beats on the fabric, and I don’t really enjoy finding new jeans that fit right – so I take care of the ones I have. The 3 pairs of jeans I own I have had for a few years now, and only one of them is showing any signs of fraying around the edges. T-shirts are normally worn twice, as long as I didn’t get too sweaty or didn’t get them too dirty working out in the yard. Long sleeve shirts and jackets are washed even less frequently than jeans, as normally they don’t even touch the skin. Socks and underwear are pretty much the only items I wash after each use. And as for towels, well, mine last about 5 days before needing to be washed. You have to make sure they dry out after each use, but there is absolutely no need to wash a towel after using it just once. After all, you just got out of the shower – you should be clean!
Along the cold water, I use either soapnuts or Seventh Generation laundry detergent, which comes in a recyclable cardboard box with a recycled plastic scoop. These natural cleaners are less harsh on our clothes and are better for the earth, as the waste water from the laundry finds its way outside to the leeching field and the desert scrub. I don’t really want chemicals out there watering the plants!
So…this leads me to you. How do you do your laundry? I wrote this post to encourage others to watch how often they do laundry, taking into account how much electricity, water, fossil fuels, machine wear and tear, and clothing wear and tear happens every time you do. Washing your clothes less often in cold water, with natural detergents, followed by line-drying, saves you money on your utility bills and in needing to purchase new clothes more often.
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