Monday, June 4, 2012

Eco-Friendly Laundry on a Dime

Laundry.  Everyone's favorite chore, right?  I actually enjoy it, but I get the impression that I'm a minority in that regard.  The laundry is one thing that we have already successfully 'crunchified' in our household!

First off, allow me to give you a few simple tips when it comes to doing your laundry, saving money, and being eco-friendly.

1) Whenever possible, wash on cold settings.  This keeps more money in your pocket AND conserves energy! Heating your water requires energy and adds on to your utility bill. :)

2) Only wash with a full load.  Washing before you have a full load takes extra energy, extra water, and extra washes, all things that add up as an extra strain on the environment and end up taking extra money out of your pocket!

3) Use the lowest water setting possible for the amount of laundry in the load.  If the 'small load' setting on your washer is all you need, use it.

4) This one might be a challenge for some, but it's definitely worth it!  Ready for it?  Dun dun dun . . . skip the dryer!  I highly encourage you to invest in a simply drying rack ($20 at Wal-mart) or put up an outdoor clothesline (or both!).  It will pay for itself in very little time!  We actually haven't even had a working dryer at our house since last fall.  Everything is hung out to dry at our house.  We have a household of three people (one of which is in cloth diapers), and, as long as we manage to stay on top of laundry, one drying rack is all we need.  I typically do a load of laundry before bed and then leave it to hang dry overnight.  Everything is typically dry by morning.  If it's a warm, sunny day out with low humidity, you could easily dry 3 or 4 loads outside.  We often just prop our drying rack out on the deck.  A little breeze even helps the items dry faster.  Sadly, we're renting, so I can't put up a clothesline, but as soon as we get our own house, I'm pretty sure that's FIRST on the list of priorities! :)

Feel like you don't have time to hang dry your clothes?  Here's a hint.  It hardly takes any time at all.  Instead of taking that time to switch laundry loads, take a few minutes to hang your clothes on the drying rack and go.  They'll dry by themselves. :)

And lastly, allow me to introduce you to the 'sliced bread' of eco-friendly, money saving laundry:  soap nuts.

I had no idea what these gems even were until I started trying to figure out how in the heck I was supposed to wash our cloth diapers.  They are, literally, nuts.  They grow on the Sapindus Mukorossi tree and, when exposed to water, release saponin, which is an all natural (how much more natural can you get than NUTS?!) detergent.  They can be used one of two ways.  As pictured above, they can be tossed in a muslim sack and thrown in the washing machine (I typically toss in about 4 - 6 nuts).  One round of nuts can be used for 4 - 5 loads of laundry before most of the saponin is used up!  They can also be turned into liquid detergent and used that way.  They are both gentle on clothes and effective at cleaning them.  In fact, if you're a cloth diaper user, soap nuts are recommended!  For cloth diapers, standard detergents (even ones considered cloth-diaper 'safe') can leave a slight residue on diaper fibers.  Ammonia can 'stick' to that residue and yield stinky diapers.  That's why cloth diapers have to be stripped every so often, to get all of that detergent residue and stinky ammonia out of them.  Soap nuts do NOT leave that same residue, so if you wash your cloth diapers with soap nuts, you shouldn't ever need to strip them! :)  As an added bonus, with soap nuts as laundry detergent, the price per load has been quoted as low as $0.03 to $0.05!  

For more information on the soap nut, it's origin, and it's MULTIPLE uses (it can absolutely be used for more than laundry!) check out this informative web page:

Soap nuts can be purchased from many places.  I encourage you to check out and order a sample!  If you decide that they're a good fit for you check out a 2 lb. bag!  We purchased ours from pucketacreek on e-bay for $24.95 shipped!  And now we're set for laundry for the next 300 washes or so. ;)

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post!  And with that, it's diaper laundry night, so I'm going to go ahead and start up my washing machine. :)

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