Zero Waste laundry. Kind of a double edged sword. On one hand, you are going to waste some water. It's enevideble. But you can make such a difference regardless!
Part of going zero waste is not wasting the luxury we can utilities. Electricity and gas take resources to gather. When you use more electricity, you use more of those resources. Until we all get to the point to where we depend on solar power rather than coal, this is reality.
1) Start using new appliances makes such a big difference! They use less water! I can see some people thinking they are a pain but we have had our previously used set for ages and it's been amazing.
I also run my loads on the shortest time possible, no extra rinses. Get it done and over with.
Older appliances use more watts to work, that's just the nature of he beast. Newer appliances come with newer technology. Upgrade and really, over time you will save money on that electric bill.
2) Only use the dryer only for emergencies. If it's raining one day, check the weather and see if tomorrow is better. If it's not, fine. Wash only what you need and dry the smallest amount. I line hang clothes from winter to summer. If it's not going to rain or freeze them solid, I'm hanging laundry. I don't like the dryer. Once you get the 'hang' of line dried, you won't care for dryer-dryed clothes as much. It's like it's ironed for FREE! And the smell, so amazing. I swear. Plus, it gets us outside and breathing fresh air. Doing some manual labor! Good for the heart and soul!
If you don't have room outside, say in an apartment, make one inside! I have an emergency one inside over our wood stove and plan to put one in the bathroom on the ceiling for towels to drip dry.
In my area, kilowatts per hour is 8.95 cents. If I ONLY do 3 loads of laundry a week, 6 times in the washer and dryer, and my dryer is pulling 5.86 kw when it's in use. It takes over an hour to dry a load. So that is... about .53 cents per load. No biggie right? That's only half a dollar. K, that's 3 times a week and more than one load per day. I have the average of 2 loads per day. That means 2 loads in the dryer 3 times a week. 6 loads a week, 12 loads a month and 144 loads in a year. Holy crap. I hate laundry.
In a week of not using the dryer, I save: $3.18
In a month of not using the dryer, I save: $12.75
In a year of not using the dryer, I save: $76.32
No need for: dryer sheets, dryer balls,etc. additional savings.
Plus the sun naturally bleaches stains out! I never have to worry about my white reusable paper towels having stains or white clothes. When we cloth diapered, the diapers came out PERFECT after two small kids and many years of diapering between them.
That is with a brand new, high efficiency dryer. Not including the washer load costs. Also, gas rates are EVEN HIGHER, more often than not, than electric rates.
While that may not seem like a lot, it's throwing money down the drain, literally. If you do more laundry, guess what? It would save even more. I don't like losing money. Call me stingy but would rather have that money, be more active by hanging my own outside and have the great smell. All while saving the planet! Pats for me.
Around 14 million homes have electric dryers. Opting to dry their clothes with precious resources instead of outside. If those households would hang dry ONE load a week, that would save tons of carbon dioxide from polluting the planet. YOU have the power to either help or harm.
3) Making your own detergents and scented items. This saves me TONS. I'm sensitive to many things in detergent and there are many people who claim the ingredients are highly harmful. Why bother when making it yourself is so simple and works so well?
My homemade laundry detergent is:
- A box of baking soda
-A box of washing soda
-Grated soap (I make soap that's perfect for this. You want a hard bar, high cleaning power, lather and not too moisturizing when making your soaps. Pure coconut oil would work grand but I use a blend of coconut oil and castor with lemon zest and juice)
-Essential oils of your choice. I really like labdanum resin, Rosemary and lemongrass. I just love it. The resin really comes through (it's a bit spicy like cinnamon).
I also put this through the food processor so it's really smooth. One tablespoon per load! Always comes out clean and fresh! Scent lasts forever!
* I get a LOT of questions about soap nuts. I will not use them. The waste of exporting soapberries from their natural areas is very wasteful. Also, I heard that now they have become 'mainstream', the locals no longer have access to what was once their only way to clean their clothes. I do not support either of those things so will not be speaking on behalf of soapberries.*
-Kombucha, over fermented
-Few drops of Essential oils
Easy, peesy. Kombucha is the new Apple Cider Vinegar. It's easy to ferment at home, yourself and pennies on the dollar. You will not want it at drinking point, that's not nearly fermented enough. Ferment this batch used for cleaning a bit longer. You can go ahead and add herbs and spices, just be sure to let it breathe. This is not a second ferment, we do not want to carbonate this.
Here is my blog on how to make your own Kombucha:
I like fermenting my extended batch with Rosemary, lemon left-overs and adding a bit of labdanum resin right before using it. Just to match the detergent and I love it. Another one I love is cinnamon, clove, cardamom and allspice for a spicy autumn scented fabric softener. Then, no need to use essential oils at ALL. Try your own blends! Lemongrass, lavender... the options are crazy.
Fermenting helps release the plants natural oils out. Perfect way to use up the stems of rosemary and lavender. The peels of lemons, limes and oranges.
Emergency use only reusable dryer sheets:
-Your fabric softener mix above
Simply soak cuts of fabric, toss in the dryer. Or let air dry and put in drawers or closets!
I used my laundry soap, as mentioned above, as my stain stick. Many people on Etsy sell them. Just make sure it's palm oil free and free on plastic packaging. Someone will be more than happy to have your business. Forget the rest.
Hydrogen Peroxide works well too, especially on blood stains. DO NOT PRE-MIX PEROXIDE WITH ANYTHING. It will become inert almost instantly and it will also become inert to sunlight, hence most coming in brown bottles.
4) Reusing Grey water.
This is a touch and go subject but I am happy with the ingredients of my laundry routine. They are eco-friendly. But still. If you are planning on reusing grey water there are some caches.
1) Don't use water that's been used to wash diapers. Reusing that would be a biohazard risk.
2) This can be quite beneficial to plants but avoid watering on the edible fruit of plants.
3) Never try to store grey water for more than a few hours. Any standing water is a breeding ground for bacteria, place for mosquitoes and odors.
4) Do not pipe grey water to run or pool in the yard, for the same reasons.
If you are interested in reusing your grey water, please go to this site!
I thought it was VERY well planned out! It does seem like a lot of work but it's worth it if you garden or water your lawn. Why waste water when waste water is being wasted? Say THAT three times fast. Okay, I did and it wasn't that bad. Dang.
Remember to always put your clothes up right after they are done. Don't let wet clothes sit in the washer. Not only is that damaging but can lead to odor and growth of mold, mildew and bacteria. Yuck! As soon as my laundry is done in the early morning, I'm hanging it. As soon as The Smart Guy gets home at night, I'm taking it down and putting it away.
Three days a week and laundry never piles up. It takes me 10 minutes to put the entire Smart Pants Family's clothes up from laundry day. More time for me and less weekends wasted tackling the pile of laundry. Nah thanks.
Having the luxury of machines to do all our washing is such an amazing thing. Something many people are taking for granted. Look at your laundry and feel grateful you have clothes. You have a place to put them. You have machines that do all the hard work. Put in some effort yourself. Save some money and the environment around you!
Love and Fresh Linens,
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants