I’ve been doing my laundry frugally for over 10 years now, after my clothes dryer gave up the ghost. I often forget that most people don’t do laundry this way (at least in America), so I’d like to share my money-saving and environmentally-friendly routine. It may take a little getting used to, but summertime is the best time to try out the clothesline!
Step One: Use Cold Water – 75% of the total energy required to do a single laundry load is used by water heating, which in turn is responsible for 75% of greenhouse-gas emissions produced. Today’s detergents no longer require heat to activate their cleaning power, so we need to get hot water washing out of our collective mindset. Cold water washing is also gentler on your clothes, so they’ll last longer with less shrinkage.
Step Two: Use a Homemade Laundry Detergent – I make my own detergent, and it’s simple and fun to do. It comes to about 5 cents per load, and does a bang-up job cleaning. It is also friendlier to the environment, with no chemicals, fragrances or additives. Here is my homemade Zote laundry detergent recipe that I use all the time.
Step Three: Use a Clothesline/Air-Dry – I have a clothesline strung up in my backyard that I use all summer long. It’s nothing fancy, just a long length of waterproof boating rope that does the job magnificently. Just hang up your laundry with clothespins and let Mother Nature take over the drying. One tip for hanging clothing – hang tops (shirts, blouses) by their bottoms, and bottoms (pants, shorts, skirts) by their tops. It takes a little bit of maneuvering, but you’ll get the ‘hang’ of it quickly. When I first started air-drying about 10 years ago, I noticed about a 15% drop in my electric bill. Dryers are one of the top household energy-users, and by air-drying you can dry your laundry absolutely free!