By Karina | October 22, 2007
I did what felt like approximately tenhundredthousand loads of laundry yesterday. When you’re cranking them all by hand, it really does seem like a lot of work. In actuality, I spent only a couple of hours and washed probably 3 regular-sized loads of laundry. So, another benefit of cranking your laundry is that you have lots of time to think…
One of the things that always strikes me as I use my wonder wash is the very small amount of detergent I have to use when I do the wash. To do a full load I only need to put in 1 1/2 tablespoons of detergent. Using the estimate of 1/2 regular wash = 1 wonder wash load, that means that I am using about 3 Tb of detergent per regular load of wash. (For perspective, 4Tb = 1/4 cup) Which isn’t that much! It’s a little less than the recommended amount as per the bottle of detergent. And I really do think I could use less, because I’m not sure that the rinse water is coming out as clean as it could.
I’ve heard colloquially that top-loader washing machines don’t do a good job of rinsing out your clothes, and if you run a load of wash in a front-loader with no detergent you can see the suds coming out of the clothes left over from the poor rinsing of the top-loader. I’ve never tried this, but would love to hear if any of you have!
Right now I’m using method laundry detergent (without any fragrance). As an aside – the first few times I washed my clothes in the wonder wash with the no-fragrence detergent I was really surprised at what my clothes smelled like wet. Now I’m used to it, but it’s amazing what we lose track of thanks to masking fragrances!
The method laundry detergent is rated HE, or High Efficiency. Front-loading washers require HE detergent in part because of the way the mechanisms go together — they just can’t tolerate too much sud in the wash water. HE detergent doesn’t sud up as much as a standard detergent does. I wonder how much of the mythical rinsing properties of front-loaders have to do with the simple fact that you’re using less detergent to start with, and on top of that, the detergent you use has less sudsing agents in it (so it appears to rinse cleaner).
Anyway. What do all these ruminations have to do with the environment? The less laundry detergent you use, the fewer bottles of detergent you have to buy. That means less waste and fewer plastic containers floating through your life!
With that in mind, there are a few different sources on-line for homemade laundry detergent. You can DIY it up and avoid the plastic jug all-together! Here’s a recipe for what is called a “giant bucket of slime” – but the quantities are way too huge for my needs, and I just don’t have room to store giant buckets of slime in my apartment (especially when I’d be using it in tablespoon quantities). We might have to have a tiny choices laundry detergent party… Any interest?
[[Photo by iapx via flickr/creative commons.]]
Have you noticed a difference in laundry quantities used with different machines? What is your washing method? Have you made your own detergent?
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