Green Laundry


I would subscribe to the hippie lifestyle if it wasn’t for my love of being clean. There’s nothing like reaching in the closet and putting on a fresh pair of socks. I like to smell good, but I also do not like to put harsh chemicals on my skin. Read the back of your laundry detergent and you’ll likely find a long list of ingredients that you can’t pronounce because they do not exist in nature. My saving grace is Dr. Bronner’s castile soap.

This soap comes in different sizes and scents. It is made with all natural ingredients. The company is committed to sustainable and ethical production/business practices. I spoke with some representatives of Dr. Bronner’s in NYC at the Green Festival this past spring. They were personable, gave out tons of free samples, and genuinely love the product. That’s because Dr. Bronner’s is good for the environment, a great multi-purpose cleaner (you can clean almost anything with this tuff), cheap (it’s highly concentrated), organic, fair trade, and gentle on your body. All castile soaps are great for cleaning, Dr. Bronner’s just happens to be the best deal and therefore, my favorite.

For awhile I was content with using eco-friendly washing detergent, but I recently moved into a new apartment with a coin operated washer and dryer. I’m not someone who normally carries around $3 worth of quarters and it’s also expensive, I needed a solution. I remembered watching No Impact Man, where the family did their laundry in the bath tub because it does not require electrical energy. Cool beans, I thought, but how practical would it be?

It was surprisingly fun and a great workout! Since I use Dr. Bronner’s I do not need to worry about chemicals soaking into my skin. Next came drying, which didn’t work out quite as well as I thought it would. I installed an indoor clothesline. After two washes this is what happened:

This picture serves as a cautionary tale: either buy an anchor or find a stud or be prepared for the hardware to fall out (and it will). I rehung the clothesline and it works, but the process is much more time consuming than the dryer and much less effective. It’s constantly wet in the Pacific Northwest so that also makes it more difficult to rely on air drying. I still hang up a small amount of clothes. It is more practical (and still saves a lot of energy) to do your laundry manually and head to the dryer to dry clothes. You will still save money and you will still help out the earth!

Instructions for bath tub laundry:

  1. Turn on the water and remember you can have a cold, warm, or hot wash.
  2. While the water is running add 1/4 cup castile soap and 2 tablespoons baking soda directly into the flowing water.
  3. Add clothes and swish around to ensure they are soaked.
  4. Let the clothes soak for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Put on some Italian music and getting ready to stomp those clothes like you would grapes to make wine. Stomp for 2-3 songs to ensure clothes are cleaned.
  6. Drain water.
  7. Refill tub with water at desired temperature.
  8. Repeat stomping and rinsing until water runs clear (usually 1-3 rinses is sufficient).
  9. Stand on clothes to squeeze out excess water and let drain for 10 minutes.
  10. Transfer to clothesline OR dryer.

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