Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eco-Friendly Ways to Wash Your Clothes Without a Machine

Cleaning your laundry in a washing machine has become the go-to method for many people. Machine washing uses large volumes of water as well as energy, both to run the machine and heat the water. If you're looking for ways to be kind to the environment, there are eco-friendly ways to wash your clothes without a machine.


Hand Washing

You can wash your laundry in a sink, bathtub or other watertight receptacle. Fill the tub with water, place dirty clothes in the water until they are saturated and use friction to remove dirt from the clothes. Some people rub the fabric together to mimic the agitation of a washing machine. You may also use a washing board, or a corrugated metal sheet in a wooden frame, to rub the fabric against for the purposes of loosening dirt from your clothes. This method still uses water but eliminates the energy usage associated with washing machines.

Water and Detergent Choices

When hand washing clothes, water and detergent choices affect how eco-friendly this activity is. Use cold water whenever possible. This uses less energy as you do not have to heat the water, and it also helps prevent the dye in your clothes from running and staining. You should also use as little water as possible to avoid wasting water. If possible, instead of pouring used clothes-washing water down the drain, consider whether you can reuse it to water your plants or garden. This is only possible if you use nontoxic detergents. Look for vegetable oil-based detergents instead of the standard petroleum-based detergents. You can also add one to two cups of vinegar to your wash water to deodorize or a half cup of baking soda to whiten laundry.

Green Dry Cleaning

One way to avoid the use of a washing machine is to have your clothes dry-cleaned. Note that some clothing marked "dry clean only" on the care instructions, such as delicates, can be hand washed. You can also hand wash items, such as button-down shirts, at home and take them to your local dry cleaner for professional pressing. If your clothes must be dry-cleaned, choose your dry cleaner carefully; not all services are eco-friendly. Traditionally, dry cleaners have used perchloroethylene to clean clothes; this chemical is both an environmental and health hazard. Look for a dry cleaner that uses environmentally-friendly methods and chemicals, such as liquid carbon dioxide, or CO2, and wet cleaning. CO2 dry cleaning technology achieves friction by passing CO2 into a depressurized chamber filled with clothing. Wet cleaning involves highly specialized cleaning methods that cut down on the amount of water used and the use of chemicals that are biodegradable, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Both methods involve the use of energy, but they are still easier on the environment than other dry cleaning methods.

About Washing Machines

The average washing machine uses 41 gallons of water per load, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website . This is far more than is generally used in hand washing clothes. It also increases your electric bill and uses energy. While hand washing clothing is more time consuming, it is far better for the environment.


Post a Comment

Can Kenya break the global fashion industry's low-wage model?

Catherine Makie, 27, sews bow ties for European and US markets in Nairobi’s Kibera slum. Photograph: Anna Dubuis The textile industry i...