The Laundry Room
Wash. Dry. Repeat.
Do less laundry and live your best life instead. Here, we'll discuss how to save on laundry expenses and rethink your clothes and linen washing habits altogether.
Save your dryer lint. 
Yes! If you don’t want to use it (some folks use it for fire starters stuffed into toilet paper rolls, or for bedding for their hamsters), give it away! Someone in your local BuyNothing community will love you for it!

Make your own laundry detergent. 
(This is a recipe taken directly from our book) What you’ll need: borax, washing soda, and a bar of soap (nothing beats a bar of Fels-Naptha for stain fighting).

What to do: Use the fine-shred side of a hand grater to grate your bar of soap into a large mixing bowl, or chop the bar into one-inch chunks, and then use a food processor to chop it to fine pieces. Add 1 cup each of borax and washing soda. Mix by hand wearing protective, reusable rubber gloves. You can also use a food processor as long as you chop the soap into small chunks to protect your blade, and wash it very well once your batch is finished. Blend until everything is well blended and mostly smooth, with the curls of the grated soap broken down. Store the finished mix in a large jar and keep the lid screwed on tight between uses. Keep this clearly labeled mixture out of the reach of children and anyone else who might ingest it, as these ingredients are not safe for consumption! You can add white vinegar to your loads as a fabric softener to reduce soap buildup on the clothing and your washer. All of the ingredients are readily available in recyclable plastic-free packaging, and for less than what the same amount of commercially made laundry detergent generally costs.

Skip the dryer altogether. 
We’ve learned some amazing lessons about laundry while living in cultures where there might be no reliable electricity for washing machines and dryers. During one such learning experience, we noticed people weren’t wringing out the wet clothes and linens to hasten drying. In fact, the clean water from the dripping laundry was being put to use to water grasses and vegetables! In one such instance, to conserver water, laundry was hung right over the vegetable garden to drip-irrigate precious veggies. So, come summer, when the rains were non-existent, we gave it a try and hung our dripping-wet laundry (no spin cycle used) over our tomato plants and we never needed to water them throughout those dry months! Laundry water tomatoes were delicious.
Live a life less laundry. 
How often do you do your laundry? Americans launder clothes way too often. And we use too much detergent, according to the Wall Street Journal. We’ve started re-thinking our laundry scene here at home. We’re also becoming more water-conscious. Levi-Strauss Co. gets it: In an article in the New York Times, Levi-Strauss admits to the amount of water they’ve used in the past to stonewash their jeans. And now they’re sewing tags in clothes to tell consumers to not wash their jeans so often (by the end of their life, your jeans will have consumed 919 gallons of water.) Levi’s CEO walks the walk, because he rarely washes his jeans. 

But for us, the issue has become more about plastic. Yes, plastic is in your laundry and one of our favorite scientists today, Mark Browne, has determined that on average a single garment will shed 1900 fibers of microplastic per wash into your gray water. The problem is woven in our favorite polypropylene pants or tights, or poly-wool blend sweaters. If it’s made of plastic, it’s shedding plastic, and those microfibers are showing up on every shoreline on our planet. This is a very real concern to marine biologists and toxicologists who are finding that microfibers are ingested by many marine species and are likely making their way into our own food stream.
So take a close look at your dryer lint. It’s those fibers that are making their way out of your washing machine and into our waters. If you’re a died-in-the-wool purist about your clothes and only wear organic cottons and fibers, you’re doing wonders for the planet. The Fibershed Project is a fine example of lessons learned when you truly look at clothes, how they’re manufactured, where they come from, and the amount of energy, water, and toxins used to make them. The Fibershed folks promote looking at which fibers can be sourced in your own bioregion.

So, one thing you CAN do to reduce the amount of water you use and the microplastics your laundry is shedding, consider doing less laundry in general. The next time you see us or members of our family, you’ll know we’re stretching our standards a little, wearing those clothes just a little longer before contributing further to a growing problem in our oceans.
Say “no” to dryer sheets. 
Consider making your own dryer balls to not only reduce dryer time but to also replace the need for dryer sheets. They help with the static cling problem. If you have a few balls of 100% wool yarn, ball them up, wind some more wool yarn around them to make them into tennis ball and soft ball size. Next, grab a few oddball socks out of your drawer (we know you have lots of single socks) and place one wool ball inside one sock and tie off the end. Do this for as many balls as you can make, so they're now ready for the washing machine.

Put the cycle on high and throw in a few towels and T-shirts in. We did the cycle twice, just to be sure that the wool balls were felting up. Throw it all into the dryer for a high heat cycle.
The outer tied-off socks should be easy to untie and then rescue the now-felted-wool balls from their sock prisons. Each one should have felted up nicely.

Experts at this have suggested putting a few drops of your favorite essential oil on the wool balls about every 4th load you dry. This adds a nice fragrance to your laundry.

No washer? Here’s how to wash clothes in the bathtub.
Wherever you are, if you have a bathtub, you can do laundry! This practice can help you if you're traveling. There are 2 ways to tub-clean your dirty togs. If you’re taking a shower, you can always conserve water and throw your dirty clothes in the bottom of the tub to benefit from your shower water. I know it doesn’t sound glamorous, but it works if you just need to get your clothes clean quickly. Otherwise, here are a few steps involved in the bathtub method:

1) Run the water and plug the drain. Be sure to put enough water in the tub to just cover your clothing. In a pinch, you can use hand soap if you're in a hotel, but you can always use your own biodegradable laundry powder or laundry bar soap.

2) Let the clothes soak for a few minutes. Then you can rub your soap all over the clothing, and scrub around the really dirty areas.

3) Next, get your children in the tub and let them walk all over your clothing. It’s a fun game for them and massages their feet. If you have no children around, do it yourself or you can “agitate” your clothes by hand, too. One reader told us she does bathtub laundry at home and uses a spare toilet plunger for her “agitation cycle.” Be sure to hand scrub your dirty areas with extra attention.

4) Drain the dirty water and run more water over your clothes to fully rinse them out. You might need to rinse twice if you’ve used a lot of soap.

5) Wring each piece of clothing out and then hang them to dry over the tub. Depending on your climate, you should have dry clothes in a few hours, almost as long as it would’ve taken you to take your clothing to a laundry service to do it for you.

And the price is right.

We're not huge fans of doing laundry, mostly because people tend to do way too much of it and our microplastic-laden clothes are contributing to our toxic shorelines. Hand-washing means you’ll really only wash those clothes if you absolutely need to, not just because you wore them once.

We like this system because it’s cheap, it didn’t require any plastic, we get a little exercise doing the laundry, and it conserves water when we use our own shower water for the first part of the washing cycle, to just get the clothes wet. Try it for a week, and you’ll start thinking about the water, the soap, where it goes, and how often it actually needs to be done.

Mismatch your socks. 
We all know the laundry sock monster eats single socks and leaves you with solo socks lonely for a partner. Did you know that the new fashion is mismatched socks? Show off your zany side and celebrate diversity with socks of differing colors and patterns on your feet. They’ll keep your tootsies warm and dress up any boring outfit in seconds!
3 simple single sock reuses.
We all know about sock-hungry dryers. Well, we believe drawers are sock-eaters, too. Somehow socks go into dresser drawers in pairs but come out as singles, forever abandoning their sacred union. We started a special box of single socks a few months ago and decided it was high time we searched the house for all socks to take a full tally of the situation.

It was the perfect task for a 7 year old, searching through every drawer in the house and coming up with nearly 100 single socks! The laundry room coughed up a few more. Then, we got to work with our matching game. Thirty pair were reunited! But sadly, about 40 odd socks now have no mate. What to do? Whatever you do. Don't buy new ones. 

1) Put one over an ice pack in your freezer. It’ll protect your skin against that instant cold pack when you need one to quickly reduce swelling.

2) Save a few socks for your rag basket, for dusting and other fine-rubbing or polishing you might need to do on furniture or countertops.

3) Cut the toe section out and use your sock tube as a travel coffee mug cozy.
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