Friday, October 23, 2009

For the Love of Laundry

Fluffy laundry

When I had my own laundry room and a clothesline I loved laundry. Seriously, it was my favourite chore. I think my love of laundry started with cloth diapering and just grew from there. I was always looking for greener methods to keep our clothes looking good and clean. I made my own scented waters for ironing, had baskets of things for stain removal and even started to enjoy ironing. And hanging clothes on the line? That was my favourite thing ever on a nice day, it was soothing. And it was contagious, our college kid boarder liked to hang his clothes on the line as well. So relaxing.
But now that we are crammed into an apartment across the country from my old home I dread laundry day. No longer do I look forward to any of it particularly the trips on the elevator. It is so small here and everything is so crammed that I can't keep baskets of stain removal tools and jugs of distilled water for my iron. Evrything is condensed, even my clothesline. Now I have a collapsible rack and a couple clothespin rings that just don't work the same because of the amount of wind the balcony blocks. It takes up to two days to dry the heavier diapers and sweaters. Sometimes I just don't have that kind of time. I need my diapers now! (Well, not now so much as we are int he thick of potty learning, another post for another time.)
As I look over at the mountain of laundry I cringe at the thought of sitting there folding it just to start again in a couple days time. I long for my laundry room and clothesline. But what can we do? We can do what we can.
I still use ECOS laundry detergent which lasts for freakin' ever, smells good and works on both cloth diapers and clothing. I still abhor the use of fabric softener and dryer sheets. I used wool dryer balls that I made myself. I use baking soda and vinegar with my diapers. And I hang what I can out on the balcony.But it is just not the same. especially at $3.10 a load! Sigh.
But, for those of you who are looking to make your laundry routines greener or just plain better smelling, I will share with you my favourite things.

ECOS laundry detergent. I buy it in a 6L container and it washes some 215 loads in a HE machine. Even in my old top loader it lasted a long time because it suds up really nice in hot water. I think I used to pay eighteen dollars for the jug but recently found it for fourteen. That works out to less than seven cents a load. I buy one jug every six months. That is thirty dollars a year. that is awesome for someone who does as much laundry as me. I have a carpenter hubby and a cloth diapered babe, I do a lot of laundry! Speaking of cloth diapers, some websites don't recommend it because of the soy fabric softener in it but it has never hinder the absorption of my diapers and I am going on a year and a half of washing with it.

In lou of fabric softener I use a combination of white vinegar and baking soda because with diapers they also help to combat bacteria and odour. I find when you hang things like denim and terry on a line you will always have a crunch regardless of how much commercial softener you use. I found ironing helped to soften cotton right up. that or toss your air dried clothes int he dryer for a couple-ten minutes. Softens them up in a jiffy with less than a tenth of the power used to dry.

To keep static to a minimum when using your dryer, dry synthetic fabrics separately. When I dry my diapers I get absolutely no static because the bulk of the items are cotton and/or hemp. The microfibre inserts and PUL do not seem to affect the static levels probably due to the sheer outweighing of the natural fibres. Dryer balls are also great because they keep the clothes moving for air flow therefor leaving your clothes int he dryer for less time. I made three in a half hour using this tutorial from Goodmama.

For stain removal I had a basket that had things like peroxide (for blood), rubbing alcohol (for ink) laundry soap in a dish soap dispenser for stains that required a lather, tooth brushes and embroidery hoops (to isolate the stain and keep fabric taught). This basket was a big help and it made it really easy to attack the stain as soon as it happened. (Unlike now where sometimes I forget and the item gets washed and dried and the stain is there forever.)I read a great book called Clean House by Alison Haynes. I highlighted green cleaning recipes, post it noted pages about organization and probably read it in two days. I also kept in in my laundry room for quick reference. I recommend it, and if not that one I recommend buying a book to keep on hand to help you take care of your things.

I read that to prolong the life of your iron (or at least the steam function) it is best to use distilled water. I bought a 4L jug while grocery shopping and left it in my laundry room so no one would use it. I think it cost me less than two dollars. I used it for both my iron and a bottle of laundry scented water that I kept in a spray bottle for ironing and linen refreshing. Here is the recipe originally posted at

Linen Water

1/4 cup vodka (price does not matter as long as it is 80 proof, and rubbing alcohol works too)
10-20 drops essential oil*
2 cups distilled water **

Mix vodka and oil first...the vodka is an emulsifier...then add the water.

*your choice of scent, but it must be an "essential oil"...these can be purchased at a Health Food Store.

**must use distilled, chlorinated water will kill the essential oil scent

I put it in some Christian LaCroix designed water bottles that I bought for the design. Because my iron manufacturer specifically stated not use linen waters in my iron I put it in a spray bottle to use while ironing.

When the babe was sleeping and I had the time to just hang out in my laundry doing laundry things like ironing, I brought my laptop with me and caught up on Bones and Criminal Minds. Who doesn't want to watch David Boreanez while doing chores?

Speaking of chores, I must go do mine alas sans Mr. Boreanaz.