Posts tagged "washing"

How can I reduce my use of our clothes dryer?

drying-socksThis “Reduce This” follows on from Tuesday’s “How can I make this?” question: “how can I make a outside washing line cover re-using/recycling stuff?“.

I read a lot of green/simple living blogs by people in the US and it amazes me, utterly amazes me when people say that their local homeowners association or the like doesn’t let them dry washing outside on washing lines. It seems crazy to me that people aren’t allowed to take advantage of the great solar and wind-powered dryer that is the big blue room.

If you can’t dry outside – because you’re not allowed or because you haven’t got any outside space – what do you do to avoid using an electricity-guzzling tumble dryer?

Do you have any tricks to speed up the drying process (extra spinning? ironing?)? Are retractable washing lines the way forward?

How can I make a washing line cover using recycled materials?

washing-lineBecause nothing particularly interesting has happened in my life over the last few weeks – I mean, aside from us moving house after nearly a decade in the old place and my best friend Katherine giving birth for the first time (*hello 14 day old baby Joe!*) – I have been unduly excited by the discovery of covers for outside rotary washing lines.

They’re big plastic covers which sit on rotary washing lines, preventing the clothes from getting re-soaked every time there is a sudden but brief downpour — there are some clear ones that can be left on all the time, ideal for the UK where it goes from blistering sunshine to torrential rain and back again constantly throughout the day. I tell you – unduly excited – I can’t believe I lived three decades without knowing about them. It’s like the broccoli stalks revelations all over again.

The basic concept seems simple enough to make myself from scrap materials – I need a sheet of heavy-duty but flexible waterproof material, ideally clear, in the shape of my rotary line, some extra length to be sides (to stop sideways rain) and possible some cane or piping at the edge between the “roof” and the sides to give it some structure. We got a new mattress when we moved in here and I’ve kept the giant plastic bag that came in, which is a good start, and I’m tempted to befriend a local carpet fitter for some more similar stuff, which they get wrapped around the rolls of carpet. An old tent or gazebo covering would probably work too. Any other suggestions?

Has anyone made something similar for non-rotary washing lines? Once my eyes were opened to the concept, I started Googling around and found these Isle of Mull dryers which combine the cover and the hanging space in an inverted V-shape. Any other ideas?

How can I reduce washing powder packaging?

washing-machinesWe’ve had our first Reduce This email! Lindsey from SwirlyArts/Cuteable wrote:

I buy eco friendly washing powder but it always comes in tiny boxes unlike the bigger brands which come in huge boxes. I don’t want to start buying the ‘normal’ brands of washing powder with less packaging but am concerned that I am buying lots of the smaller boxes.

I know that Ecover do larger boxes of washing powder but I tend to buy the supermarket brand of eco friendly washing powder. The boxes do get recycled but I want to try and reduce the number of boxes I buy.

From my experience, big boxes of Ecover are difficult to find – it’s strange they don’t do refill like the do with liquid cleaning products… They can be ordered online though (I’ve seen places offering 10kg sacks) and depending where you get them from, it might be comparable in cost to supermarket brand products – but of course then you have to think about the delivery footprint…

Anyone got any suggestions or ideas?

(On the subject of washing powders, Ethical Consumer have reviewed a range of laundry detergents on the market in terms of their environmental impact – interesting reading.)

How can I reuse or recycle laundry detergent/fabric softener bottles?

 We’ve had an email from Lisa, asking:

How can I reuse laundry detergent and fabric softener bottles?

I have a bunch piling up by my washing machine – the ones you pour, not with a spout on the side.

We’ve bulk bought fabric softener in the past and I’ve decanted it into a old, small bottle to make it easier to use – the giant bulk bottle could be stored out of the way in the cellar and the little bottle just refilled once a month. You can do the same thing with big boxes of powder – with handles, those pouring bottles are far easier to carry and use than a big box. They are also moisture tight so if the bottle is dry when you pour in the powder in the first place, it’s less likely to cake than in a cardboard box.

That’s only two bottles though – so what else can you do with them? Carolien Adriaansche makes them into cute creatures and many of the bottles that I see are nice colours or even pearlised, so you could use the plastic to make things like bold jewellery.

Any other suggestions?

How can I reuse or recycle used dryer sheets?

washing_machines250.jpgWearing our Compost This hat, we had an email from Beth Schreiber asking whether tumble dryer sheets can be composted.

I might be wrong but I believe the sheets are usually synthetic – but whether they are or not, I’d still be dubious about composting them because of the various chemicals they contain to do all the softening and scenting stuff.

But if composting is out, what else can be done with them?

I realise that tumble drying has its own implications for the environment but assuming it’s the only option, there is no point the sheets going to waste too. Beth’s interested in hearing alternatives to sheets too if anyone knows of any.

(For those that don’t know, the sheets are usually made of a thin material, about 20cm (8″) square and coated in chemicals to reduce static cling in the tumble dryer and to “freshen” the clothes.)

(Photo by solobirch)