We’ve been experimenting with more sustainable ways of doing laundry for several reasons.
First, we want to be prepared and know how to do laundry if we ever find ourselves without modern conveniences. This could happen living overseas in an outreach situation, or be forced upon us by natural or man-made disasters.
Second, on our new off-grid homestead electrical power will be harder to come by. We hope to produce our own power with a generator, inverter, and batteries, and as soon as possible add solar panels. We’ll increase as we are able to, but at first the power budget will be small.
The third reason we are learning more sustainable ways of doing laundry is to save money and natural resources. More and more of us are being affected by the struggling economy, and it causes us to consider saving resources in deeper ways.
Did you know that a large capacity top-loading washer uses about 40 gallons of water per laundry load?! The washer uses electricity (or gas) during the entire cycle, and you are also either running a well pump which takes a lot of current, or increasing your water utility bill. A large front loading washer uses only about 12 gallons per load. But the longer cycles take constant current, and up-front and maintenance costs are greater.
With a family of eight, laundry is a major deal. With six or seven large loads of laundry each week, we’ve been using around 280 gallons of water weekly or over 1,000 gallons monthly. America is one of the few places where such excesses are winked at.
We recently purchased two Mobile Washers (Hand Operated Washing Machines). They are plungers made specifically to push and suck water through fabric. We haven’t had them long enough yet to make final judgments, but we’ve made some good observations. One large load of laundry takes less than six gallons of water (being liberal)! That’s only around 160 gallons monthly! Peanuts!!
With the clothes floating loosely, this mobile washer normally needs to be plunged only about 60 seconds to get the clothes clean! Really dirty clothes take more. The sucking action draws water through the fabric with enough force that it dislodges the dirt with almost no wearing friction on the clothes, meaning our clothes should last longer as well.
Washing and rinsing is a cinch. But removing water from the clothes is a problem we haven’t yet solved. It’s hard work and time consuming wringing everything by hand, and then it’s still way too wet to dry efficiently in the humid Florida climate. We’ve looked at hand wringers, but none of them look very efficient for large loads of clothing, and they cost more than a good used electric dryer! Where is a good heavy duty wringer that will stand rigorous daily use?
One option may be a Charming Spinner or a Centrifugal Clothes Portable Spin Dryer which are compact machines that spin out about half a large load at a time at 3200RPMs in about 2-3 minutes. They are electric, but take little current and only for a few minutes to make the clothes as dry as they would get in a dryer in 30 minutes.
Becoming sustainable is going to be a journey, so your tips are appreciated!