A few weeks ago we have been approached by Blogging Edge to take part in a seemingly simple challenge – not to use our washing machine for a week. I have promptly agreed, but the more I thought about it the more my hair started to raise on my head. A week without washing machine?! I think we’ve been given a few weeks notice to get mentally ready for what’s to come…And come up with ways to wash less clothes!
Our washing habits
There’s only three of us (and the bump), but the washing is endless. Pre-baby I used to do one wash day. I’d run 4 loads (including towels and bedding), hang it in the garden on a sunny day and I’d be done for the week. Now my washing machine runs at least once a day. And I don’t do half loads, not to waste water and energy, it’s always full.
With the colder months I can only do one wash a day, as this is how much space I have on heaters in the house, so I don’t see the bottom of wash basket until spring.
When preparing for this challenge I have looked online for inspiration and to see how other people live. Googling things like ‘how long do you wear your jeans’ – interesting stuff really. There seems to be a big range of how many times people re-wear their clothes, or how often they change their bedding. After reading this I thought I’d clarify our habits.
I change towels and bedding once a week
Daddy and I use the same pyjamas for a few nights, but Little F gets a fresh one every night (it gets dirty during breakfast and usually has a faint smell of wee)
we wear our trousers a few times before washing, the toddler is again the exception, as most days there are too many stains to wear his clothes the next day
jumpers and over-clothes get a few wears (I have a smell to check if they need a wash)
exception to re-wearing rule are trousers and tops which stretch when worn and need to be washed to get back into shape; I have a pair of exceptionally comfortable maternity jeans, but by the end of the day they are so stretched they need constant pulling up
I hang things to air to freshen them up
I’ll use perfume or a couple of drops of essential oils to refresh a top (we’re not talking b.o. here, but maybe cooking smells)
big addition to washing pile is Daddy’s work clothes; he works in construction, so when he gets home he changes out of dirty work clothes and into clean clothes, plus he uses 3 pairs of socks a day (and we’re talking big thick ones)
We have started the challenge with the basket at it’s normal level – about a third full:
By the end of the week you could barely see the basket behind the piles of overspilling washing…
How to wash less clothes
The ‘one week without washing machine’ challenge really made me think what more I can do to reduce the amount of washing. Here’s a few ideas and tricks I came up with on top of what we are already doing (see above):
scrape or scratch off small stains, like dried up yoghurt or porridge (all mums do, don’t they?)
revert back to plastic bibs or painting aprons to protect clothes during meal times – this way my toddler might wear something for a couple of days. My toddler wasn’t crazy about this idea, but we did manage to put the apron on a few times, which saved a couple of tops.
my friend suggested wearing an old fashioned pinny around the house, for me and my toddler, but we didn’t go that far
use apron in the kitchen – it does save clothes from oily and tomato stains (especially now that my belly is protruding and resting against kitchen counter when chopping)
All this put together has helped to reduce the amount of washing we go through. We will keep up with most of the changes, for the sake of saving energy and water, and saving me from unnecessary chores (really handy with a baby on the way)..
If you’re feeling dirty – some hygiene advice
If you are not sure or don’t trust your judgment on how often things should be washed here’s some useful links:
Do I need to wash this? – thorough advice from cleaning institute on how often particular garments should be washed
A quick list – from pop sugar if you don’t have time for a longer read
What we learnt after a week without washing machine
I’m really glad we took part in this experiment, though it was stressful to watch the wash pile grow, as it has meant we are making lasting changes in our lives. Changes, which are very quickly becoming second nature. The added advantage of not washing things too often is saving the clothes – frequent washing damages fabric.
Not having the washing machine for a week really made me think what a great invention it is and how it liberated women. Invention of washing machine transformed women’s lives, by giving them back the time and energy usually taken up by washing. Now they could focus on other things – like fighting for their rights and getting educated.
My final thought is that I hope we’ll get some dry and windy days so I can do extra washing and hang it outside to dry, otherwise we’ll have an extra large pile of washing with us for a while…
Have you got any tips on how to wash less clothes? I’d love to hear from you, so do leave me a comment or get in touch on Twitter (@mumbalance).
PS. I have written this post as a part of competition run by Ransom Spares (a family run UK business) in collaboration with Blogging Edge. I am not being paid for this post, however we may win an eco-friendly washing machine (fingers crossed!).