Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Being frugal (and green) with home water usage--laundry

This is the second of a three-part series on how to conserve water at home and save a bit of green as well. First post is here.

My first post talked about conserving water in the bathroom and included some unorthodox tips. This part will cover how to conserve water when washing laundry.

One way to reduce the number of loads of laundry done each week: do not wash anything unless it is dirty. I change my bath and hand towels once a week. Unless the towels are dropped on the floor, they are used to dry a clean body. No need to wash after every use. Bedding is changed every two weeks. There may be health issues in some households but this is how my mother did it and I can only see benefits to changing it every other week. I wear my jeans more than once before they hit the laundry basket. Same goes for shirts, sweaters, etc. unless food was spilled on the clothing. Most items of clothing (I exclude underwear) can be worn at least twice before needing to be washed. If your lunch ended up on you instead of in your mouth, please wash the clothes before wearing again. However, extending the life of clothes by washing fewer times saves you money, and washing three loads of laundry instead of five every week will save you money and water.

For washing clothes, I recommend a front-loading washer. It uses less water than a top-loading washer and gets them cleaner in my opinion. I also use an ice cream bucket to capture some of the rinse water. I use it to rinse dirty cat items in the basement or in the summer, to water plants outside. Be cautious how much is used on the plants. They may not like the diluted detergent. I usually capture two to five gallons of water for reuse. Storage of this graywater is not recommended, but I have not had an issue for the timeframe I use it (three to five days). Since I am also handling animal waste, I do wash my hands thoroughly and this may be good practice with the graywater as well.

The third post will conclude tomorrow with tips on how to conserve water in the kitchen and for use outdoors. Part 3 here.

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