Let the Water do the Work- Laundry Part 2

Do you ever have those moments when you realize that you have been saying something happened 5 years ago for the last 5 years?  Once upon a time, back in the day, sometime after I got rid of the dryer I was in a threaded conversation about laundry products, and I mentioned that I had quit using dryer sheets.  The conversation went on, and people were mainly talking about all of the newfangled stuff they use on their clothes to make them smell this way or that, the stuff they use to dispense said smelly stuff or stuff to get rid of this grime or that stain.  I lost track of the thread for a few days, and then someone commented on my comment.  She said she had quit using detergent…  say what?   She said that she lets the water do the work.  Huh.  Really?  How does that work? And she explained that the movement of the clothes by the agitator or around the drum in a front-loader basically works most of the dirt and stuff out of your clothes.  She went on to tell me that she quit having mood swings, her husband did too.  Headaches and other things that could be described as symptoms if you ever thought to put them all together just vanished after a few weeks.

By this point I was having dizzy spells quite regularly and hadn’t had much luck getting anything done about them.  This had to be several years ago now, as it has been two since I was diagnosed with Vertigo again…  and you know, this kind woman that happened to live in the next large city over helped more than any of the doctor’s have been able to.  So anyway,  I figured what could it hurt.  I gave it a whirl and left my bucket of laundry detergent next to the washer.  I could always go back to it if I needed to, right?

So  the first week I washed the clothes.  I still used my vinegar for fabric softener, and I figured it would kind of disinfect them if need be (I really don’t think I use enough for this purpose, but I still tell myself this anyway). I didn’t really notice a difference.  I hadn’t been using much soap anyway because I had decreased the amount until it left little to no lint on the lint filter of the dryer.  On a side note, if you are pulling out a bunch of lint with every load, use less detergent.  It is essentially excess detergent and small fibers of your clothes that are being beaten out of your clothes as they tumble around in the dryer.  Anyway,  the next week they looked a bit dingy, and since we still had more clothes that hadn’t been washed the third week was the same.  Now keep in mind we don’t own white clothes.  This is more related to hard water than anything, but I do have a softener, so it shouldn’t really be a problem.  The next week I noticed something happen.  The clothes all of a sudden didn’t look dingy anymore.  Every time I wind up dropping that line in a comment to someone I do a mental check of the clothes too…  they are still not dingy.  In fact, we no longer have stains much. .

So what about the other stuff?  Well,  I’ll tell ya.  My dizzy spells dropped from every day to 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off.  I quit having as many mood swings.  My kids stopped having as many mood swings.  And headaches.  And did I mention mood swings?  I never really thought about my kids as having them a whole lot.  But they do.  Saturdays are their detox days at this point.  They come home and most of the time immediately change clothes.  I really can’t handle the fragrance, so this means we can get laundry done and get it out of the house…. although I haven’t done as well at this since I started working Saturdays.  I might have to work on that.  Ideally I would wash those clothes separately so they don’t get the smell on everything else….  they do their laundry and reduce the fabric softener and stuff over there, but those clothes will still make the rest of the next 2 loads smell.  So anyway, maybe it is just me, but it is nice to have less of the teenage moodiness…  it didn’t keep it all from coming, but it is definitely less than what I have when they have been with all of the chemicals for a week.  And yes, in case you were wondering, I try to avoid going anywhere on Saturdays so I don’t have to deal with it too. lol.

Wishing you less stains and maybe a few extra bucks in your wallet,

~Going Green Mom

P.S. I did eventually give away the rest of the detergent to someone that didn’t like the idea of not using any.  :/  Maybe someday she will be ready.

A Little Air and Patience… Laundry Part 1

Clothes hanging to dry

When the kids were smaller, and before I had heard the term “sparking joy”, I used to have piles and piles of laundry because we had too many clothes and a ton of other stuff in the house. I guess you could say that my house tends to follow the state of my mind. One day I was super behind on laundry and climbing over Mt. Washmore I got really frustrated.  I had turned the dryer on for the 3rd time and I figured they would probably still be damp when it got done… but then what was I supposed to do?

We live in a trailer park.  We aren’t allowed to have clotheslines outside.  I didn’t really feel like I had time to hang dry clothes anyway.  But of course I have damp clothes and a dryer that isn’t working.  So I decided to figure out places to stick clothes hung up when they got done so they would actually get dry.  I really don’t remember how or where or what I used that time, but I do know that I ordered a retractable clothesline.  I just didn’t have the cash to go buy another dryer.  I had been through so many washers, dishwashers, and the like that I just didn’t want to get another appliance I didn’t feel like I could afford.  So what is a Mama with two little kids and a mountain of clothes to do?  Well,  I tested it out.  I found that it dried clothes in less time than the dryer had been!  Granted it was dry and hot inside because I had fans going and it was the middle of summer, but I was amazed.  I have had piles a few times since then…. usually accompanied by illness or poison sumac issues, but not very often.

That clothesline gave way from where it was anchored a year or two later (I might not be the best at stud finding).  I still didn’t get a dryer though.  I got some more hangers.  I added a tension rod in the bathroom, and actually started hanging the clothes up on hangers.  This worked amazing!   So the hangers let me hang more clothes in a smaller space since the linear amount was reduced to slightly more than the size of the hanger.  Space them about 2″ apart and you are good to go.  You have air flow, and do you know what my kids did after a bit? “Can we leave our shirts hung up Mom?” It was actually about a year later I imagine, and they are used to hanging everything at their Dad’s.  This frustrated me.  Why does it have to be like it is at his house?  We’ve always folded our shirts here. But I was taking time to fold all of their clothes after they dried.  And did I mention we hung the clothes on hangers to dry in the first place?  Huh…  but we don’t have enough hangers…..  Enter the first culling of the clothes.  My daughter let go of so much, and still had way to many.  And my son let go of none…  and had plenty, probably enough for if he lived here full time. So she had some go into hiding, and they each had a set amount of hangers.  And within 2 months she had worked through all of the hidden piles by letting go of things she didn’t want anymore.  She has since sorted from more of a KonMari aspect and is at a very tight capsule wardrobe.  I think she has 5 or 6 t-shirts and just as many hoodies— mostly Pokemon costume hoodies. 🙂  She is totally inspiring my move toward a uniform, but I will deal with my closet in a different post.

So we got rid of the dryer.  Got rid of the pile because when you dry 3 loads at a time and plan ahead to have things dry when you need them you also tend to have time to fold and put them away.  We got rid of a lot of the folding as well.  And last but definitely not least, we got rid of dryer sheets.  Dryer sheets are full of chemicals that do a number on our bodies, on our dryers, and on our clothes.  I didn’t notice a ton of difference in my body with this, but I did notice some changes in our clothes.  We started using vinegar as a fabric softener in the washing machine fabric softener compartment, so our clothes are still fairly soft and static just really isn’t an issue when you don’t add heat and rub your clothes together.

So what did we gain?  We gained space—  from the walkway where we had the piles, the place we had the dryer, dresser drawers where we had clothes shoved, and from the passing on of clothes we no longer wanted.  We gained a bit of patience from the process of waiting for clothes to dry so we can wear them.  We gained a little money from the energy we saved, and from buying 1 less item for maintaining the household.

I know it seems crazy to question such a basic thing, but sometimes when something breaks it can truly be a blessing.  Join me next week for the second part of my journey when I learned how to let the water do the work.

~Going Green Mom

Going Green with the K.I.S.S principle

While fixing the issues with the website and email stuff I had several tech support people that were awesome to talk to.  One of them started asking questions while she waited for things to go through, and I found it is a conversation I have had with lots of people when they hear my screen name (and in this case website address).  So let’s start with a couple of things. 1.  No I didn’t take this name because I was cutting chemicals out of my life, but I have done that.  2. I don’t sell anything that is going to make your life greener (surprised?).  Now that we are done with that, on to the fun stuff.

Most people have heard some explanation of KISS…  I will go with the Keep It Simple Sweetie version, as I have outlawed the other common word in my house.  Don’t talk badly about yourself because you teach other people how to treat you, and for goodness sake, don’t talk badly about others either.  So, What does the KISS principle have to do with Going Green?  Well, usually the greenest option is going to be one of the simplest.  It might seem like a crazy idea considering how many things there are to buy, most promising to save the environment by planting trees or saving wildlife if you buy their product.  When I chose my screen name green washing wasn’t a thing- yet.  The only cleaner that had claims on being environmentally friendly was probably Simple Green, and most people had never even heard of it.

Keeping it simple in my life often means looking to what was used before the industrial revolution changed this country so much.  This isn’t because I have issues with products, but because often people that were here were using something for any of the “needs” that we have, at least in terms of keeping house or basic life skills.  Most of those needs were filled with techniques, tools, or something that could be found a) easily, b) inexpensively, and c) locally.  I know.  Strange concept, to think that we wouldn’t find something on that magical internet shopping center…  and actually, I have looked for my cleaning products on that site, incredibly more expensive that at my local stores.  So what do I use, you ask?  Vinegar, Baking Soda, Peroxide, Dr. Bronner’s soap, and a few essential oils (I am NOT brand specific).

Vinegar can be purchased at any of my local grocery stores for no more than 4 dollars a gallon (I normally pay about $2.60).  The exception to this being if you want to buy organic apple cider vinegar that still has the mother.  I do buy it by the gallon, and I buy it in plastic jugs.  I reuse some of those jugs, and recycle the rest.  There are lots of tutorials on making vinegar on youtube….  I haven’t been that brave yet.  I use vinegar in my wash- this is the only thing I use in my wash.  I was once told that I could let the water do the work, and I gave it a whirl…. and it worked.  I did throw the vinegar in as I figured it would help disinfect somewhat and also works as a fabric softener. I hang dry my clothes, so I was already not using the sheets anymore.  I also use vinegar as needed for mopping, and cutting grease, and in place of typical spray type household cleaners.  Sometime I will track down the study, but after lots of reading it seems to be somewhat common knowledge that vinegar is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal….  with one of the 3 being a bit less than bleach but the others being about the same as.  That is good enough for me.  It also works well for washing windows, and I keep meaning to try the vinegar on car windows makes them not frost trick, but I guess I will wait another year to try it as we are finally above freezing most mornings here.  There are books out there about vinegar if you need more uses, but a browse through pinterest or google yield hundreds of options too.  If you don’t like the smell you can water it down, or throw some in a jar with citrus peels and it will smell like your citrus cleaners instead. Just be aware that combo can remove paint or any variety of sticky mess, so be careful about the surfaces you use it on.  If you have granite or marble counters, do not use vinegar on them.

Baking soda is the heavy hitter abrasive type cleaner.  It doesn’t damage surfaces, and I am sure someone can explain better than I, but it really doesn’t scratch things while you clean with it.  I use this on things like the toilet bowl, the stovetop and oven, sticky stuff that needs to come off of something (think stickers or label residue), and once you are done a spritz of vinegar will get rid of any remaining baking soda.  I am trying to think of other things I use this for, and am not really coming up with anything…   it works well in the tub on soap scum or dried on drips from the shampoo/conditioner dispenser.  This can be made into a paste with a little water, sprinkled on a surface, or sprinkled on a damp towel and then used.  Just keep it simple.  I have found the cheapest way to buy this is in a large bag or box (5 lbs?) at a time…  found with the swimming pool supplies during spring, summer, and early fall.

Peroxide is for blood.  It is really the only stain we occasionally have anymore…  mainly because I am not the most graceful, but also because my kids unfortunately inherited that trait from me as well.  I just keep a spray bottle in the bathroom and if someone gets a nosebleed or cuts themselves, rinse with cold water and spray whatever clothing it is on with peroxide…. after whatever you need to do first aid wise of course. lol.  Available from your local pharmacy or supermarket, this is almost always sold in smallish brown bottles.  They are recyclable, but I haven’t found it available in other formats.

Dr. Bronner’s soap- honestly this just goes in our foaming hand soap dispensers that I have been reusing for years.  I use like a 1:8? ratio of soap to water, and add a couple drops of whatever essential oil smells good that day.  Usually a citrus or mint, or both.  They do have already scented varieties out, and most of my local health food stores and coop have it available in at least 2 or 3 scents.  At least a few have it available as bulk and you can refill your own bottle or container from their bigger one.

Another cleaning product tip I have found helpful I picked up from my Dad.  Like dissolves like.  If I am trying to clean a greasy buildup off my backsplash or the vent hood on the stove, it is much easier to add a little oil to my vinegar than to just use the vinegar alone.

The last bit of advice I had for my tech support person as she was mulling over the fact that I basically have 4 items doing all of my cleaning tasks…  look at what you use and search for how to replace it.  If you look at your cabinets and you aren’t using the products to begin with—- they really don’t need to be replaced, just get rid of them.

Just go one step at a time…  it really can be that simple.  Promise.

Going Green Mom