Monday, November 26, 2012

How To Do Laundry Without Heat

We use an energy efficient washer that does not have hot water connected to it, and no dryer at all. I decided not to connect the hot water because I felt that if the hot water was connected, I would eventually find a reason to use it. There are good reasons to use hot water, for instance, when someone gets poison ivy. Hot water could also be good for greasy/oily clothes, but my washer says not to put that stuff in it anyway. That reasoning also applies to the dryer. If I had one I would definitely use it - cold weather, rain, pressed for time.

I don't have a standard clothesline yet, just a piece of thin rope tied between two posts on the outbuilding. I also have an awesome drying rack that I usually set up outside, but I can put it in the garage/upstairs in inclement weather. I am not interested in putting a clothesline up indoors as we currently live in a very small apartment above our garage, but as we expand our living quarters, I would like to put a retractable line in. I would also like one of those built-in cubby clothes racks that you put above your washer. Lehman's has them.

To wash clothes in an efficient washer, I've read that liquid detergents should not be used as they contain animal fats that build up in the washer. I'm writing this, but it's so hypocritical of me at this point - I'm trying to use up the liquid detergent we got when we had to do our clothes at the laundrymat. I have, however, purchased a bar of Zote, washing soda, borax, and liquid bluing. I don't have any white vinegar yet, but I will buy some as soon as I can remember. We always have Ivory soap or homemade soap available.

There are many recommendations for mixing Ivory, washing soda, and borax to make washing powders all over the internet. Vinegar is put in the rinse cycle to make clothes softer and clean out the machine. I cannot put bleach in my clothes because of the type of septic that I have, but bleach is often used to get whites whiter. I would have to put out clothes in a dishpan in a bleach solution and empty it out in the yard. Fortunately, I have very few whites, so I haven't even had to try the bluing yet. When using bleach, borax, and vinegar, be aware that the pH levels of these chemicals can react to each other. Only put vinegar in the rinse cycle - it will react with borax in the wash cycle.
  • To add vinegar for softening, fill the softener cup with it, or add 1 to 2 cups in the rinse cycle.
  • Washing powder - one bar finely grated soap, one cup soda, one cup borax. Add one heaping Tablespoon to wash in efficient machine. Adjust levels and use amount to suit your needs. UPDATE: I have been using homemade soap since this post, and it has worked as well as the liquid detergent. I have had no problem with the bad smells in my washer that others have reported from use of liquid detergents.
How to Sort Clothes:
Who cares about colors? Put all the colors together (as long as you wash new clothes with similar or darker colors a couple of times) EXCEPT real whites or very light colors. They might not pick up color from other articles, but they will pick up lint.
Lint control is the real key to sorting clothes. Here are the load types:
  • High Lint - Socks, unhemmed rags, and towels. Wash socks separately from towels if you have enough of them. 
  • Moderate lint - Jeans, flannel, fleece, sweaters, sweatshirts. Wash sweatshirts separately if you have enough. Sweatshirts deposit lint, but they also attract it. You may end up buying a lint roller. This category will likely take you a few laundry days to perfect.
  • Light lint - T-shirts and lightweight knits like polos can be washed together. Also good for cotton underpants and long underpants.
  • Very light lint - fine woven fabrics like cotton and synthetics - shirts and slacks, cotton sheets.
  • (We don't own many synthetics, so I don't have any special instructions.)
Special washing tips: 
  • Put a microfiber cloth (available at automotive supply) in with the laundry. It will pick up lint.
  • It is usually best to put in laundry detergent before you put in the clothes.
  • Always check all pockets!
How to dry clothes:
Don't let them sit around. The wrinkles will set up very quickly.
As you take them out of the washer, give each piece a quick shake and lie it flat in the basket, working as quickly as possible. The weight of the clothes on top will work out some of the wrinkles from washing. To "Snap" clothes, hold each article at the top, hold it above your head, and "snap" it downward quickly.
  • Jeans: Zip and button, put pockets in. Snap four times, hang on clothesline. 
  • T-Shirts, Polos, sweatshirts, other jersey-type knits: Button any buttons, zip any zippers, pockets in. Snap twice, hang on hanger. Button any buttons you needed to have open to get the thing on the hanger, arrange it so the shoulder seams match up with the hanger, arrange all collars the way you want them to look when dry.
  • Socks, long underpants, and underpants: Smack against something a few times, your leg is fine. Otherwise, snap. Hang on dryer.
  • Button-ups and lightweight cotton: Special care needed. Put on hanger. Button everything, arrange collars, snap twice, then pull each seam and section at the longest point of the garment to make it as wrinkle-free as possible. (Example - shoulder in one hand, cuff in the other. Pull.) Hang on line between clothespins. If you pull seams well, you can almost eliminate ironing.
  • Towels: Towels are special. Want the softest towels you can get without a dryer? Find a post (or similar) with neither rust not splinters that has a hard edge. Grasp the long ends of the towels, one end in each hand, and run the towel across the hard edge. The way cartoon characters dry themselves after a bath. This will loosen the nap. If the nap is down and wrinkled, they will look the same after drying, except they will be hard and stiff.
Most clothes will look the same when you hang them up as when you take them down, so take care. Also, if you can get to clothes, especially jeans and towels, when they are half-dry, give them a couple of snaps, and hang them up in reverse, you will get better results. Snap clothes again a couple of times when taking down to take out any stiffness that may be left. Any wrinkles left in jeans should lie down when folded and put in the drawer.

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