Since I wrote these leaflets in 1989, many products are claiming to be "environmentally friendly." But we should take the trouble to keep ourselves well-informed & up-to-date. Few laundry & cleaning products are truly environmentally friendly, and the first line of defence for the environment is still to use as little as possible. We also need to research the ingredients of any product we plan to use. The wholesale use of bicarbonate of soda, either as an additive, or a filler, in any product DOES NOT MAKE IT ENVIRONMENTALLY SAFE! Bicarb soda, & any other sodium salt is still salt, & will sooner or later find their way into our soils, further increasing salinity & damaging soil structure.
For a list of sodium content of some popular products, go to LANFAXLABS.COM.AU
For further research, a comprehensive database of the composition of household products can be found at:

Fresh as a Daisy - Part One


You will need:
PURE SOAP, (If you can, avoid soaps made from Palm Oil. Toilet soaps usually have a lower Ph. than laundry soap, and there are many unscented or naturally scented varieties available.)

** Note**Unlike soap & soda, household ammonia does not damage soil structure & is a nitrogenous fertiliser.
Use with care, & avoid avoid inhaling fumes.

The following simple steps will dramatically reduce the amount of washing you need to do each wash day:-
Most clothes do not need washing after one wearing. Wear clothes suitable for your task, keeping best clothes for best, work clothes for work. Change when you get home. Shake your clothes when you take them off, then hang them up to air. Remove spots & stains. Check the pockets.
For temporary protection from food, dirt, & splashes, use an apron or old shirt over your clothes.

Handwash socks & underwear daily using a very little bar soap only if necesssary. Soak smelly socks overnight in a litre of water & 2 teaspoons Bicarb. soda. Wash next day, putting a dash of vinegar or lemon juice in the rinse.

Strip & air beds & bed linen daily. Hang wet towels, bathmats & face-washers out to air dry immediately after use.
Back to Water Saving Tips

The main wash

If you do not have a rainwater tank you may want to soften your tap water - see Water Softeners

The night before wash-day, inspect each article for stains. Remove them (If you remove these when they occur, or when doing a daily check, this will not take long) then sort laundry into whites, pastels, coloured, & dark colours.
Soak each overnight in soft water. Articles that are not colourfast should be soaked separately in a small bowl.

In the morning, lift out the whites, wring lightly, & place in the washing machine. Rub badly soiled places with laundry soap. Then pour most of the soaking water into the machine, taking care not to disturb the dirt that has settled in the bottom of the container during the night. (It's amazing just how much dirt is removed by the soaking process!)
Top up the machine with water poured off the pastels, & more clean water if necessary. If clothes are heavily soiled, add one cup of bicarbonate of soda, or laundry ammonia - the water should feel slippery when you rub your fingers together.
(You can of course wash everything by hand if you have no machine.)

FOR AUTOMATIC MACHINES Save the suds. Put wash through rinse cycles as usual, adding a cup of vinegar or strained lemon juice to the final rinse.

Spin the soapy water back into the wash-tub. Remove clothes from spin-dryer, rinse thoroughly in soft water, wring lightly & re place in spin-dryer. Spin. Pour a bucket of water containing a cup of vinegar or strained lemon juice onto the clothes in the dryer & spin again.

Whichever method you use, take clothes to outside line, & hang out, shaking each article well, and turning inside out before pegging out.
Repeat the operation for each group of articles.

Save the really sudsy dirty water for flushing the loo (use a bucket, not the cistern!!) - I often use it to wash the floors first. The rest can go on the garden. Since some of the rinsing water contains vinegar or lemon juice, this will help prevent damage to soil structure caused by soap & soda residues. (So will mulching with organic materials.)

Soap & soap powders, if used like soapless detergents, will eventually gum up your washing machine. Using vinegar or lemon juice in the rinsing water will help this to happen more slowly, but it WILL happen.

This is another good reason to use ammonia rather than soap powder. (A little laundry soap rubbed onto stains won't hurt)
Also, if you live in a district where the tap water is very hard, alkaline, or saline, either use rainwater, or install a water softener, to keep your washing machine pump functioning.

Water Softeners
Most Water Softeners work by replacing the calcium and magnesium in the water with sodium. They may also remove a small amount of iron or manganese. Environmentally safer alternatives are magnetic water conditioner, or catalytic conditioners. Back

Radical Handwashing
Wash small items by putting them in a bowl of rainwater in the sun until the water is warm. This short-circuits the soaking process. Using this method you often don't need any soap or detergent. It works best if the receptacle is dark in colour - you can cover the top with clear plastic or an old window in cooler weather.
I put large items go into a huge black hydroponics flowerpot and use a drain plunger/unstopperer on a broomstick as a 'dolly'. I wring sheets and other large items by folding them in half round a post and then twisting.
Since I no longer have a vehicle, I can't use the time-honoured trick of sealing the wash in a dustbin and leaving it in the boot while driving to town on an unsealed road!


Note: In researching & answering questions about earthwise living, Margaret offers information, opinion, & personal experience, but no quick fixes! Readers should evaluate these offerings in the context of their own situations; they are suggestions, *not* recommendations. Any responsibility for their implementation rests *solely* with the reader.

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