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7 DO ALL LAUNDRY BY HAND

This action focuses on reducing the amount of water needed for laundry by doing all washing by hand.

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why?

The average washing machine uses 42 gallons per load.
-EPA

When washing machines were first designed, water often had to be carried and heated over a fire before being used. Thus, washing machines were designed to be more water efficient than hand-washing water, reusing water over again for progressively more dirty laundry. However, as running water became a modern convenience, the design of washing machines responded by using more and more water as it became more easily available.

Doing laundry today uses as much as 42 gallons per load, or 22% of the average household's water consumption(EPA). Although washing machines are now made to be as low as 28 gallons per load, this is still a large percentage of household water use. This action focuses on controlling the amount of water which is used to wash clothes by returning to hand washing.


how to do this action:

In order to effectively hand wash a load of laundry it is interesting to consider how a washing machine currently accomplishes the task. The washing machine fills the tub up with water and agitates it with the center agitator for awhile. After that, it drains all the water out by spinning it into the side holes and refills to rinse the clothes, and spins again. Handwashing can take a similar approach of agitating the laundry after letting it soak for awhile, then rinsing and agitating again before a final rinse.

Here is how it could be done:

  • (1) Dump in 1/8 cup of laundry detergent.

  • (2) Fill a five gallon bucket of water with four gallons of hot water (pouring water over the detergent helps to make it sudsy).

  • (3) Add clothes.

  • (4) Let clothes soak for an hour.

  • (5) Stomp on clothes. Stomp until all clothes are flattened in the bucket then move them around again and re-stomp (water is still warm after an hour so it's kind of nice).

  • (6) Mash up clothes with hands (this is actually an excellent stress reliever if you really get into it).

  • (7) Dump wash water, unless reusing as gray water.

  • (8) Refill four gallons with room temp water and mash the clothes again, a lot. This gets all the soap out.

  • (9) Refill one more time (only to the level needed) and dump (total of three fills is about 12 gallons).

  • (10) Hang clothes in the tub on a line. The clothes will be really wet (not like when you take them out of the washer and they've gone through a spin cycle), so they need to be wrung out and put in a place they can drip for awhile.

It is actually quite gratifying to see all the dirty water going down the drain. Typically, when washing our clothes in a washing machine we never see how dirty our wash water actually is. Washing by hand shows more clearly the task that was accomplished!

Quite a bit of energy can also be saved doing laundry by hand.

To compare, a typical washing machine uses:

  • 4.5 kWh/load on hot/warm cycle
  • 3.5 kWh/load on warm/warm cycle
  • 2.8 kWh/load on hot/cold cycle
  • 1.9 kWh/load on warm/cold cycle
  • 0.3 kWh/load on cold/cold cycle

The only energy being used in hand washing is to heat the 12 gallons of water used. It is important to note that all other energy, is your own! It is fulfilling to use your hands to do a task that before many have only let machines do for them, and it is empowering to feel that we are capable of accomplishing this task just as well!

Some large items will be difficult to wash by hand such as bedding and towels. Try to wash all possible items by hand, waiting for a full load of large-item laundry before running the washing machine. If you can't wait, always make sure to select the correct water level for each load. Newer models of washing machines also do a better job of cleaning your clothes using less water and when you start shopping for one, remember that a front-loading washing machine uses about 1/3 less water than a top-loading machine.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: How much water can be saved when doing all laundry by hand rather than using a washing machine?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of doing all laundry by hand affect your happiness, convenience, health and costs?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (WTR7_BASELINE) to determine how many gallons are used for each load of laundry. A typical (non-energy star) top-loading washing uses 30-40 gallons of water, whereas a front loader uses 10-24 gallons. Energy Star machines use 10-20 gallons. Keep track of how many loads of laundry are done thorughout the baseline tracking week.

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (WTR7_BASELINE) as it relates to your current laundry habits:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
Use the corresponding spreadsheet (WTR7_QUANTITATIVE) to keep track of the number of ‘loads’ of laundry you did each week during the project (small, medium or large). For each size of load, keep track of how much water is being used (for both washing and rinsing).

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria weekly on the spreadsheet (WTR7_QUALITATIVE). Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences as you implement this action and how it has affected your life. Some of the following questions might be helpful as you reflect upon your experiences.

What was your experience of hand-washing all laundry? What did you enjoy about it? What were the struggles? What kind of process did you develop? Did you find that you were able save water doing laundry by hand? What kinds of design/infrastructure changes would have made adopting this lifestyle change easier? What would you suggest to future participants?


resources

ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

WTR7_Do All Laundry By Hand Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

WTR7_BASELINE
WTR7_QUANTITATIVE
WTR7_QUALITATIVE