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The myths of sustainable laundry washing

Washing your dirty laundry rather randomly seems to be the one household chore in which everyone has a horror story or two to tell.

My own personal disaster story is of my dad (my parents were divorced when I was 4) washing a very expensive and borrowed grey Champion hoodie, along with a rather pretty maroon top (mine!). Low and behold, when the wash was finished, the once grey hoodie had turned a rather fetching pink. Being only 13, my world fell apart after my dad outright refused to get my friend a new hoodie. In hindsight I can understand the decision, I was a very annoying adolescent that caused my parents enough worries and in the grand scheme of things, the jumper was really just a very, very, VERY small drop in a gigantic ocean. 

So, from a young age I learned the importance of separating colours before loading the wash. From there I picked up a few more learnings in my washing career. 

For example; “if you don’t have double glazed windows and it gets cold in the winter, use your dryer before going to bed, it runs on a cheaper tariff and also heats up the room” or if you don’t want to use a dryer (they cost a fair chunk of energy, whilst eating your clothes) run the “spin” program and squeeze out more water from your wash. Not too bad given that I learned them myself, the autodidact wash lady!

However, I went through some very steep learning curves on my washing journey when my son was born. Suddenly no washing detergent was good enough for his delicate skin - thank you marketing!

So now, not only was the machine, the colour separation, the program and the spin time important, but there was also the added complexity of which product to use. Previously, I would just buy the brand that was on sale but now there was so much more to consider. So I started a new list, no harsh chemicals, no heavy perfumes, no plastic packing and that landed me on the “bio or non-bio” washing quest.

So, what does non-bio washing detergent actually mean? 

Normal biological washing powder contains enzymes as does the liquid version. The enzymes are there to break down fat (on your clothes), grease and proteins, to get your wash smelling fresh and clean. These little fellas are great for getting rid of stains but they are not that friendly to your clothes, as they can damage wood and other materials, like silk. Plus, skin wise it might upset some of us suffering from eczema or the delicate skin of a baby. 

On the other hand, there is non-bio, which does not contain the enzymes and is therefore, generally speaking, gentler and a better choice for skin and clothes. But are they also gentler and kinder on the environment? That is up for discussion..

This conundrum took me on a new quest, in order to answer the all important question…. “what products are good for skin, clothes AND the environment? 

And this is when I stumbled upon, drum roll please…. Simple Living Laundry Sheets. A vegan, cruelty-free, plastic-free solution that does not break the bank. 

These all-natural and biodegradable laundry detergent sheets are made from plant-derived ingredients so no chemicals, no additives and no dyes, and no nasty footprint behind. 

If you are like us, Lyndsay and Annemarie, and have the luck of overpaying for housing and enjoying hard water (hi London!) we advise that for for a heavy load or stains, you add some Sodium Bicarbonate (ordinary baking soda) to the machine. This handy little trick helps to kill bacteria, which is essential for doing baby washes on a low temp!

 

Whilst we’re on the topic, let’s talk about temperature. 

My last piece of advice to help answer the “what program & temperature is effective and earth-loving?” question. 

My machine offers an eco wash but only at 40 or 60 degrees, however my products can wash effectively at much lower temps. I couldn’t make sense of this so I decided to investigate and came to the following understanding... All wash modes are a mix of just three things: temperature, time and water. 

By using the eco mode, you’re using less water at a lower temperature than most settings (yay!!). Usually though, you’re in for a longer wash to get the same level of cleaning (bumer). Alos, warming up the temp takes the most energy (+ time), and accounts for approx. 90% of the energy consumption. 

So, here’s where we get controversial. Set the machine to just 20 degrees (or start at 30 if you’re not quite ready) - this helps to cut the CO2 emission (period!) AND shorten the program. 

I do the 20˚C / Cotton Wash (normally 2.5 hours) and shorten this to 1hour 13 minutes; and when the wash is ready, I run the Spin program again (the spinning of the drum uses very little power in comparison) and, spoiler alert, it also gives you the longest lifetime value of your clothes..

So there we have it, the ultimate solution to truly eco-friendly washing (erm, can’t believe I am actually getting excited about sharing this, but I am..)