What The Hay

Crafty Hayseed Goodness!

Super Solar Clothes Dryer August 17, 2007

Filed under: environment,house stuf — clothespin @ 11:59 am

I love our bigger house.  More room to spread out and the house quite as full – more breathing space.  But, with more breathing space comes more space to cool and heat, more light-bulbs to power (even when using the CFLs) and more space to clean and a much bigger carbon footprint.

One of the great things about this place is that it has laundry  hookups in the back porch.  After visiting a very nice laundromat for years, it is so nice to be able to throw a load of wash in without having to drive anywhere or turn it into a massive expedition.  However, with the joys of at home laundry comes the pain of energy costs…


According to Consumer Reports, 90% of the energy used in washing clothes is in heating the wash water – not in running the machine itself.  That’s a lot of energy just to get warm water!  Happily, washing clothes in cold water works just as well and will save a ton on the energy costs.

While there is some concern out there that laundry soaps were made for warm water wash only, and while there are commercial detergents being made now for cold water wash, there is a problem with all of that.  They all generally use petroleum (yup, the same black stuff that we’re fighting for in the Middle East) to make the detergent.  Happily, there are laundry soaps being made that use vegetable oils instead of petroleum. Hubby and I have happily been using Seventh Generation for several years and haven’t noticed anything negative with their use – and have a slightly smaller carbon footprint because of it.

However, if you want to give a try at a far cheaper and environmentally friendly method of cleaning clothes… try making your own laundry soap.  It’s not hard and according to everyone I’ve ever known who have used it – works great.  And, for those of you lucky enough to have a High Efficiency laundry machine, this stuff doesn’t suds  and works fine in those fancy machines.


There are two versions out there- the powdered version (which I am planning on making) and the liquid version (and another version of liquid).  Both use the same ingredients, so go with whichever works better for you.  The other thing – nearly all recipes call for Fels Naptha soap.  This is still a petroleum based product, which in my mind, defeats the purpose of making my own soap in the first place.  I am using Dr. Bronners bar soap which is organic and vegetable oil based and should work just fine.

Seventh Generation does make fabric softener, too.  However, I’ve found that it is really not needed.  Instead, I use 1/2 cup of vinegar in the softener part of my washing machine.  Vinegar helps by getting rid of the last little bit of soap in the clothes during the rinse cycle and keeps static cling to a minimum.  Don’t worry about the vinegar smell, it isn’t present after the clothes have dried (hubby still hasn’t noticed if that means anything).  I’ve even heard of folks putting the vinegar into a Downy Ball and using it like normal softner.  Plus, vinegar will help keep your towels super adsorbent.

The last little bit in my laundry efforts was a project that involved hubby and his tools.  We put up a clothesline.  I grew up with one and never thought anything bad about it, but apparently some folks find this a symbol of the “lower class”… whatever.  Who cares what other people think?  It’s laundry – not the scarlet letter for pete’s sake.


Clothes dryers are huge energy hogs, add heat to homes in the summer and help your clothes wear out faster.  Clotheslines use no energy, the sun kills the little germs that are still on your clothes and make your laundry smell great.

Russ and I built this one by putting the posts into concrete in holes… and then using eye screws to string the clothesline through – provided a self tightening system that is working well.  The posts are set 30 feet apart and I’ve hung 3 loads of laundry out at one time on my line.

The best part about the clothesline?  It’s fun.  It reminds me of when I was a kid on the farm and it helps lessen my impact on the planet just a little bit.  I mean, why pay to dry clothes in a dryer when I can let the sun do it for free?


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