Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Washing balls

I tried a different kind of washing ball from Lakeland. They're just heavy plastic balls that agitate your clothes in the machine and bash the dirt out of them.

I wish I had some way of telling whether clothes are cleaner, or wear out quicker, or fade more, depending on what type of washing additive you use. But in absence of a scientific method here are my findings about eco-laundry:
  • Using laundry detergent gets your clothes clean
  • Using "eco" laundry detergent gets your clothes clean
  • Using soap nuts gets your laundry clean
  • Using "eco balls" gets your clothes clean
  • Using heavy plastic washing balls gets your clothes clean
  • Using nothing at all gets your clothes clean - even when all the residual detergent has been flushed out of your machine
In conclusion - that whole aisle of the supermarket selling dozens of different types of laundry detergent, liquids, tabs, softeners, bleaches, stain removers, wash additives - it's all a con. Unless your clothes get unusually grubby - if you are weaning your baby and his clothes are regularly covered with spaghetti hoops, if you are a smallholder and your clothes are often caked with mud and pig dung, then yes you may need to use detergent for those washes. But I've found it's not necessary for most "normal" washes.

I wash all my clothes on 30 degrees with plain water and no detergent. Most stuff comes out clean. Some things need a rub with some kind of stain remover and washing again - but that also happens when you use detergent. Dry things outdoors when you can. Not only does it save energy, but the sunlight whitens clothes and kills bacteria (if you're worried about bacteria).

18 comments:

Artela said...

Have you seen this:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6669551.stm

Joanna said...

SO interesting - you just know that industrial processors of all sorts don't really have our interests at heart ... I know a lot about this in the realm of food, but am a beginner here - but it makes a lot of sense to me

Keep up the good work
Joanna
joannasfood.blogspot.com

Melanie Rimmer said...

aretla said "Have you seen this:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6669551.stm"

Which points to a BBC news story which says:
"Low-temperature cycles in washing machines don't get rid of some of the most common causes of allergy attacks, say scientists."

Which is very interesting, but later in the article it says:

"They found that rinsing fabrics three or four times in cold water after washing at 30 degrees produced results comparable with a much hotter wash."

So basically if you are an allergy sufferer you may find you still need to wash at higher temperatures to reduce your symptoms. But if the washing machine manufacturers made machines which rinsed more effectively, then that wouldn't be necessary even for allergy sufferers.

Thanks for that, Artela

Chile said...

My front-loading machine uses less detergent. I'd been using about a tablespoon of dry, but noticed how much soap was still in the 3rd rinse. I've now cut back even further and sometimes just use a pinch of washing soda instead.

No need for hot water wash here in the US desert. Our summer "cold water" tap yields 85 degree (F) water.

Mrs Bench said...

What about those really ingrained marks you get after waring things in the garden a few times. do you think these ball would help for them?

Lesley said...

I agree about hanging the washing out to dry, but in the same way that the sun gets white things whiter, it also bleaches coloureds, so it helps to hang these inside out

Melanie Rimmer said...

Mrs Bench - those green gardening stains are a pain aren't they? Definitely one for the stain removers. But don't you find that even laundry detergent doesn't always get them out first time? Drying in the sunlight ought to help bleach them out.

Lesley - good tip about hanging coloureds inside out. Thanks!

Mike said...

Oh Thank God you said "a different kind of washing ball". I read "Washing Balls" and, I'll tell you honestly, Mel, you had me worried for a short while!

lilymarlene said...

I have bought those same washing balls and can't use them in an overnight wash (economy 7) because they are sooooo noisy.
For years I have used half or less than the amount stated of detergent. Also since once finding out when my washing machine heater packed up that it washed just as well on cold (except for tea towels which do need a hot wash in this household) i do most of my washing on a long cool wash.
And another advantage of using little or no detergent is that you can safely water your garden with the waste water...!

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