Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fringe Laundering

I have mostly come to terms with the fact that A. and I--and by extension, our family as a whole--will never be mainstream. In fact, we've pretty much consciously chosen not to be. I am different. I do different things. I love making cider vinegar or tallow or soap; I love foraging for wild food; I love the sight of laundry on a clothesline. I really dislike television, cell phones, buying things, and anything made of plastic.

So I know I'm not a typical American. But I think in the case of my current laundry habits, I'm not only not mainstream, I'm way on the fringe.

Okay, so I still use a modern washing machine (when I start doing laundry on a wash board, then I'll consider myself really 'round the bend). But you know what I don't use in that washing machine anymore? Laundry soap. Of any kind. Not even the homemade kind that I had been making and using for years.

The reason I stopped using it is because Ruth Goodman told me I didn't have to.

If you don't know who Ruth Goodman is (and I'm guessing most people don't), you can find her all over YouTube, and she's well worth looking up there. She's a British historian who specializes in actually trying out everything she can from every time period that interests her. She makes clothing, goes without bathing (instead using dry brushing daily), uses traditional cleaning methods, and on and on and on.

Her interests seem to be nearly limitless, and her enthusiasm completely endearing. She's been in numerous BBC shows in which she and other historians try building a castle in France, or living and working on an Edwardian farm, or a Tudor monastery farm, or a Victorian farm. Or whatever.

I love Ruth. She's just so charming in her own incredibly enthusiastic way.

She has also written a couple of books, which I have of course read. I think it was in the one about Tudor England where she mentioned that she no longer uses laundry soap on a regular basis, because it's really the agitation of the washing machine that gets dirt out.

Hold up. No soap? Like, at all? I was intrigued.

I have, of course, heard the oft-repeated advice to use less laundry detergent than specified by manufacturers. And the water here at our house now is very hard, which tends to lead to detergent build-up on clothes anyway. There was also the point that if I wasn't using it, I didn't need to make it.

So I stopped using it. I didn't tell A. at first, because I knew he would be skeptical and I wanted to try it first to see if it worked.

It did.

Now, this does require using more hot water than would be feasible at Blackrock, but we have hot water here. I actually mostly use warm water, but I do use hot for some loads. After a few weeks of never using laundry soap of any kind, I confessed to A. He immediately sniffed his t-shirt and said, "Even my clothes?"

Yup. Even his. Nothing smelled, nothing looked bad, nothing, in fact, seemed wrong with it at all. And that's been my laundry routine now for at least the past six months.

I do have a bottle of some kind of fragrance-free liquid detergent that I occasionally use for greasy kitchen cloths and so on, because grease does require some soap to be lifted off of fabric. I also use a stain-remover for the perennially grass-stained knees of Cubby's baseball pants. But other than that, just water.

This might not work if I had professional clothing to worry about--A.'s court clothes always seemed to have ring around the collar or grease stains on them somewhere--but our dressiest clothing now is khaki pants, so that's not a great concern of mine.

Now, I am well aware that most people are not going to be going laundry-detergent-free anytime soon, which is of course fine. But it's definitely an option. You know, if you want to jump out of the mainstream and into the uncharted waters of fringe laundering. Or something.


Anonymous said...

I think that I have reached my limit of fringe resistance by hanging my clothes outside (the neighbors think that I am crazy). "Smell these clothes," I would say if they asked. Mary in MN

Becky said...

OK--I'm game. I'll give it a try.

FinnyKnits said...

Oh really? I must try this. Even the fragrance free stuff bugs my skin, but my work clothes are so repugnant, I'm intrigued to see if this might still work. If it does...oh, girl - I will be extolling your virtues like a madwoman.

Anonymous said...

Found your blog via your comment on the frugal girl. Tried just warm water & no soap this weekend for dirty clothes. Worked like a charm. I'm in!