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Water waste

Earlier the baby and I got in from a stint in the garden and we were really mucky. I said at the time the washing machine was going to be working overtime to fix this. Later I thought about it and realised something. The washing machine is for that. It isn’t overtime it is normal work and we have forgotten that. Most clothes in a washing machine don’t actually need to be cleaned never mind chemically cleaned.

The reason is that most of us in the west live in a very clean environment. We wash, clean our teeth and wear new clothes every day. We take our clothes off at the end of the day and put them in the wash basket. Most of the time there is nothing dirty about them at all. We habitually wash most of our clothes and bedding when it doesn’t need it but simply by habit and routine. Unless of course you have male kids in the house who play football or rugby, then they can be classed as dirty.

We need to reduce that as part of a self sufficiency drive, and stop it for a survival scenario, we must minimise use of water as part of water conservation.

At this point you are all thinking you don’t want to be anywhere near me if you can help it. I can assure you that I’m as bad as the rest of you. I can’t bring myself to put the same clothes on two days in a row, even jumpers and trousers can only be worn two or three times. It is programmed in by my mother I’m afraid. Talk about exorcising demons. Even so I’ll force a relook at my monthly shower. Could I make two months? Mmm. 🙂

I think though that we need to start weaning ourselves off this wasteful habit. Sure we need to wash socks and underpants after every wear but shirts? Perhaps, I get hot quick so I sweat. I need mine washed every day. It may be different for you? Even when they need washed are they really that dirty that they require 2 Hrs in 60 degree water with strong detergents? In most cases that would be a No. Look at a quick wash for your garments in a mild detergent or no detergent. Reuse the water for several washes and keep your water usage down.

Ask yourselves do we really need to shower every day? Could a simply wash of all the necessary bits do? I do shower every day but wonder how much I actually need it. I don’t do manual work and I don’t break a sweat most days. I just shower because it is in my daily routine. If it wasn’t for the shower gel I use the water wouldn’t be dirty. I could make do with a bowl of water and a body wash of all my sweaty bits.

There are initiatives out there for us to change our usage habits. Personally I think that in the UK with the rain we get we don’t need to bother too much. However, it will be forced on us by the puritans in the government. If you can get into that mindset now then it will be less of a shock when the taxes hit.

There are people out there working on this subject. Starting from fresh clean water to drink and cook. Rain water from the roof for washing and cleaning dishes and clothes. Taking that waste water and instead of putting it down the drains it becomes grey water for gardening and to flush the toilets and then this waste, now really dirty, goes down the drains. It is efficient and saves water. The downside is that it will require completely new plumbing to manage this and will be very expensive to implement especially when we don’t need to. Of course if you are building a new place from scratch then it is worth looking at although again, it won’t be cost effective though unless they force it on us by taxes and you can be sure they want to do that. They are already looking at rolling out meters to places that have no shortage of water.

In my opinion, you should start looking at your water usage now. I’m not advocating stopping showering. Just think about it. I’m looking for a good book on the subject and advice on how to implement a grey water system but can’t find one but we can at least look at getting rid of the plumbed in dishwashers and washing machines and look at the old style boards and unplumbed washing machines. They are purely for convenience, a trade off between time and money. Look at some old style clothes cleaning and reduce your detergents. Exchange time and effort for money. It’ll probably help with the allergies and itching at the very least and you still won’t smell. I promise. Then you will be ready when the water tax meters come.

One final thought. At this moment I think the savings are not worth the hassle. It is a lot of work to hand wash everything and store and move the grey water. That may change when the meters come in and will change if we have a disaster scenario. Be prepared.

5 comments to Water waste

  • half

    I have a wonderwasher I use during the summer, its a washing machine for camping. Its a barrel in a frame with a handle to spin it, bit of hot water, screw the lid on and spin. It builds up pressure inside and is pretty good at cleaning t shirts and small bits and bobs.Uses very little water and powder. I also have a small wringer/mangle but its too small to be useful.
    I collect a lot of rain water for the garden in summer and flushing the toilet in winter. I already have a water meter as I live alone and it works out cheaper, £180 for last year.

  • Silent Storm

    I have a shower every day because I work on a building site.
    But I wear the same clothes for weeks at a time (apart from boxers) when I’m at home, they just don’t get that dirty, and I see no point in washing them unless they start to smell or start to look really grubby.
    My parents, who are in their seventies just use a bowl of hot water and a flannel to wash themselves during the week and have a shower on a Friday night, I guess they were raised in a time when hot water had to be boiled on the stove and didn’t come straight out of a tap super heated by a combi boiler.
    It’s weird to think that the cleaner we think we are as a society, the more we need to clean.

  • Skean Dhude

    Sounds like you are way ahead of me here.

    I’ve heard of the Wonderwash. Seems like something that should be in your home already never mind in with your survival gear.

  • Ronnie

    Have two sets of clothes. One is dirty and tough for outside jobs, dry them out after use, but only wash when really filthy, soak in tub first so as not to break machine. Others are for ‘clean’ activities, as with food, has to pass the sniff test.

    Oh, and save clothes by doing all your housework/cooking in undies, apron and gloves! [joke]

  • Skean Dhude


    I do have ‘outside clothes’ that I use for doney work.

    I usually walk around in my undies in the house though. Only problem I get is when I’m cooking bacon.

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