2016-03-27 Sun

Second Use For Everything (SUFE)

Chris Goodall in his book “How to live a low-carbon life” page 117 talks about Washing Machines being cold-fill. That is, washing machines with only a Cold-Water Inlet; no provision for Hot Water Input.

I soak my laundry in 25-litre pails the day before laundry. I add a dash of detergent to the water and let time do the work. By soaking the material for almost twenty-four hours, the dirt and grease is pretty well loosened up, and my trip to the laundry room is really the business of rinsing the dirt and detergent out of the soaked clothing.

I started wondering why we use hot-water to Wash Clothes. As far as I can see, hot water damages fibres and elastics and who knows what else.

Why did my mother wash clothes in hot water?

Back in 1956 when we moved to Southern Cross the laundry room was a three-walled shed outside the house. A copper tub of about twenty-gallon capacity sat in a fire grate. We ran cold water into the tub and lit a fire of mallee roots in the grate. The fire, well-stoked, boiled the water.

Into the tub of boiling, roiling soapy water went the clothes. My mother used (and taught me how to use!) a “sosher”, which was a plunger on a wooden stick. We soshed the clothes up and down.

But I suspect that in the early days it was the boiling water, the steam bubbles percolating upwards, that agitated the clothes and agitated the dirt right out of them.

I suspect that laundry was in boiling water for the agitation caused by the bubbles of steam, released by the energy in the wood fuel.

And I suspect that “hot water for laundry” is based on that premise.

That is, I did it because my mother did it, and she did it because her mother did it , and her mother ...