Monthly Archives: May 2008

Cold Water Laundry

Goodness I do a lot of laundry. That’s how it goes with small children, especially with one still wetting the bed despite diapers.

We’ve been washing our clothes in cold water for years. That’s almost always sufficient, and I’ve never even tried a “cold water detergent.” The regular stuff works just fine.

You can get some great laundry tips on the U.S. Department of Energy’s site. I’m not surprised to see that they neglect to mention line drying clothes at this point, but the rest of the advice is good.

Almost everything I wash comes out fine, as I said, with a cold water wash. Those things that don’t I try a couple things.

Dawn Dish Soap

Great for removing grease related stains. It may take an hour or two, but for tough stains I’ve left it on overnight. Clothes that otherwise appeared ruined come clean.

Baking Soda and White Vinegar

Rub baking soda into the stain. Spray or pour white vinegar. It will bubble up and work on the stain. This works well on carpet stains too.

Not every stain is going to come out. I think that’s one of the big lessons of motherhood. Kids are really good at ruining the appearance of their clothes, sometimes in a single wearing. To me that just means you maintain a playtime wardrobe. Children really don’t care, as a rule, if their clothes are stained or torn if they’re comfortable and allowed to have fun.

More Reusable Bags

I wrote the other day about buying reusable bags for doing your shopping. I got a message about another company I think you might like to know about.

They’re called ReJavanate.

You might guess from their name that it has something to do with coffee, and you’d be right. They take the burlap sacks coffee is transported in, and make it into new bags. They work with The ARC and have people with developmental disabilities hand make the bags.

Just another great option when you want a reusable bag rather than picking between paper and plastic.

Head Out on a Family Hike

One of the things my family loves to do is hike together. It’s very relaxing and good exercise. We are very fortunate to have some fields within walking distance to go hiking at.

A family hike is a great way to encourage your kids to explore nature. On one of our first hikes in these fields, the grass was just covered in ladybugs. I mean hundreds of them. The kids had a blast and we took some home to feast on the aphids that had taken over the rosebush.

The rosebush is much grateful, buy the looks of things.

Every time we go the kids find something interesting to explore. There are some very steep hills to climb – fortunately with less challenging paths for the way down. I’ve always found downhill more nerve wracking than up when it’s a steep hill. The kids of course think that hill is a treat, for all they need help getting to the top.

We’ve found fuzzy black caterpillars. My daughter is learning to identify local plants. All around, it’s just a good thing.

Even if you don’t have a good place to hike within walking distance of your house, find some place fairly local for doing that. It’s really fun and a great addition to your family’s routine.

Choosing a Reusable Shopping Bag

Something I often find challenging is remembering to pack my reusable bags when I go grocery shopping. Not quite the habit I’d like it to be yet. I’m working on it, of course, but it just isn’t there yet.

It is wonderful, of course, how available they are now. I can’t think of any grocery store in my area that isn’t carrying reusable bags, and many are about $0.99. A couple stores carry higher quality ones that do cost more, though.

But getting something a little more stylish is always a temptation. I do enjoy wandering the reusable shopping bag selection at Reuseable Bags. In particular, I’m thinking some of the ultra compact bags would take care of that memory problem. They could just sit in my purse or car, ready for use. There are even some styles for kids, so you can start them off young.

I really need to start doing this, though. It makes much more sense to me than trying to remember to return the plastic ones for recycling, or debating if I have a need for a paper bag. Henry’s takes $0.05 per bag of your own you bring, which is a small reason, but a reason nonetheless.

Are Paper Towels Really Necessary?

I’ll admit it. I can be a bit of a paper towel junkie.

Not too bad. I don’t dry my hands with them (I use a cloth towel for that), but I still use paper towel probably more than I should, given the waste.

It’s 99.9% the convenience of it all. Kids are messy and paper towels are fast. When you’re cleaning up several spills a day most days, you get very fond of convenience.

At the same time I do think about the overall impact. Overusing paper towels generates quite a bit of waste. Using cloth over and over can be better.

There are some things which I do like paper towels better for. I use cast iron frying pans, and oiling them for storage I find paper towels are simpler. Otherwise I’d get a single use out of a clean towel and have to get oil out of it. I’d pretty much need a dedicated set that I didn’t mind the oil on.

If you can, I recommend switching to primarily cloth towels. If you have a nice supply in the hand towel or washcloth size range you can cope well with most jobs you would have used a paper towel for.

One of the tricks is to know that they often can be reused. If it’s a stinky or germy job you may only get one use before you need to wash, but just drying off your hands won’t require that you immediately send the towel to the wash. Keep that balance.

Different kinds of cloths can do some jobs better. There are some things I prefer the old style cloth diapers for. Not the new kind that work so nicely as diapers, but the old ones you can still see at the baby stores that you’d probably have to fold up a couple together to really soak up what babies can generate. The ones I have are pretty thin, but they do the job quite nicely in the place of paper towels a lot of the time, even if they aren’t pretty.

Other jobs do well with the standard terrycloth kind of towels. You’ll develop your own preferences as you go. The nice thing is that a cloth towel can do the job of several paper ones, as a rule, so you may be saving more than you think if you just count by the job.

Will I be giving up paper towels entirely anytime soon? Probably not. But I am working to steadily decrease my usage of them. It’s a challenging thing to give up with young children in the house.