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Difference between revisions of "Washing and drying clothes"

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(→‎Reducing the need for washing: See the Clothing page for more detailed suggestions.)
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==See also==
==See also==
*[[HSU Bike powered washing machine]]
*[[HSU Bike powered washing machine]]
*[[Greywater]] - what to do with the dirty wash water.
== External links ==
== External links ==

Revision as of 11:53, 19 October 2007

Washing clothes

Pedal-powered washing machines have been made at MIT in partnership with a Guatemalan community (see Bicilavadora: A Pedal-powered Washing Machine) and at Humboldt's Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (see HSU Bike powered washing machine). These designs use direct power, rather than generating electricity to run the washer.[1] There are also many more hits on Google.

The Centre for Appropriate Technology (Australia) has had some success in Australian indigenous communities with a hand-operated "washing machine" using a paddle to stir the water, which is popular for washing blankets. Attempts have been made by CAT (or people associated with CAT) to introduce it to Indonesia, but it was not popular, as they felt the clothes were not getting a proper wash.[2]

A television show in Australia in the 1980s ("The Inventors"?) had a small hand-operated washing machine, suitable for nappies, for example, while camping.

Solar hot water could make washing easier and more effective, as the additional cleaning effect from using warm or hot water could be an alternative to hard scrubbing work the hands. Of course, this is not suitable for all materials, especially colored clothing, or clothing which is liable to shrink.

A method of saving water is to re-use water from the rinse cycle for the next wash. A place is needed to store the water. Great care should be taken if color has come out in the water, not to use that water for washing light-colored clothing. Thus the best design is likely to use a tub or tank which is white or light colored on the inside, and which can be looked into to check the water.[Suggested project]

Spin-drying or wringing

In developing countries, after washing and before hanging up, clothes are generally wrung out by hand.[3] This is less effective than the spin cycle of a washing machine, and the result is that the clothes dry less quickly, and have a less fresh smell.[4] Wringing is also hard work, and tough on the skin of the hands.

It may be possible to build an appropriate technology spin dryer.

However, the best solution may be the one which was popular in Western countries before washing machines became popular, i.e. the mangle or clothes wringerDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD., in which clothes are passed between two rollers which squeeze them tightly.

Examples of wringers can be seen at here at Survival Unlimited - these start at around US$100, but it can be expected that they should be much cheaper in a developing country, especially if mass-produced. (Other pictures, including old-style wringers, can be seen at Google image search.)

Reducing the need for washing

Environmental impact and labor can both be saved by measures that reduce the need for washing: suitable choice of clothes (color and fabric) and habits such as hanging and airing clothes. See the Clothing page for more detailed suggestions.

Drying clothes

Traditionally in most places, clothes are dried on a clotheslineDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD.. This practice uses readily free, renewable energy sources - wind and sunshine.

Care should be taken with colored clothes, as they may fade in the sun. They should either be left in the sun for a short time only, or dried in a shady position (or hung out overnight so that they are almost dry by sunrise - this may be less effective where there is heavy dew or fog).

Wealthier people (whether in developing or advanced countries) may choose to use clothes dryersDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. - they are seen as convenient and reliable, not dependent on weather. However, they are very wasteful of energy.

Some council codes (e.g. in many parts of Sydney, Australia) actually require developers to install clothes dryers.[5] This is very wasteful of energy, and so sustainable alternatives are desirable. Where drying clothes in public view is not allowed, in order to maintain a tidy appearance, there are designs which can satisfy both sustainability and aesthetics. One approach is to have drying rooms (perhaps a small section of a balcony) with louvers to allow airflow. Another is to have the balcony railing designed in such a way (e.g. with louvers) that drying racks below a certain height are not visible from outside the building.

In some cases, such as hospitals or large hotels, clothes dryers may be considered necessary, either for regular use or (preferably) only as a backup. It is perhaps inevitable that laundromats will have dryers as well, if only for urgent situations where a customer needs or wants to dry clothes quickly. In this case, more efficient dryers such as heat pump dryersDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. and mechanical steam compression dryersDEPRECATED TEMPLATE - PLEASE USE {{W}} INSTEAD. should be considered. Gas dryers may also be more efficient and have lower carbon emissions.[Suggested project] Where energy ratings are given, these should be considered. More efficient dryers are likely to be more expensive up front, but will have lower ongoing energy costs, which will be very significant in cases of frequent use.

See also

External links

References and footnotes

  1. Pedal Powered Washing Machine Tests, David Butcher, a pedal-power enthusiast, calculates it would take 1 hr and 45 minutes of pedaling to generate electricity for one load of washing. Presumably it is significantly more efficient to use the mechanical power directly, rather than using a generator; also this may be cheaper in a developing country setting.
  2. Based on personal conversation between Chriswaterguy and (name?) from CAT, at the EWB Australia national conference, 2005.
  3. This is common practice in Indonesia, and presumably also the case in other developing countries. --Chriswaterguy
  4. At least, I assume it's the less effective wringing that is the reason for the smell. Note that it's not a really bad smell, but clothes that have been through the washing machine and spun dry are definitely fresher smelling. --Chriswaterguy
  5. This contributes to the unexpected result that new apartments in Sydney use as much as or more energy than stand-alone houses.