September 18, 2008

Green Living: Washing Clothes Less Often

Candice of Mom Most Traveled inspired me to write a tip about laundry (a frequent topic of mine). The simple tip is this: wear your clothes multiple times rather than washing them after each use.

Last week she did a guest post for Go Natural Baby about Green Living in the Third World. It was quite enlightening, raising the point about how much of a privilege that green living is here in the states, whereas around the world it's a way of life due to limited resources and often, poverty.

In her post, she wrote about living in Asia and Central America and how difficult it was to wash clothes under the circumstances of environmental conditions and availability of water. Therefore people wore clothes multiple times before washing them.

Now before you say "gross!", consider that in the Western world, we rarely get dirty at work. Many of us work in offices, retail or in the service industry, where you may break a sweat only if you go out for spicy food at lunch. Couple that with our near-obsession with hygiene, and you have an Of course I'm not saying to re-wear that shirt with the pit stains and mustard stain on the front.

In our home, not only do we wear clothes a few times before washing, but we also reuse our towels for multiple showers. Really, when you think about it, you're clean coming out of the shower or bath, so how dirty is your towel getting anyway?

Not only will you save water, but you'll also save wear and tear on your clothes. To help them out a little in between washings, hang them outside for 20 minutes or use this recipe for homemade linen spray.

Natural Linen Spray
Essential oil(s) of your choice (lavender or sweet orange are my faves)
1/2 cup cheap vodka (helps disperse the essential oils) or distilled water
Spray bottle with a fine mist setting

Mix 10 drops of the essential oil(s) with the vodka/distilled water in the spray bottle. Shake and let it sit for a few hours before using for the first time. Shake well before each use.


  1. My mom often reminds me that her parents carefully kept their clothes clean so that a shirt could be worn several times to work--which would cut down on ironing too. Looking back a few generations and at the rest of the world can certainly give us a healthy reality check. Also, taking a look at the per capita carbon footprint of Americans versus third world dwellers is pretty shocking. The linen spray tip is a great idea for keeping a fresh smell on slightly worn clothes. Thanks so much for joining us for Thrifty Green Thursday this week!

  2. We do this in my household. In our room we have a chair where we lay items that have been worn to work but still have some life in them.

    In the winter I like to wear a thin tshirt or tank top under layers to keep sweaters and long sleve shirts clean longer them clean longer.

  3. I need to make that. I've been using biodegradable soap for my towels, and while they're clean, they sometimes have a funky smell to them.

  4. I taught English in a couple different foreign countries, and I remember being surprised to see people wear the same exact outfit two or three days in a row. At the time I thought it was a terrible idea. Now I know better! I don't have to toss everything in the laundry after wearing it just once.

    The average family of four does a load of laundry every single day. We're a family of three and don't do more than two or three loads a week, even when we were using cloth diapers! So not only does rewearing clothes save resources, it saves a lot of time!

    Thanks for joining us for Thrifty Green Thursday!

  5. I should probably have added that I brought a suitcase full of clothes to Belize and ended up wearing 3 outfits the entire 12 weeks!

  6. I love that you posted a natural "febreeze" recipe!!!

  7. I think rewearing clothes and reusing towels is the best way to go! If we didn't do that with our family of 6 I would be doing laundry all the time! (especially since we use cloth diapers too.)


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