Spring Projects: The Paperless Kitchen

Imagine not having to buy paper towels or napkins. Imagine producing less trash. Imagine cleaning and living more sustainably and frugally 
The fabled paperless kitchen

This one can be difficult, friends. But it can also be excellent, depending on who you are. I will say straight up that it did not work for me, at least not all the time. But it might work for you. 

The concept is simple enough: replace all of your napkins and paper towels with towels and cloths, save money and produce less waste. It’s an excellent idea that got me excited.

I even went a step further and stopped using paper tissues, which was great for the skin on my nose. I cut up several old shirts to use as napkins and tissues, and I bought a 34 pack of cheap, scrubby paper towels for wiping down counters and drying spills. I hung a bag to use as a cleaning-cloth-hamper on the wall of my kitchen. I was prepared. I was excited.

It went really, really well for a week or so, until a friend and I made cauliflower wings, and I realized that hot sauce on my cloth napkins was something I could not abide. And there were some other things – the grime behind my bathroom door, goat cheese, that I just felt I needed something disposable to clean. This is primarily because I don’t have access to my own washing machine, and secondarily because I happen to have obsessive compulsive disorder. Anxiety levels vary, but the fact that I wash everything by hand…not so much. Lacking a proper way to get the gross stuff – sometimes actual food pieces – out of my cleaning cloths, really was in some cases deal breaker for me. I ended up tossing out a few because of it.

But in other cases, cloth cleaning is perfect.

I still use cloth to dry damp counters, wipe up water spills and sometimes to clean sinks, floors and surfaces with soaps  baking soda or cleaning sprays. But I do not use them to clean up food, or anything particularly grimy. 

It’s a part-time compromise that allows me to decide when to use paper and when to use cloth, depending on my anxiety level.

So that’s where I am.

If you happen to be interested in eliminating or reducing paper from your house, I encourage you to try it! Let me know how it works out! 

Spring Projects: The New Washing Machine

I’ve always dreaded doing laundry. I’m one to accumulate heaps of dirty clothes in shockingly brief periods of time, only to do more stressing about it than cleaning. So when I learned that my new apartment wouldn’t have a laundry room, I made a resolution to rethink my process of dealing with my dirty clothes.

First, I did a purging of that laundry pile – I put on Archer and discarded a metric ton of old and worn pajamas, crappy socks, ripped tights, and day clothes that no longer felt like they matched my aesthetic. This article and a few others like it helped me assuage the guilt that (at least for me) always comes with getting rid of old clothes.

Then, I bought this:

It’s a tool for actually making machine-less laundry practical and doable, and it cost me $25. $30 if you count the plastic tub I bought at walmart to do my washing in. And it’s awesome.

I’ve washed a myriad of things so far- towels, delicates, sweatpants – and I can vouch that they’re just as clean as when I used a machine to wash them. And the whole process is freeee. No trips to the parents’ house or weird monetary alchemy required to turn debit cards into quarters.

Majorly important for me, however, is that it’s taken the anxiety out of doing laundry, and given me control over how my clothes are washed. I don’t intend to pull damaged or shrunken clothes out of archaic driers ever again.

So, on to the tutorial:

You will need a bathtub, one breathing mobile washer, some laundry soap or baking soda, and a plastic basin big enough to fill with water and clothes (using your entire bathtub is an option, but if your tub is old or hasn’t just been cleaned, your clothes will be soaking in whatever is stuck to the sides).

1. Fill the plastic tub with water and a very little bit of soap- much less than you’d put in a machine. I use about a teaspoon per load, and usually put it in first so that it mixes well with the running water. Depending on how big your container is, adjust accordingly.

2. Splash it around to get some bubbles going, and put in your clothes. Mix them around a bit, and let them soak for 15 or 20 minutes, or about the length of a half hour netflix show.

3. This is the fun part. Once they’ve soaked, take your mobile washer and put it on the surface of the water, then plunge down. Again. And again. This will take some effort if you’re out of shape like I am, but it’s a free workout!

If your clothes are really dirty or if at any time the water looks gross, feel free to dump it out and refresh, then keep washing. You can repeat this step as many times as it takes, but it really should only take one vigorous wash or a few gentle ones (be nice to your delicates!) to get everything clean.

 

4. Rinse. I’ve found that it’s best to do this in your plastic tub as running your clothes under the faucet can stretch them. Just fill your tub with clear water, and rinse out each item until the soap is out. You might have to rinse, dump and refill if it’s a big load.

5. Hang them to dry! Carefully and gently squeeze out most of the water – consequences from roughly wringing out some sweatpants proved to me this part is essential- and hang them im a way that supports the item’s shape. The top of a drying rack is good for shirts or sweaters that might stretch when hung vertically. You can also lay fragile garments out on a towel, preferably near an air vent or fan.

6. Drying will take so time, so be sure you have clothes to wear in the meantime.

7. Celebrate the fact that you’ve just done laundry the old fashioned / green / frugal / minimalist/ [insert trend here] way, make some tea and relax.

♡♡

I actually really love doing laundry this way. It’s somehow calming to me, and it eliminates a lot of stress that I would ordinarily have in dealing with layndry. I may have wet clothes hanging in embarrassing places – like the top of a giant box I’ve yet to recycle- but that’s a small price to pay for a simple laundry process that doesn’t overcomplicate my life or aggravate my presently miniscule budget.

This is the first of a series of revolutions in how I live, clean, and manage my life. Stay tuned for more practical-green-frugal-&-sorta-minimalist posts.