Last year I bought a washing machine for the first time. For years I’d gone to my parent’s to do my washing. I bought a front-loading washing machine which uses less water than a top-loading washing machine (even though it takes a longer time to wash). I chose one that was more energy efficient and so had lower carbon emissions. A front loader is more expensive, but I’d saved up enough money and the Western Australian state government provides cash rebates for the purchase of certain water efficient products, like front-loading washing machines.
Even though I have solar water heating, I use cold water for my washing. Older washing machines had a hose from the hot and the cold taps, but newer products have only one hose from the cold tap and if you choose a hot wash the water is heated in the machine. I think this is a wasteful use of resources because many houses heat water with gas or solar power. If I have stains on clothes I have to soak and scrub them (with a bar of pure soap) before putting them in the machine.
I would like to use a detergent which has no added phosphorous, but I’ve only found one. When I tried it the washing wasn’t as thorough and the clothes didn’t feel as nice. Michael said his towel felt like cardboard. So I’ve gone back to an ordinary detergent. The package has a label that says: “Complies with agreed Phosphorous Standard,” but they all say that.
I run the grey water onto my garden through a hose, but not onto the indigenous plants because they’re very sensitive to phosphorous. You can buy 10m grey water hoses from supermarkets and hardware stores. I have mostly paving out the back, so I bought two hoses, joined them together and ran them under the house to the front garden. (This was easy because of the foot high cavity under my older house.) Before I got the hose I would fill buckets and carry them out the front. This didn’t last for long, because it was too much like hard work.
I dry my washing in the sun. To achieve this I plan my washing around when it’s sunny (this is more difficult in winter, when there’s often clothes hanging all around the house). Washing on sunny days is pretty easy if you live in Perth or the desert. Living pretty much any another place in the world, you might have more difficulty. My brother lives in tropical Darwin in the Northern Territory and it may be hard to function without a clothes dryer there (although I’m sure some people do).