If one thing put me off more children, it was the washing.
If I'm super organised (rare) then I'll manage one wash during the week, but mainly it's an endless Saturday job. And I hate it. Really loathe it.
My children have a different definition of 'dirty' to me. My interpretation is 'caked in mud' (which my clothes frequently are) but I often pull still folded, unworn clothes of theirs from the washing basket. Some have even still had the labels on!
It's not an 'eco' thing; I just want to minimise the time it takes, so there is selective sorting occurs as a first step. Some never make it as far as the machine before they are returned to the drawer, or the top of the drawers in a pile as is more usually the case.
I use Ecover washing liquid. I know it's possibly not the best option, but it's easily accessible so I don't need to make a special trip to buy it, it's relatively inexpensive and it does the job. I have an old stash of soap nuts that sometimes I draw upon, but they're not up to the school shirt wash and there are questions about how ethical it is to source a product from (usually) India and its surrounds and ship it so far. I gather swathes of indigenous food crops are being grubbed up and replanted with soap nut trees to satisfy western greenie demands too. But I had them before this came to light. And we tried conkers too. We're next to a lot of horse chestnut trees so that made sense. Crush the conkers with a hammer and place a few in a jar with water overnight, strain and use the liquid in the machine, conkers in the compost. They work, they really do! Conkers have natural saponins (soaps) that clean, but they're sadly seasonal (and we'd need to collect kilos of the things, before the squirrels, to get through the year!)
This is my secret weapon though, and one I'd recommend - washing soda.
It costs £1 per kg and it's widely available. I use a tablespoon per wash and half the liquid I use and it works brilliantly. And it's super effective. (The jar is my attempt to try and make this particular job as pleasurable as possible!) It breaks down harmlessly in the waste water and does a decent job of keeping the machine sparkly too. It's a really simple 'tread lightly' switch and one that saves money. Add it to your shopping list, give it a whirl!
Best get on...
Treading Lightly is simple living, within your means and the means of the planet, and making a minimal impact on the Earth. Find out more here about Catherine, of Barefoot Solutions, does this from day to day.