Laundry, including washing and drying, is not the usual fare for Not A Pedestrian Life. But, you know, they probably should be. Laundering our clothes has to happen, even in the middle of travel!
A row of orange industrial washing machines in a laundromat - <span>Photo by <a href="">Tina Bosse</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a></span>
About 18 months ago, as part of an assessment of our budget and looking for ways to decrease our impact on the environment, we decided to reassess almost every daily activity at home.  We looked at how we shower, brush our teeth, what toilet paper we used, our laundry (washing and drying, ironing and dry cleaning), food waste, and so much more. 

Money Talks

One of the areas we have seen benefits, both in terms of budget – and that means more money for travelling – and our impact on the environment is laundry.

A dryer? What’s that?!

I grew up with a hill’s hoist and no dryer in sight – we wore school uniforms and had a set of play clothes we wore more than one afternoon in a row. If clothes weren’t visibly dirty or smelly they could and were worn again. When I travel, I still mix and match this way.
For those based in the US, I know a dryer is more ubiquitous – in fact we haven’t had a clothesline at a single house in the last 7 years. So, i had to figure out how to do this in a way that aligned with our values.
My two best investments are both ball-shaped!

Washing Balls

I have these balls for the washing machine – (i need about 25% of the amount of laundry detergent using these).
A Note on washing balls: I do still use some detergent. One of the marketing claims is that you can use these to eliminate the use of laundry detergent, however, the scientific research I read showed that without using detergent of some kind the washing balls were only marginally better than washing clothes in hot water alone.

Dryer Balls

Let’s be very clear, when it comes to dryer balls, Quality Matters!  There are plastic versions (and this review – with a scientific approach – suggests the plastic ones do still offer a 13% decrease in drying time).  These are the New Zealand merino wool dryer balls we use – I use 2 balls in each dryer load in our German dryer. I used 3-4 in our large American one. I estimate it cuts drying time down by at least 50% and i don’t have issues with static.
A note on dryer balls: The most popular dryer balls, suggest they will last 1000 cycles or 2-5 years. Sellers of plastic and wool dryer balls make similar claims about how long they will last. Over time, wool dryer balls will start to fray, pill, and shrink. We’ve had ours for over 12 months now and this is barely noticeable. Not bad for such an inexpensive product (<$10 US for the NZ Merino wool dryer balls we recommend). We find that the number of balls needed depends on the size of the machine and the size of the load. In our US dryer, we used 3-4. In our German size dryer we use 2. Most makers of the dryer balls recommend using between 2 and 6 depending on the size of the load.
A couple of myth busters: Dryer balls will not put stress on your dryer drum, they are very light – you will have more issues with larger jackets and heavier clothing items. Using a tennis ball is NOT substitute for using a wool dryer ball.

Travel Tips

I tend not to travel with the washing balls and instead use a concentrated laundry detergent designed for travel (mostly this is a space consideration).
I do travel with 2 dryer balls when we know we will be doing more than one load of laundry – they live in the laundry bag and add no more than 4 ounces of weight. However, if i do launder small items when we travel we tend to do the ‘ole sink wash, agitate, hang in the bathroom to dry method!
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