Well I made it through Week Four of the super fantastic cold-water washing/eco-detergent/air drying challenge. Because I have been trying to make this both an urban and a non-urban (i.e the yard of my parents’ house) experience, Week Four was meant to be a non-urban one. But we didn’t go upstate. So it was another odd attempt to air dry in my New York City apartment. If you have been following along, you will recall that I have always been a cold-water washer (unless I’m doing sheets for allergy reasons) and an eco-detergent user. So really this challenge for me has been about air-drying. My last two weeks of urban air-drying involved a drying rack with PVC ropes too smelly to leave inside, followed by a week when the amount of laundry I hung on my shower rod broke it.

This week was pretty uneventful. The weather has been insanely hot, which means the clothing we’re wearing is pretty skimpy. This means less laundry. I was able to go a full week and a half until I had two stuffed loads – one mainly sheets and towels. I had installed a new shower rod but still haven’t managed to purchase a different drying rack, so I made use of the shower rod, and did the usual drape everything all over the apartment scenario. I cheated on the towels. They weren’t getting dry and were on the verge of smelling. But at least 1 dryer load for 2 wash loads is better than 2.

The organizers of this challenge – Seventh Generation – sent me some end-of-project questions to fill out and I thought I’d share them and my responses here.

1.       What was the easiest part of the laundry challenge and why?

Cold water washing and using the eco-detergent. I have already been doing these for years.

2.    What was the hardest and why?

Several things.

*Figuring out how to air dry inside an apartment.
I see how it can work and work well, but I don’t yet have the right equipment and the dryer is a very useful and lifelong habit. It’s a real mind shift.

Line drying outside on a sunny, lightly breezy day was, well, a breeze. But add some clouds and some downpours and it’s really hard to figure it all out. I’m usually only upstate for 2 days at a time and it can take longer than that to line dry if the weather isn’t perfect, which it rarely is.

You need to have a lot of it to make it work. Some days I hardly have enough time to sleep. Putting the clothes from the washer directly onto hangers to dry saves some time. I’ve been doing that.

3.       What techniques will you continue to use, now that the challenge has concluded?

I’m going to give up warm water washing my sheets. I do it for allergies, but if/when they’re not acting up I’m not going to turn up the temperature to kill the dust mites. I’m dedicating myself to figuring out the right air drying equipment for my small urban apartment and creating a system for how to make it work for me. I have already started this process, but it will take more than a month of laundry (I only do 2 loads a week). In my current apartment, it may also mean 2 loads of wash and 1 dryer load. I am not confident I have adequate ventilation to air dry completely wet towels in my apartment. That said, if and when we move – and we do have vague plans to – I will take air drying into account. We want a little outdoor space for many reasons, and I will add being able to line dry to the list.