What is Slow Laundry?

  • Slow Laundry is a growing grassroots movement based on the conviction that we should return to a more natural and authentic way of living through hand-washing and air-drying our clothes.

Will my clothes really get clean if I hand-wash them? 

  • Hand-washed clothes are not as sterile and antiseptic as machine-washed clothes. Similarly, a nourishing meal cooked on a hot stove with love and local ingredients will never be as cheap or quick as a super-sized fast food “value” meal. If you’re the kind of person who prefers the fast food meal, Slow Laundry might not be for you.

Doesn’t doing laundry with a washing machine save time?

  • Absolutely not.

    Unless by “save” you mean “reduce.” Yes, maybe a machine will help you reduce time, if that’s what you really want to do. But it will not help you “save” it in the sense of rescue, protect and restore.

    Our great-grandparents knew that the hours and hours they spent hand-washing laundry were treasured opportunities to reflect, daydream, and ponder their place in the cosmos. This wisdom has been lost to the modern world, leaving so many of us feeling lost and adrift.

    Do you feel like there is something missing from your life, a gaping and hollow emptiness, and you don’t know how to fill it? In all likelihood, the answer is “spending dozens of hours each week doing laundry.”

How do I dry clothes when it’s cold, cloudy, raining or snowing?

  • Slow Laundry rejects the Western notion that nature should bend to our schedules. Instead, it seeks to be in harmony with nature’s rhythms. And yes, this might mean waiting to do laundry until a warm, sunny day. Many have found that achieving synchronicity with the weather by waiting weeks or even months between washes has helped them become more connected with their own natural oils, scents and essences.

Can I use regular detergent with a washboard?

  • First, question your assumptions. What is soap? What does it do? Are you using commercial detergent because you want to, or because society expects you to? What kind of soap to use – and whether to use it at all – is a personal decision. But Slow Laundry pioneer John Sage recommends that those interested in washing their clothes more consciously consider making soap at home. His bestselling book Truth and Lyes includes recipes for several heirloom soaps using a range of wood ashes and animal fats.

What kind of washboard is best?

  • Most Slow Launderers don’t think about washboards in terms of “best.” Instead, they seek a washboard (or wash paddle, or possing-stick, etc) that they can form a harmonious, symbiotic bond with. To find the right washboard for you, ask yourself: what are my strengths and weaknesses as a person? And which natural material represents the mirror image of those strengths and weakness, so that by joining together we will create a complete whole? Wood? Zinc? Glass? Tin? Stone? (It will need to be one of those.)

How do I get started?

  • Many people start by buying and reading John Sage’s Truth and Lyes. In that book, you’ll find the story of clothes, an exposé of the secretive and powerful laundry industry, Sage’s eightfold path to laundry mindfulness, and tips for treating sore knees, aching muscles, splinters, irritated skin, pressure blisters, lye burns, and mildew odor.
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