We can survive for weeks without food and days without water. But without clothes, the elements will kill us in minutes.Clothing is the bridge that connects our physical selves to the world around us.

For nearly all of human history, nothing was more important than our clothes. We can survive for weeks without food and days without water. But without clothes, the elements will kill us in minutes. We form with our clothes a symbiotic, sustainable relationship – we create and care for them, and they shield and warm us so that we can live in and with nature.

It is no exaggeration to say that your relationship with your clothes should be the most important one in your life. (You might ask, “But what about my family? My friends?” No. Wrong.)

Clothesline
Doing laundry with a machine instead of with our hands means we can’t truly understand how it became clean, or what made it dirty.Until the industrial era, our relationship with clothing was a deeply meaningful and spiritual one. And this relationship consisted mainly of cleansing the clothes, a physical ritual of renewal and purification that reconnected us with our clothes.

Artificial, mechanized laundry severs this connection. On the most fundamental level, doing laundry with a machine instead of with our hands means we can’t truly understand how it became clean, or what made it dirty.

Hand-washing our clothes restores this bond. When we feel the roughness of the fabric and use the strength in our hands to wring it dry, we tap into the core of our oldest and most important relationship with the natural world. By hand-washing our clothes, we recapture a slice of the more authentic life that has been eroded by machines.

Slow Laundry is not for everyone. There is a reason our landscape is dominated by “fast food” restaurants, laundromats and appliance stores – many people prefer cheap, easy and fast, regardless of the cost. But for those dissatisfied with the creeping industrialization of our world, Slow Laundry offers a return to a more meaningful life.

About John Sage

John Sage harvesting wild bat lard for soapmaking.

John Sage harvesting wild bat fat for soapmaking.

Even from an early age, Slow Laundry visionary John Sage wore clothes. But growing up in a cookie-cutter suburb where social status was determined by who had the most expensive dryer, he never had a chance to understand clothes on a deeper level.

Later in life, a shattering encounter with a washing machine changed the way John thought about clothes, and about himself. He sold his possessions, destroyed his washing machine by sending a brick through on “delicates,” and retreated to a cabin deep in the Alaska wilderness to find the soul of laundry.

Three years later, Sage emerged from the woods clad only in a surprisingly clean deerskin cape, waving a wash paddle in the air. To the Alaska Highway Patrolman who promptly arrested him, Sage decried, “To cleanse society, we must first cleanse our souls. And to cleanse our souls, we must first cleanse our clothes. By hand.”

The cabin where Sage discovered the fivefold path to laundry wisdom.

The Alaska cabin where Sage discovered the fivefold path to laundry wisdom.

Not content to keep this knowledge to himself, John published “Truth and Lyes” in 2012 to widespread acclaim. And from that tiny flake of soap, a mighty soap bubble has grown.

John is currently working on a new book due out next year tentatively titled “Slow Dentistry: Recapturing the Magic.” He lives in Los Angeles with his wife June, where he organizes community washes and laundry exchanges, contemplates, and grows his beard longer.