Economical, Cooler Use of Your Dishwasher

When the weather is hot, use your dishwasher in the late evening, and turn off the heated drying feature. The glasses and dishes will dry naturally overnight. Your place will not heat up as much, and because heat has a bad effect on polymers, rubber and plastics, the items made with those components will last much longer without it.

©M-J de Mesterton 2010

Hand-Washing Shirts

Safe, Quick and Inexpensive Hand-Washing of Shirts and Blouses: the Alternative to Dry-Cleaning
Fine shirts are cared-for properly with hand-washing and line-drying.

From The Clothes Line: Elegant Survival of Your Clothing

The Clothes Line, an Elegant Survival Original, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006
The Clothes Line, an Elegant Survival Original, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006

Clothes dryers are energy-wasters, and will ruin your clothes as well, through fiber-loss and shrinkage. Hand-washing and line-drying your shirts will extend their lives. I use Zote soap and a microfiber cloth to rub dirt out of cuffs and collars. Underarms need special attention, too. I use a microfibre cloth instead of a brush because it is more gentle on the fabric, while strong enough to grab what I like to call “café crud” from cuffs. You don’t need a fancy contraption for clothes-drying; a five-dollar investment in a clothesline from Walmart, and a packet of wooden clothespins for about three dollars will do. Having a couple of trees to hold your clothesline at each end is lucky indeed, but in their absence, wooden posts can be installed.

When travelling, pack a small piece of Zote or Octagon bar-soap for hand-washing dainties and shirts in your quarters. The shower is a nice place to hang them; they will likely dry overnight, and probably not need ironing.  You might pack a couple of clothes-pins as well.

The sun and Zote soap both act as  fabric-brighteners, and your clothes will have a clean, fresh scent if treated to a sun-bath.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2009

Rival Crock-Pots and Slow-Cooker Appliances Save Energy

Making my European meat sauce on a gas range or electric cook-top always made me wonder about the energy consumption involved. From now on, I am going to cook it in an electric slow-cooker. It will not only enhance the flavor of my sauce, but prevent it from scorching.

Today’s Crock-Pots, an invention by by Rival company, are very energy-efficient compared with  gas-fired ovens, electric cook-top, gas-stoves or toaster ovens, and even wood-stoves. These units, commonly called “slow-cookers”,  run on 100 watts of electricity. If used twice weekly, for eight hours at a time,  your slow-cooker will consume about forty cents’ worth of energy per month.

Slow-cooking is a way to make inexpensive cuts of meat tender, as in New England boiled beef or stews. There are plenty of recipes on the internet which call for the use of an electric slow-cooker, including ones which employ dry beans, an excellent source of low-cost protein and fiber. Rival has a great recipe for boeuf Bourguignon on its Crock-Pot web-site. Bon appétit!

Elegant Survival: Conserving Water

Conserving Water


Flowering in the Desert, copyright M-J de Mesterton 2007

The price of water is going up, and its availability in some locations is scarce. There are some things you can do to keep whatever water you do have from going down the drain in vain.Bathing usually uses less water than showering. Whether you bathe or shower, keeping the drain plugged will allow you to use this “gray water” later for other purposes.

Use the bath water to give your outdoor plants a drink. They especially like Epsom salts, a time-honored fertilizer in England.

Use a large, gallon-sized pitcher of bath water to flush your toilet. Pouring it down fast creates a flush; sometimes you will want to do this twice. A tubful of water can constitute twenty or more flushes. It works great.

While running water to get it hot, fill pitchers, glasses, any empty vessels you have handy until the water gets hot enough to use, saving the cooler water for drinking later.

Water doesn’t grow on trees!

Photo and Conservation Tips Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2008

Hand-Washed, Sun-Dried Shirts: a Natural Luxury


Washing and Drying Your Shirts
A well-made shirt can cost $500.00 or more. That is an investment to protect. Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Ideally, one would hang shirts on a clothesline, upside down, with clothespins. This keeps pinch-marks off the important areas of your shirts. The sun will dry them in no time. Alternatively, one could hang them indoors, perhaps out-of-sight behind the the shower curtain, on hangers. A sturdy spring-rod, placed inside the shower area for the purpose of hanging clothes to dry will not interfere with your existing shower-rod. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt, which will die an angry death before its time. My husband and I have shirts from France and England that are twenty years old, and in perfect condition.

An electric, energy-consuming dryer is an enemy to high-quality clothing. In fact, dryers shrink clothes and wear them out quickly; lint is composed of fibers that a machine robs from your clothes. You’d be surprised at how swiftly shirts dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, they’re easy to iron. In cases of stubborn collar and cuff soil, when hand-scrubbing fails, you can still wash your white shirts in hot water, soap, and a little bleach if necessary, as long as they are rinsed well, and then hung to dry. (Bleach alternative may be a better choice, if you can get it to work on stubborn stains.) Bleach is to be used only after stain-removal steps like soaking in Zote soap or Octagon have been attempted without success. Always use as little bleach as possible, diluted before adding to wash-water, and only on white shirts. Bleach has a corrosive effect on your shirt’s fibers. The sun will do some natural bleaching of white cotton. Save costly energy and prolong the life of your shirts by hand-washing and sun-drying them.

Giving your precious shirts to a dry-cleaner or other laundry service is wasteful. They crush buttons and machine-dry the poor things. Do clothes hanging on a line outdoors conjure up bad images for you? Too bad, because it is one of life’s simple luxuries to be able to dry a beautiful, well-made shirt in the sun–some of the best people do it. Believe me, it’s not remotely infradig to care for your own shirts. After all, who cares for them more than you do?

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, May 2008

Sun-Dried Shirts, a Natural Luxury


Washing and Drying Your Shirts

A well-made shirt can cost $500.00 or more. That is an investment to protect. Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Ideally, one would hang shirts on a clothesline, upside down, with clothespins. This keeps pinch-marks off the important areas of your shirts. The sun will dry them in no time. Alternatively, one could hang them indoors, perhaps out-of-sight behind the the shower curtain, on hangers. A sturdy spring-rod, placed inside the shower area for the purpose of hanging clothes to dry will not interfere with your existing shower-rod. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt, which will die an angry death before its time. My husband and I have shirts from France and England that are twenty years old, and in perfect condition.

An electric, energy-consuming dryer is an enemy to high-quality clothing. In fact, dryers shrink clothes and wear them out quickly; lint is composed of fibers that a machine robs from your clothes. You’d be surprised at how swiftly shirts dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, they’re easy to iron. In cases of stubborn collar and cuff soil, when hand-scrubbing fails, you can still wash your white shirts in hot water, soap, and a little bleach, as long as they are rinsed well, and then hung to dry. (Bleach alternative may be a better choice, if you can get it to work on stubborn stains.) The sun will do some natural bleaching of white cotton. Save costly energy and your shirts by hand-washing and sun-drying them.

Giving your precious shirts to a dry-cleaner or other laundry service is wasteful. They crush buttons and machine-dry the poor things. Do clothes hanging on a line outdoors conjure up bad images for you? Too bad, because it is one of life’s simple luxuries to be able to dry a beautiful, well-made shirt in the sun–some of the best people do it. Believe me, it’s not remotely infradig to care for your own shirts. After all, who cares for them more than you do?

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, May 2008

Sun-Dried Shirts, a Natural Luxury


Washing and Drying Your Shirts

A well-made shirt can cost $500.00 or more. That is an investment to protect. Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Ideally, one would hang shirts on a clothesline, upside down, with clothespins. This keeps pinch-marks off the important areas of your shirts. The sun will dry them in no time. Alternatively, one could hang them indoors, perhaps out-of-sight behind the the shower curtain, on hangers. A sturdy spring-rod, placed inside the shower area for the purpose of hanging clothes to dry will not interfere with your existing shower-rod. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt, which will die an angry death before its time. My husband and I have shirts from France and England that are twenty years old, and in perfect condition.

An electric, energy-consuming dryer is an enemy to high-quality clothing. In fact, dryers shrink clothes and wear them out quickly; lint is composed of fibers that a machine robs from your clothes. You’d be surprised at how swiftly shirts dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, they’re easy to iron. In cases of stubborn collar and cuff soil, when hand-scrubbing fails, you can still wash your white shirts in hot water, soap, and a little bleach, as long as they are rinsed well, and then hung to dry. (Bleach alternative may be a better choice, if you can get it to work on stubborn stains.) The sun will do some natural bleaching of white cotton. Save costly energy and your shirts by hand-washing and sun-drying them.

Giving your precious shirts to a dry-cleaner or other laundry service is wasteful. They crush buttons and machine-dry the poor things. Do clothes hanging on a line outdoors conjure up bad images for you? Too bad, because it is one of life’s simple luxuries to be able to dry a beautiful, well-made shirt in the sun–some of the best people do it. Believe me, it’s not remotely infradig to care for your own shirts. After all, who cares for them more than you do?

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, May 2008

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