A tip to clean clothes that will not wash | Letter

Handwashing is good in theory, but it does not save as much water as you might think, writes Marian Whittaker

Your article says “Handwashing clothes uses much less water, at about 8 litres a bowl wash and 30 litres for each running-tap wash, compared with an average 50 litres for a washing machine cycle” (UK heatwave: easy ways to save water during a drought, 13 August). I don’t know what a “running-tap wash” is, but 8 litres is about the volume of a washing-up bowl, and would get you the detergent phase of, say, a week’s worth of underpants, depending on your choice of style and fabric. You then need three more bowls of clean water for rinsing, so in total you’ve used 32 litres to wash about 300g of clothes (as measured by my husband’s pants – I weighed them so you don’t have to).

By contrast, your machine wash, using 50 litres, will get you up to about 5kg of clean clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for solutions to climate change that involve guilt-tripping women back into heavy domestic labour. What’s the patriarchy for, after all? But surely a short trip to reality would have revealed this pseudo-stat for what it is?
Marian Whittaker
Fairford, Gloucestershire

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