Problem solving the laundry dilema


In my attempt to green my lifestyle (don’t laugh- I still qualify as attempting), I’m learning that I’m restricted by my climate.

It is FRIGID in Maine. In fact, just this week alone we got nearly two feet of snow. The energy consumption happening in this house is embarrassing. For one, we can’t really cook outside- we’re not allowed to have ovens or fire pits, only grills. Secondly, we can’t and don’t have alternative indoor heat sources- which means we’re using the oil heat provided by the landlord. While it is abounding, we do what we can to conserve.

And then there’s laundry. It used to be during summer hours, that I would wake up before the hot baking sun and wash clothes on the deck with this bugger, my laundry pod. If this looks like something you’d like to try, you can check them out here. Washing clothes and being all wet and soggy is not really a big deal in the summer, but I began to notice it’s toll on me as the temperatures dropped.

My Christmas present from mum- a metal drying rack!

My Christmas present from mum- a metal drying rack!

Now I’ve got a dilemma. I injured my back about a month ago, and the vertebrae between my shoulder blades are chronically inflamed. So now I’ve got to do laundry in a machine…and my washing machine (which I had to scour when I bought it to remove chemical residue), broke.

I was really convinced it was the pump, but when I called a fix-it man on Craigslist, he told me that it sounded like a lid switch. I’m going to be honest- I had no idea what a lid switch was. After an afternoon on Google, I learned what it was, and peaked up underneath the washer lid to discover that indeed, it was broken.

I also learned that it was a seemingly easy fix- if I could get to it. I figured that if I could order the part for $37 and fix it myself, that it would be far cheaper than replacing it with a new used washer for $200. So I ordered the part from, and it was here in a couple of weeks. They also had a video telling me how to replace the part. Here’s what happened:


In order to get to the lid switch, you have to flip back the panel on the top where the knobs are, and remove the washer casing.


That’s the lid switch. What you see in the right is where it broke off. There are two little casings that screws go into, and the constant vibrating of the washer sometimes causes them to break and become unattached, which means there is no pressure from the lid telling it to activate.

The fix was simple- it was getting the washer apart and back together that was a challenge. Dare I say that most people probably would not have adequate tools. I spent 6yrs in a sculpture studio, so I didn’t do too bad myself, but I still needed a ratchet, and was able to borrow one from my maintenance man.

I finally got my washer up and running, and my back is on the mend, but the moral of the story is that sometimes you have to adapt for your disability, and that most of the time, diy is going to be cheaper with repairs.


And what of the laundry pod? I use it when my kid is having an ADHD moment- I fill it with some of her clothes and let her wash them to get out some of her energy πŸ™‚ She takes pride in washing them, and it’s meditative rhythm helps calm her down. Win win.

How to strip…cloth diapers.

I spent my weekend stripping. For those of you in the natural living world, you know exactly what this means. It means there was something funky down under. And I’m not talking glitter.

Nope, my son’s diapers had such a strong ammonia smell that it could have been used for tear gas. Coupled with the horrendous odor, we had absorbancy issues, and blisters from ammonia burn. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I was using tea tree oil to disinfect them, and I was using Calgon and doing a second wash to rinse out the soap. On top of that, my soap was homemade.

The problem was, I wasn’t doing it right. I have hard water, which means that the buildup wasn’t just from soap or other substances, it was from the mineral buildup as well. When buildup occurs on your diapers, it then harbors bacteria and odors.

After extensive research, I finally successfully stripped my diapers, and I’m going to tell you how, here.

First, bleach your diapers with hot water. I’m not talking peroxide. I’m not talking Green Works bleach. I’m talking the shit that’s $2/gallon at Walmart that pollutes our public water supply. When your diapers are so built up and far gone that you have knock-out odors and blisters on your baby, you pull out the big guns. And if you stay on top of it from now on, you may never have to use this hideous product again. This is not for whitening. This is to kill those nasties. I added 1.5c of bleach to a fully loaded top loader with a cup and a half of homemade laundry detergent.

Then, I started the washer back up again on hot and add 2-3 caps of Calgon. Let the washer agitate (leave the lid open) and let the diapers soak overnight. When you wake up, shut the washer and let it spin and rinse.

Next, one by one pull out your covers and liners. On the inside of the diaper covers and on both sides of the liners, spray Bum Genius’s natural enzymes. As you spray them, just put them back into the empty washer. When they’re all done, just let them sit in there for an hour. Then, fill the washer again on hot and use one wash’s worth of Bum Genius’s cloth diaper detergent. You can get both of these products at

When the load is done, put your inserts in the dryer and your covers on the line or a drying rack. Bam. Clean, stripped diapers.