Pistols at dawn; but only if you’ve got balls.

A couple of years ago I half watched a programme (I only ever get to half watch things) about the last pistol duel in Britain.  I can’t remember a great deal, it took place in the early nineteenth century and involved a man shooting his bank manager I think.  This is understandable, but not excusable I fear.  The one piece of information that I did quite clearly retain, was that in those unwashed days, it was rarely the bullet wound itself that was fatal, but the bacteria from dirty clothing that was dragged into the bloodstream with the bullet.  Oh how things have changed, we can no longer shoot our bank managers without receiving a custodial sentence and most of us are apparently washing clothes that are already clean. 

I was prompted to think about our laundry habits when Sarah popped round with a little pressie for me.  Amazingly she is still talking to me after I made her do the washing-up three times in a row.  (See Battle of the Bubbles)   The little pressie was some eco-balls.  These nifty gadgets are for your washing machine, they contain non-toxic mineral oxides.  Eco-balls claim to replace both laundry powder and conditioner, although you can add conditioner if you want.  

You don't want to get shot in these!

Don't get shot wearing these!

 But do they work?  I’m never one to give a product an easy time, so I offered to wash The Man from Salford’s  oily overalls.  He normally does this himself and in fact insisted on doing one pair at his usual temperature of 95 degrees and using a conventional laundry powder.  The eco-balls can only be used in a 30 to 60 degree range, of course 30 degrees should be absolutely fine for most of the relatively clean clothes we wash, but I opted for 60 degrees to give the balls a fighting chance.  (Incidentally, I do hope that now they’ve shut down Guantanamo the US govt will be recycling all those orange boiler suits, we would love to help but can only accept cast-offs from extra large terrorists!)

The results?  Well this was never going to be a Daz Doorstep ChallengeYou could probably get shot in these!, but I can honestly say the job done by the eco-balls was just as good as the conventional powder.  They certainly removed all the excess oil although the balls themselves looked pretty black and I will probably reserve them for this task alone now and buy some new ones for my cleaner washing.  My main reservation was not about cleaning ability but the fact that in order for the balls to work effectively you can only use a three-quarter full wash.  This goes against conventional green advice to always wash full loads.  However, if you have a rinse hold option on your machine you can use this, the rinse cycle is unnecessary as the balls do not leave deposits.  If not, I guess you could argue this drawback would be still be offset by less trasportation at all stages, less packaging and less manufacturing.  Lugging boxes of washing powder up a tow-path isn’t that much fun, so from our point of view they do make life a little easier.  For now, they get the thumbs up from me. 

Remember where possible to wear clothes until they are actually dirty, I’m trying to beat my current record of three days in the same pair of jeans, we do get pretty mucky!  Choose clothes that don’t show dirt, either dark or with complex patterns. Wash wherever practical at 30 degrees, you will be using 40% less electricity.  I also enjoy buying crinkle clothes, I love just screwing them up and stuffing them behing a radiator once washed, no ironing needed!  And remember for lights and whites the best bleaching agent is natural sunshine. 

This week I will be resting  easy knowing that if anyone shoots The Man from Salford he will not die as a result of unwashed overalls. 

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