Month: March 2014

Let’s chew the fat about fat (Part 1)

by D.J. 

When we first got started in Slow Laundry, Cate and I decided to make our own soap. That’s because when you buy commercial detergent, you’re:

1) supporting the “soapocracy” of multinationals that control the soap industry,

2) exposing yourself to all sorts of artificial scents and dyes that mask the natural musky odor and yellow-brown color of real soap, and

3) depriving yourself of the soapmaking experience.

So we make our soap by hand, at home, from lye and animal fat.


This is the kind of top-quality fat you can’t find at chain grocery stores.

Given the amount of fat in the American diet, you’d think it would be easy to get your hands on some good, pure fat. But you’d be wrong. When we started out, we bought fat from the butcher at Safeway. But we started to have philosophical disagreements with the store.

First of all, when they’re cutting steaks, the Safeway butchers just dump all the “waste” fat together in one bucket. They don’t separate out grass-fed fat, hormone-free fat, locally-raised fat, etc.

Second, they refused to give us Safeway Reward points for our fat purchases.

So going forward, we’re no longer buying fat. We’re going to collect our own animal fat, from the wild. DC has urban sprawl for miles and miles, but there are still places to find wildlife – not just Rock Creek Park, but the National Mall, dumpsters and alleys after dark, and the zoo. So look out, chipmunks, rats, and giant pandas, because the Robertsons have clothes to clean.



by Cate

My husband, D.J., and I started this blog because we’ve found that a lot of people are really interested in the Slow Laundry lifestyle but don’t know a lot about it. I get the same questions over and over—“How do you find time to hand-wash all of your clothes when you have two small kids?” “Why don’t you just use a washing machine?” “Would you please come pick up all of the underwear that blew off of your clothesline and landed in my backyard?” “What smells like mildew?”

Whenever someone asks me a question like this, I see it as an opportunity to inform them at length and in painstaking detail about the days-long process of hand-washing clothes using an antique washboard, air-drying them on a clothesline, and making your own laundry detergent from lye and rendered animal fat. Unfortunately, a lot of people have to cut me off before I’m finished—even though I can tell that they are really interested—because they have to get back to grocery shopping or jogging or driving their car alongside mine.

So D.J. and I decided that a blog would be a great way to more fully inform people about how hand-washing is a rewarding and morally superior alternative to using a mechanical washing machine. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoy educating you!

Our backyard

A photo of our “laundry room”! It was totally worth filling in our swimming pool for this.