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Ok To Wash Clay Clothes In Washing Machine?

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I have a trap in my studio sink to prevent clay from clogging the plumbing, but nothing at the washing machine.

 

Should I be concerned that washing clothes splattered with clay will clog the pipes or cause other plumbing issues? If so, is there anything I can do — other than becoming a neater potter who doesn't wipe his hands on his pants — to prevent this?

 

Thanks

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Why not pre rinse the stuff in the studio sink so the crud goes in there. We have a washer at our studio but it drains into the sink with the drain trap. 

 

Using Calgon as a dispersing agent in your laundry might also help but not sure about your drain.  

 

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buy an apron or some towels.  put a 5 gallon bucket next to your studio sink and dump all of them into it.  once you get tired of cleaning up the mess, you will probably become a neater potter.  (a damp towel in a dishpan near your messiest job is such a simple solution.)

Pres and Mark (Marko) Madrazo like this

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Thanks, everyone, for the helpful suggestions! I will try drying and then rinsing in a bucket before washing.

 

oldlady, I will always admire neat potters and strive to emulate them, but realistically I don't think it's in my nature to become a person who can throw pots all day without making some kind of mess!  :wacko:

GiselleNo5 likes this

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I prerinse the really covered items. I read here by Pres maybe that your washing machine may go a few years before it's time. Mark on the other hand has a dedicated washer for just this purpose I suppose. As far as clogging up your pipes I would say the lesser the better.

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Really doubting this is even an issue. The speed and turbulence of water movement in a washing machine is going to be moving those quickly-suspended, mostly micron-sized (or 100 mesh sized) clay particles at a high flow speed right out of the washing machine and down the drain.

 

The normal commercial sized washing machine at our community studio does a few loads of pretty clay-ey bath towels each week and has been going no problem for 4 years. Clay is probably one of the least troublesome forms of dirt for a washing machine,if you think what else they have to deal with.

D.M.Ernst and Saki like this

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Hi Curt,

 

My concern was less the machine than the plumbing pipes. Even if the clay doesn't clog the machine, isn't the water expelled into the pipes where it could settle and cause a clog?

 

Thanks,

s

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No, there shouldn't be a problem in the pipes either. Think about all the TP goes down the same pipes without a problem. Wads of paper would clog something much faster than clay.

There would eventually be a need to pump the septic tank. But unlikely to be much sooner than it normally would.

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My clay clothes aren't thickly coated in clay and I just throw them into the washing machine - sometimes on their own other times with other items - on a hot wash. Never had a problem. All sorts of other dirt (children's muddy clothes, gardeners', builders etc.) stuff gets washed and we don't hear the same worries about them, so I assume the system will cope with my apron and towels!

GiselleNo5 and D.M.Ernst like this

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Hi Curt,

My concern was less the machine than the plumbing pipes. Even if the clay doesn't clog the machine, isn't the water expelled into the pipes where it could settle and cause a clog?

Thanks,

s

In my early days of having a studio in my basement, I managed to clog my drain pipe twice. It wasn't in my traps or laundry machines. The clog was somewhere between my house and the street. Some of it was from washing my clay-covered hands and tools, but I think most of it was from mopping my floors and putting dirty mop water down the sink. I was used to working in a community studio where washing large amounts of crud down the sink didn't seem to matter. But my residential drain was different. My house is 80 yrs old, who knows what condition the drain pipe is in. Your drain might be newer and more capable.

 

I think it's a matter of volume. I still wash my pottery clothes at home because my clothes don't get terribly dirty. But I wash my hands and tools in buckets, and finish washing things in the sink when they are "bucket-clean" already. Twice a year I take all the towels to a big laundromat. All of my floor mopping water gets tossed outside, and those buckets rinsed with the outside hose. So my drain can handle some amount of clay, but I know there's a limit.

 

I wouldn't worry about it too much. If you start noticing all of your drains slowing or backing up, a plumber can clear this up quickly. And then you'll know the limits of what you can do, and can change your habits. I haven't had any problems with my drain for over 10 years now.

Saki likes this

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The concern would be if you had a belly in your drain pipe(s)for clay, waste etc. to collect. I have this issue and flush a lot of water down my clean out twice a year to clean out my drain pipe to the sewer. Since doing this for the last three years I have not had to call out a plumber. I would probably do this if I relocated to maintain a clean path to the sewer. A call to a plumber is about $175 to roto the pipe on a call is $300 plus. I also add a power cleaning enzyme a few times a year to break down the organics cost is about $20 a year. 

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I am (FINALLY) getting ready to set up a home studio.  I've had the plumber over for a variety of issues in this near-60 year old home that seems to still have nearly all the original plumbing (except the bathroom sink).  I have shutoffs that won't budge, etc.

 

But the BIG thing for me is that the former owner moved the washer/dryer/water heater out into the garage.  The water heater is not so much a problem - but the washing machine is because I have to run a heater out there to keep it from freezing pretty much all winter.

 

And - they took out the utility sink altogether.  I sort of understand much of this due to how small the kitchen is (which is where all this was kept previously) but schlepping laundry in and out of the garage at my age is no fun.

 

At any rate I need the utility sink, and consequently the sink trap.  So can I move the washing machine back inside and drain it out through the utility sink with the clay trap installed?  MY plumber was very negative about the idea of putting the sink trap in the regular kitchen sink because he thought that was too much non-clay water to run through the trap - but wouldn't it be even worse with a washing machine?

 

All the old washer hook ups are still there (hot and cold and the drain in the kitchen where the washer used to be is capped, the drain is run into that drain from the garage so it is still in use and clear).  I am hoping to be able to use the utility sink for my clay, the washing machine, and a portable dishwasher.  He seemed fine with the portable dishwasher running through the clay trap under a utility sink, but not regular sink water if I put the clay trap on the regular kitchen sink (which I would get a deep farm kitchen type of sink if I did that).  Frankly I don't get why the regular sink would be an issue when the dishwasher is not.

 

Basically one wall of my current kitchen would now be taken up by the washer and a utility sink and a small area for a desk/work area, and I'd just schlep the dishwasher in when I needed it until such time (if ever) as I can install an 18" dishwasher next to the sink (VERY small kitchen if I bring the washing machine back in from the garage).

 

What consequences are there for running a washing machine through the same trap?  Then adding the dishwasher which would probably get used only once or twice a week (same for the washing machine actually).

 

Does the amount of water flow make a difference in the size of trap or something?

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Maybe it is a food-water/organic/bacteria issue? Gut instinct tells me to keep clay sink seperate from anything like kitchen sink or dishwasher that has food, grease and similar stuff running through it.

 

Similarly, mixing clay water with grease in a sink trap sounds like a recipe for disaster IMHO. Free clay particles which are normally suspended and moving along easily could potentially become a major blocking agent when glued together with cooking grease, oil or similar.

 

A clothes washing machine may be somewhere in between in terms,of what is in the waste water. Most of what is in laundry detergent is salt I think. Clothing fibers, etc may not be as bad but just speculation on my part here.

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The simple P trap is to prevent sewer smells from coming back into the house.

A clay trap is for collecting sediments.

 

I would not run a washing machine through the clay trap. The fast flow of 40 gallons of water would pick up the sediments you are hoping to leave still.

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I've been thinking about this lately and may have come up with a workable solution.

 

Use only the rinse cycle (with no soap) and divert the water into a 50 gallon rain barrel which in turn waters your garden. After the rinse one could run a regular load of items and the water would then go into the septic/sewer line

 

Our washing machine happens to be under a window, for us it would be easy to accomplish.

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I figured out my method because I used to cloth diaper my kids when they were wee. I will also say I have a huge, water guzzling top loader, not one of the super efficient front loaders that weighs the load and judges the water to be used, etc.

 

Rinse out any cloths or towels that have chunks attached into a bucket of water, and let that settle. Add to your reclaim once you siphon it off. Make sure you only have about half a washer load, but use the full load setting for the water level. Use the long wash with extra rinse. Don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets, but some washing soda or calgon is a good idea.

I'm five years in to doing it this way in my studio, and I've not had any issues. My house is a spec home that was built in 1973.

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Well sadly not being able to drain the washing machine through the clay trap means I can only have one or the other.  I am not physically capable of schlepping 5 gallon buckets of water around for clay waste, I need to be able to rinse at the sink.  Garbage cans would be even worse and in order to "pre-rinse" at least some clay tools I would need something a lot bigger than a 5 gallon paint bucket.  I could manage a wringer bucket on wheels (without the wringer) for some pre-rinse, but still need the utility sink with the clay trap.

 

Is there TRULY no solution?  I thought the idea was that you NEEDED to have a washing machine go through the clay trap to wash towels and whatnot safely.

 

And yes the washing machine pumps water out at high force, but that water goes into the utility sink and drains as normal - the water is not being forced into the drain, just pumped into the sink where it drains normally.  So I don't see that velocity of water is an issue at that point, though volume may be.

 

Wouldn't I just clean the trap and discard as normal, regardless of what is going through there?  I thought the whole idea was to keep things from getting to the actual drains ...

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if your washing machine drains into a sink, are you able to scrape the residue from the bottom of the sink?  if so, consider putting in a simple plastic pipe that closely  fits the hole in the sink.  drill several holes in that pipe and set it into the drain hole.  if the holes are drilled a few inches above the drain hole, water will filter itself into the drain.  it might be a little slow to do so, but it will.  just be sure the quantity of water from the washer is not overwhelming the sink.

 

at some point when the residue is sufficient, take the pipe out so it is not in the way and use a wide  putty knife to remove the scrapings to a trash container and dispose of it in your regular trash.

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