Thursday, July 23, 2009
Laundry - Kickin' it Old School
The washer stopped working today...and I had three loads of laundry planned. Hubby figured out that it's the switch in the lid, but we still have to find the time to dismantle the washer, possibly get the part, all that. And - I still have all these dirty clothes.
Ever since I started messing with the homemade laundry soap, I have been gathering various things I'd need to do the laundry outdoors. I have everything but a wringer washer (I would LOVE to have a wringer washer!). I even made a little mini washer from a plunger and a 5 gallon bucket! So today, I decided to test my 'stuff' and see how it works.
Most of this stuff serves some other (more normal) purpose. We bathe Little Bit in that blue tub (inside the bathtub in the house - promise!) The galvanized tub is from my own childhood - I used to bathe in it when we lived in the house in Wisconsin (sometimes indoors, sometimes out) and I use it for all sorts of things outdoors. The wagon that's beneath the tubs is a utility wagon, and just made things easier by getting them up off the ground. The mop bucket is for getting water out of the clothing. The bucket that says 'Tidy Cats' is my laundry soap, and the bucket on top of it is my 'washing machine'.
Before I got everything gathered, I put the hoses onto the spigot, filled them, shut off the valves at the ends and left them out in the sun. That's the quickest, easiest way to get hot water.
Then I turned on the radio and got started.
This is the washer - an old 5 gallon paint bucket, cleaned out. A dollar store plunger, and a hole drilled in the lid of the bucket, and that's pretty much the whole deal.
I put in a half cup of laundry soap, filled it about half full of hot water, then agitated to dissolve the soap. You don't want to fill it too full - leave room for the clothes, and to mix things around.
The water from the first hose had turned cold, so I used it to fill the rinse tub.
Water from the second hose (still hot) is used to fill the pre-soak tub. It will end up being warm water (not all hot), but still just fine. I put some clothes in so they could pre-soak - mostly to get them wet and soften up any 'crud' on them.
Then, I put a few of those clothes into the washer. I want them to have enough room to move pretty freely, but enough 'friction' from other stuff to get them clean as well.
Put the lid on, and agitate.
I found that 3 verses of You Are My Sunshine was a good amount of agitation and got most everything clean. There were a few items that needed some extra scrubbing with the wash board, but mostly I got things clean with the little washer.
Take off the lid, take out the plunger, and put the clothing into the mop bucket squeezie thing.
Then, into the rinse water. I let them 'rest' in the rinse water while I was sloshing more tiny loads of laundry. I just added more clear water with each addition of laundry.
Once you've got the rinse tub full, take the hose and rinse any soap residue from the mop bucket.
Rinse the plunger, and use it to agitate the clothing in the rinse water.
Then, squeeze them again in the mop bucket, put them into a laundry basket, and when it's about half full (they are much wetter, and much heavier than machine laundered clothing) go hang them on the clothesline.
(PS - A while back I made a clothespin bag to match that apron. Cute, yes?)
Repeat, repeat, repeat, until all the clothing is washed, rinsed, and hung to dry. I emptied the washer and/or the tubs any time I felt like they needed it, and started with fresh water. I gave the rinse water to the amaranth and quinoa, and the more 'grey' water to surrounding (non food) trees.
For big pieces that you can't squeeze with the mop bucket, you can put them (one at a time) into a plastic laundry basket, turned on its side, so some of the water will drain off. Set it over something like the rinse tub so that the clothing (or in this case, a quilt) doesn't get dirty. Leave it there a good long while, then squeeze it out by hand as best you can and hang it to dry. These were done earlier, since they were the items that were in the washer when it quit working.
I know. I keep switching into 'tutorial speak'...like anyone else is nutty enough to do this. Truth be told, it was a lot of work...and I didn't have to haul the water from a creek, heat it with a fire, any of that. But compared to what we're used to these days for 'doing laundry', this was a lot more physical and a lot more time consuming. It was kinda fun...and kinda cool...but I'll be really glad when the washer is working, hee hee.
I still had to clean up the buckets, tubs, wagon, all that. And meanwhile, Little Bit was playing with them.
And putting dirt in them. Grr.
But eventually, I got everything cleaned up. The clothes went on the line dripping wet, but by nightfall they were just 'really wet'. They should dry some time tomorrow.
UPDATE: The clothes did dry...and it did take part of the next day. Things are a little more wrinkly, but all in all, everything looks pretty good. I was tired the day after - not entirely from the washing, but I did take an afternoon nap. Meanwhile, hubby properly diagnosed the problem (the switch in the lid that tells the machine that it can drain and spin was broken), then he fixed the switch and re-installed it. Yay!