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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Laundry: Country Style

frugal living, laundry, washtub
    We live in the country and do not have "city" water but we do have wells. The problem with our wells (and we have 3) are that they tend to dry up rather quickly. Because of this, we cannot use a washing machine. Besides that, we have not owned a "conventional" washer or dryer in over 5 years.  I got really tired of going to the Laundromat so I began doing some internet searching for ways to wash at home. We kind of combined ideas from many different places online and this is what works for us.

My husband Ron can bust out a load of laundry (gather, wash, rinse, and hang up) in about 30 minutes. We combined several other people's designs and came up with our "washer". It is a red plunger attached to a mop handle and he just uses it in a 5 gallon bucket.  My husband cut 3 quarter sized holes with an exacto knife on the plunger. He then adds a 1/2 bucket of clean water, 2-3 Tablespoons of laundry detergent (that I make myself), and then begins to move the plunger up and down and in circular motions.   He gets into a rhythm and plunges the clothes about as good as any agitator in an electric machine.
He double rinses the clothes in 2 wash tubs (with vinegar added to soften the clothes) and then hangs them out to dry. We let them dry in the sun.
Our clothes are clean and they smell wonderful. We have been doing this for about a year now and it works for us. I will NOT go to a Laundromat again! :-)
Here is the link to the homemade fabric softener!
If you have any questions or comments, we would gladly answer your questions and appreciate your comments.

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25 comments:

  1. How neat. I love how you stepped out of the box and make it work for you all. I bet you are glad not to have to got to the Laundromat. :)

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    1. Not going to the laundromat is WONDERFUL! It saves us gas, time and money. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. How long does your husband agitate the clothes?

    Thanks for the post!

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    1. Harper,
      Depending on how dirty that particular load is how long he "agitates" the clothes. For normal wear, about a minute or so. For dirty socks and really dirty clothes, about 2 1/2-3 minutes.
      Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again,
      Melody

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  3. That is AWESOME and I would do it if I were in a similar situation! One question: what about in winter?? I mean, I've read all the Little House books and they hung clothes to freeze-dry in the winter, but are you going to wash in the kitchen and then hang in the house? (I do use drying racks a fair bit!)

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    1. Jaimie,
      We have really mind winters where we live. When it does get bad or really cold, hubby just puts on his coveralls and does it anyway. We have done the clothes indoors before and I do hang them out to dry in the living room and bathroom.
      Thanks for your comments and for dropping by!
      Melody

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    2. I remember hanging clothes out in winter...I also remember bloody knuckles where my skin would crack and bleed....it was a chore NOT to get blood on the clean clothes. But I also remember that smell....No one will ever replicate it in a lab.

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  4. Hi,

    would this washing method work for dirty, oily, farm clothes? We bought one of those washers that don't have the agitator because the salesman really "sold it", but we are so disappointed. When it comes to normal soil, it does fine, but farming clothes, it just can't cut it. My husband knows that I can't get them clean, but it still bothers the "wife" in me!

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    1. Yes, it could work for the dirty and oily farm clothes but I would add in a squirt of Dawn to get the oil out. This way of washing doesn't get all the stains out but gets them smelling nice and clean enough for farm work, house work and general living. My nicer outfits I wash separately.

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  5. If you have a greenhouse, you could sit your bucket of water in side it and the sun will heat the water for you.

    DHicks

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  6. I have kept this in the back of my mind for future reference and how thankful I am! My washer died yesterday and of course when I had let the laundry pile up. Had a couple loads of cloth diapers that needed done and I did it this way. I only had to hand scrub a couple of them, but they all got clean this way! So now at least they won't be stinking up the house until we get a new washer. I didn't have a plunger (weird, I know) but I used my Mr. Clean telescoping scrubber and it worked great! Thank you for this. I've gotten cabin fever and am temped to do as much laundry as I can this way until we get a washer.

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    1. Jen, I am so glad you tried this. We actually really enjoy doing laundry this way in the spring time and summer time. Nothing like being outside in the fresh air and doing laundry!

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  7. Do you wring the clothes by hand and does that get most of the water out? I would think that's hard to do with towels.

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    1. Hello, yes we wring the clothes out by hand. It does get most of the water out. My hubby and my 15 year old son do all the towels. They just wring them really well. A good 6-8 hours in the sun gets them all good and dry. Even when I wring them out myself, the jeans and towels keeps some water in them but drip out and dry well too.

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  8. Our washer broke so I tried the local laundromat (YIKES!!!) It cost a small fortune so I refuse to go back. I have my plunger and bucket ready, just wondering how many items he puts in at a time and does he dump the water with each new addition of laundry.

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    Replies
    1. Mel, we put 3-4 shirts in at a time or a pair of jeans and some socks or a towel and a few pairs of underwear at a time. We do not dump the water after each new addition of laundry. We do about a laundry basket full of clothes per bucket.

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  9. Interesting! Have you washed cloth diapers?

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  10. Our washer gave out this past summer. Thankfully it was right after I finished washing all the dirty clothes and had moved on to random blankets that needed washing. I waited as long as I could, then made a trip to the laundry mat to wash (I came home to dry them or hang them to dry). Just that alone was enough for me to realize that using the laundromat was NOT an economical way in the long run.

    We had to also use it this past winter when it was so cold for too long and the washer froze up. The "coolness" of it all only lasts so long on kids before they start getting antsy and into trouble. Thankfully it is never really busy. Still would not want to do it regularly. Thanks for giving me an alternative if it happens again.

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  11. Just wondering how you do sheets for a king or queen sized bed with this method? Pretty sure they won’t fit into that 5 gallon bucket...

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    1. No, they won't fit into a 5 gallon bucket but they will fit into the washtub shown above. For the larger items, we just use it to wash the clothes, along with the washboard. Works nicely and then after rinsing it well, hubby and son wring it out and hang it up. :-)

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  12. I have a tip that you could use to wring the clothes dry. Get one lidded 5 gallon bucket and one 5 gallon bucket without the lid with holes punched in the sides and bottom. Put clothes in the bucket with the holes and use the other bucket to squish the clothes dry by sitting on it.

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