It may or may not be a coincidence that my manual washer came the same week my washing machine stopped working properly. Either way, it was just the push I needed to give hand washing clothes a try. Today, I pulled out my wash tubs and new plunger washer, and set to work getting our laundry done. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny day. Perfect for the task.
Of course once I started washing all of the kids were fascinated with my new gadget, and wanted to give it a try. Little Elias was so funny. It was all I could do to get my laundry done without his little hands grabbing a hold of the handle and trying to “help”. And then he wanted to throw muddy sticks into the water. Which was lovely.
Speaking of mud… see how much water was all over the ground around the tub? It took me a few minutes before I realized the cause.
I realize these galvanized tubs probably weren’t the best idea after all. I’m going to get two of those big plastic toy storage tubs (the round ones with rope handles) to use instead. They seem heavy duty enough that they wouldn’t break easily, or spring a leak.
I was also thinking I’d like to have my husband install a faucet/spigot at the bottom of each tub so that I could drain the water easily when I’m finished with it (like what you see on the rain barrel above). Today, when the water got too dirty to use, I had to scoop it out with a bucket and haul it into the woods to empty. The wash tubs were much too heavy to lift and carry to a good place to be dumped out. That scooping and hauling took a lot of time and energy. If I can drain the tubs through a faucet, and maybe attach a hose to direct the flow to a good runoff spot, that would make things easier.
I could tell the manual washer was working because the water got really dirty. When it comes time to wash my jeans (especially my work jeans as I’m so fashionably sporting above), I’ll break out my washboard and scrub brush and see how much of that dirt I can get out with a little elbow grease. I wasn’t really sure how long I should continue plunging, so I just counted to 100 with each load.
A wringer would have been nice. I twisted each garment the best I could before hanging it on the line to dry. Maybe one day I’ll luck up on a wringer for a good deal.
Since the clothes were still pretty wet when they were hung, I’ll have to leave them on the line overnight to finish drying tomorrow.
I noted that I used 3/4 of the water from the barrel. That’s quite a lot. Again, I attribute that to the leak. I was pretty conservative, and used the rinse water as the wash water when the wash water got too dirty to use anymore, and just kept swapping them out like that. I also followed the rule of washing the cleanest items first, and dirtiest last. I’m confident that next time around I won’t use nearly as much water.
My hands feel dryer than usual now. Maybe it was the Borax. I’m thinking I’ll probably have to make a nice herbal hand salve to restore the moisture to my hands after a day of doing laundry.
Those are pretty much all of my observations during my first attempt at hand washing the laundry. It really wasn’t bad at all! I’m excited to get a proper washing station in order so that I can really knock it out quickly.
Any advice from those of you who have been hand washing for years? What’s your favorite natural detergent to wash with?