Hand washing clothes???

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by tngirl, Jun 19, 2004.

  1. tngirl

    tngirl Well-Known Member

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    I'm thinking of starting to wash my family's clothes by hand. But, how do I do it? I have a galvanized tub and I'm going to buy one of those plunger cone contraptions from the Lehman's website. Is that all I need? And how much water do I use? Do I need to wash first and then do it again before I rinse. Also, how much water should I expect to use? I'm staying at an aunt's house and she's really nitpicky about things that she wouldn't exactly do herself ( ei. hand washing clothes instead of using the washing machine ). Her washing machine doesn't agitate well at all, so when the clothes come out they still smell. BADLY!
    Can anyone help me with this question?
     
  2. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    You don't need a fancy cone plunger. One from the dollar store works just as well. Get plastic if you can, some of the rubber ones can mar the clothes.

    They will get cleaner if you soak them at least an hour in hot soapy water. Get all the clothes saturated, then leave them at least an hour. Not so long that the water gets cold. When you put your soap in try to hit most of the more dirty spots with the concentrated soap. Slosh em up and down as long as your arm holds out. Get as much of the water as you can out. A hand crank wringer is wonderful to have but not essential. Before rinsing look at the garment and check for dirty spots. Put a little extra soap and rub the spot.

    Rinse in hot water, wring out and rinse again. A cup of vinegar in the first wash will soften clothes and take out a lot of residual soap.

    Small loads will come cleaner with less effort than large loads.

    Hanging clothes in the sun and air will take out a lot of the stains.

    Are you using home made soap or store bot. (Just curious).

    I haven't had a washer in several years and have been hand washing. It really isn't that bad.

    Another tip. Put your tubs up as high as you can to make it easier on your back.

    A wash board is a nice thing to have.
     

  3. How big is your family? If you have 3-4 children, your work is cut out for you. Hand-washing clothes is hard work. You'll need to use fairly warm water for your whites and you also need a scrub board. If you don't know what that is your aunt should be able to fill you in. You can buy them at some hardware stores. You'll need a tub for washing and one for rinsing. They should be rinsed through 2 rinses. You may wash your colored clothing in the same water after your whites. You'll need a clothesline or drying rack to hang for drying
     
  4. DW

    DW plains of Colorado Supporter

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    I think soaking is the trick. I've known some who used 5 gal buckets and just kept the washing going in more than one. When I was really poor a "few" years back I remember washing jeans in the bathtub. Two of us would ring them out!
     
  5. outofmire

    outofmire Well-Known Member

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    We were handwashing our clothes a few summers ago, and I always used cold water. The detergents we have nowadays get clothes clean even with cold water.

    We used three 15 gallon containers that I got at the dollar store for $5 each. I would fill each one 2/3 full or maybe even more. The thing is that the agitating will slosh a lot of the water out. I used the cone agitater from Lehmans. It worked well, but rust fast. I was already noticing rust after about 4 weeks and I was always careful to shake all the water out of it (or so I thought) and set it up off the ground in the sun to dry.

    Anyway, the order goes....wash, rinse, rinse, dry. That's what the 3 buckets were for....one to wash, one to rinse, and another to rinse again. You can reuse rinse water, but I rarely did. I think the rinsing is just as important as the washing. If you leave dingy water in the clothes, it seems to me that they'll dry dingy. I washed outside and used water from the water hose to refill basins. I didn't worry about dumping the tubs out before refilling them....I just stuck the hose in the tub and turned it on when I wanted fresh water. I had an on/off switch on the hose end to make it easier.

    I love my wringer. Not sure I'd wash clothes by hand without it, but I'm not as tough as some of you women.
     
  6. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    All detergents dissolve better in hot water, even cold temp detergents.

    I have always used less detergent than the bottle recommends. Now, I use a lot less when I use store bought (I make my own soap). Some people use Borax only and no soap. The Borax will help to soften the water so you can use less detergent and the clothes will come out softer. Hot water will rinse detergent out better, but cold water in the final rinse is fine..

    I would also encourage soaking. Why make extra work for yourself? Most things do not require real scrubbing, just some swishing. for those that require real scrubbing, get a board.

    As for your aunt's poorly performing washing machine: it may do a better job if it's only run half full.

    That reminds me, I've got some towels that need to be hung up. :yeeha:
     
  7. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I only use home made soap and it works better with hot water. And for some reason, washing with hot makes may hands softer. They were pretty red when I was having to use only cold water. Store detergent tears my hands up really bad. IMHO the soap washes cleaner than detergent. Wish I had a wringer, but maybe someday I can afford one. I don't wring the jeans, just let em drip. I agree about the rinsing. Seems if I use more water the clothes are lots cleaner.
     
  8. tngirl

    tngirl Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all! You guys know everything! You're all great!
     
  9. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

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    Hi Tngirl!

    Well, I just had to throw in my .02 worth! In 1982, when my first child was born, I not only used CLOTH diapers, I washed them all by hand! (A rare thought in the Pampers/Huggies world!)

    I kept a little water, pinesol, and bleach in the diaper 'pale' but always rinsed in the toilet first. (eeww.. I know.) ANYWAY I'm only saying this because 'prewashing' might be described this way?

    I washed them in the bathtub with enough water to cover and make em float, (some Dreft) and swished and swished.. then rinsed. Wal Lah.. always clean and white and fresh.. and know what else???/ NEVER A DIAPER RASH! Ever.. (had two kids after that!)

    P.S. I would advise being careful w/that combination of PineSol and Bleach.. use sparingly... I always wondered why the color was so weird.. and was fearful of some sort of 'explosion' or something!! :haha: Any Chemists out there?
     
  10. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    I have no idea how much a wringer costs, but an alternative is
    one of those things that you see on a janitor's bucket which is
    used to squeeze the water out of the mop before using it...it can
    also be used to squeeze water out of clothes after washing and rinsing...
    and may be easier and cheaper.
    Ann
     
  11. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    When I was little and every so often money was to tight to pay the electric bill, my mother taught us how to wash clothes in the tub, it was suprizingly easy, a layer of clothes about 1/4 to 1/3rd, less is better, run water to cover the clothes, 1st rinse if they are very dirty don't bother with soap just stomp on the clothes with your bare feet, (as children we loved it) when the water looks dirty drain it out and smoosh the clothes in the high end and stomp on them until most of the water is out, rinse any dirt out of the bottom of the tub and repete, with just enough soap to have a slippery feel between your fingers, (so you can't snap your fingers)
    then repete this until the water dosen't look dirty anymore, then rinse until the soap is gone. We would get to play in the tub like this with a radio to dance too, and it didn't seem like work, (your legs don't get tired as fast as your arms)

    My grandmother taugh me how to do lots of lanudry in a wringer washer, I really enjoyed the time I spent with her.

    To do lots with wash tubs and rub boards can be a chore so it was saved for the hardest to clean items, 3 tubs will do but 5 is lots better to run the clothes through, prewash (1 very dirty none or little soap), one wash with soap, (children can stomp these) and 3 for rinse, and as each becomes dirty it is emptyed and moved to the end of the line to become the cleanest rinse tub, a wringer at each tub would be so cool, but one must often do, I have done it without a wringer by pulling each item out of the water and putting it into a basket to drain, these set in the basket while I work the next batch or change water or whatever, eventually they all get to the end and hung on the line.
    It is always more fun to have company to help and to not be rushed about it, and of course this way must be done outdoors in summer. In the shade with icedtea.....
     
  12. chewie

    chewie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    i know this is an old thread, but i was looking for just this advice--our washing machine needs a new part that is $60 plus, and for a coupla weeks, it ain't gonna happen! sooo, its sooo very nice out, sunny with a good wind, so hand washing it is. i just used 5 gal buckets, but i can see using those rubbermaid totes i have would be better.

    i am thankful so many posted here--and i am wondering, with the economy, maybe more ppl are going to be doing it this way?!
     
  13. tamsam

    tamsam Well-Known Member

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    When I was living and traveling in the motor home I did all my washing in a 5 gal bucket. Fill with clothes and use enough water to cover them and put lid on bucket. If going in the MH leave bucket in bath tub. 4 or 500 miles later rinse and hang either on awing ot anywhere yo can. If not moving in MH put bucket in trunk of car or a couple days or trip to town. You't be surprised how clean the clothes will get.
    Another suggestion is see how much water you washing machine uses for a load. Ours uses 32.5 gallons. It may be better water wise to use it. Sam
     
  14. lmrose

    lmrose Well-Known Member

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    I washed clothes by hand for many years including diapers four four babies. There were times I owned a wash tub and others times I washed clothes in the bath tub. Sometimes all I had was five gallon pails.

    All under wear , diapers and face cloths were washed in hot water. Everything else I washed in cold water mainly because I had to heat all the water on a wood stove. I have used home made soap, liquid soap and powdered soap. The last I was allergic to so stopped using it. I prefer homemade soap for hand washing.

    I soaked all the clothes before plunging them with a bathroom plunger. Scrubbed where it was needed and rinsed usually twice unless the really dirty clothes worn outside needed more. I found using homemade lye soap required less rinsing. I had a hand wringer but it was useless for pants with zippers or anything that wasn't flat.

    Instead I enlisted my husband to wring big things that I couldn't wring tight enough. Also the kids were washing their own clothes by the time they were twelve which spread the work around. After my husband wrung clothes several times on wash day he surprised me with a wringer washer!
     
  15. jmtinmi

    jmtinmi Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Cool thread, I really like this approach to clothes washing.

     
  16. RiverPines

    RiverPines Well-Known Member

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    I did the wash by hand in the tub when I had too for a few years a long time ago. It was ok but very inefficient in time and water.

    I just got done with a winter of having nothing but a wringer washer.

    With the amount of time, and water usage for a family of four, I finally got a HE front loader. I wont ever do manual washing again!
    I save in electric, save tons of water, and I have more time to take care of the zillion other things I need and want to do.

    I dont ever want to be strapped like that to laundry again.

    Not to mention I like clean coats, blankets, and curtains. Doing those by hand is a nightmare!!! I went all winter without washing those items. When I got my front loader, they were the first things to get washed.
     
  17. motdaugrnds

    motdaugrnds II Corinthians 5:7 Supporter

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    I helped my grandmother do this often. She had 4 large round stainless steel tubs set up high on a platform built just for washing. Between 2 of the tubs she had a "ringer" (Sure wish I knew where to get one of those now!)

    The washing process was with warm water, soap & "bluing" (Wish I knew where to get this now too!) in the first tub using a wooden stick (1 1/2" diameter x 2 1/2' long) to agitate the clothing; then hand wringing to toss into the 2nd tub. In the 2nd tub she used the same stick for the same reason; then tossed clothing into 3rd tub for another rinse in same manner. From that tub the clothing went thru the ringer into the 4th tub. These were the ones we would hang on the outdoor lines for drying in the fresh air and sunshine. (The clothes were always white, clean and smelled good.)
     
  18. ldc

    ldc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Here in BR we have very soft water, so I have washed clothes in the bathtub, but soak them first overnight with a Tbs. of Murphy's Oil Soap or a detergent I found in the recycling. Sometimes I rinsed with a few Tbs. of vinegar. I used a plunger (not used for the toilet) the next a.m., and hung clothes on the line to dry. I'd drip getting them out of the house, but all in all, it was surprisingly easy! ldc
     
  19. stef

    stef Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm sure I'm the odd man out here, but why in the world do you want to age yourself? My mother had to do our laundry by hand. There were 7 children in our family and it was grueling work. Now, I can understand wanting to know how to do this in case of an emergency, but come winter, hanging it up in the cold? Waiting forever for it to dry. Wet, cold, damp clothes scatered around.
    Why trap yourself in such a time consuming, labor intensive activity that could be much better spent with your children or husband?

    When my Mom finally got a WRINGER washer she felt she had jumped light years into civilization.

    Not a criticism of you, but I know the backbreaking work involved and the 'romance' will get old quickly.

    stef