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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, Ok, I know that the water conservation question has been raised, and I know that handwashing has probably been talked to death....but bear with me while I ask about water conservation ideas for handwashing.

We know about the Staber front-loading washing machine, but that is way out of our price range for now. That leaves me with handwashing. Thing is right now we don't have a well or stream either. So we'll more than likely be catching the rainwater off our metal roof into oil drums. We'll still tote in our drinking water and dishwashing water.

I figure that unless we want a oil drum baracade around our house, we'd better figure out some ways to conserve water with handwashing. I know about reusing wash and rinse water, but I'm wondering about the james washer and pressure washer.

Do any of you know how much water each of these require and how much clothing you can get clean per load? I know the pressure washer is advertised to use a few quarts per load and a load is 1 pair of jeans or 5 shirts. I figured based on that....assuming I rinse in the james washer as well....we would need to do around 30 loads per week and 70 gallons per week. That sounds like a lot of loads to me (6 times more than our 5 loads in a standard washer), but I like the water conservation. I'd sure like to hear from any of you who use the pressure washer to see how much water it takes, etc.

As for the james washer, I know it has 15 gallon capacity, but how much water and how much clothes per load? And how does one load in the james washer compare with one standard washing machine load?

I did a little experiment yesterday using 3 quarts of water, one pair of dirty jeans and a couple of tablespoons of detergent (just like the pressure washer uses) all dumped in a 5 gallon bucket with the lid screwed tight. The I mimicked the agitation of the pressure washer but tumping the buck end to end. What I found was that even with cold water, it got the jeans clean in 2 minutes, but it took 3 rinsings to get most (but not all) of the soap out. I used 3 quarts per rinse. I think it will still get clean with half the detergent.

Then I did another experiment (ya'll are thinking I have too much time on my hands, or else I'm just crazy -- the answer it probably the latter) Anyway, with the second "experiment", I wanted to agitate the clothes like normal. I got out my Lehman's plunger and using a dirty pair of jeans and the same 5 gallon bucket, it took at least 2x the amount of water just to have "room" to agitate.

Based on all that, I figure it'll take twice as much water to use the james washer (since it's agitator style) than the pressure washer.

But like I said, I'd sure like to hear from someone who has some experience with them and knows how much water they require.


Thanks for your responses
 
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Well, I don't remember if you are doing a composting toilet or not, but if not, once upon a time Real Goods stocked a toilet tank cover/attachment that routed the new incoming fill water to a small faucet/reservoir. You washed your hands and the soapy water went right into the tank.

I have no idea if they are still available.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I just realized that my subject line was misleading....I was wanting to know about conserving water while handwashing laundry
 
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Well, as to that, just remember that improper rinsing can cause skin rashes, and obviously, the more sensitive an individual (especially babies) is to detergents to start with, the more important it is to rinse completely.

One option for you is to just go to the laundromat, preferably in an area where there are other stores and other places where you can run errands. Wear clothes two or three times (maybe hang up a numbered peg shelf to keep them aired out, depending, and then do several loads at once when you do go. Yes, it costs money, but you can get several loads done in the same time it takes to get one done. Pay to dry or haul them home wet and hang out.
 

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I am not familiar with the washers you write about. I have a Frigidaire front loader. It cost about $100 more than a comparable top loader, and about $600 less than the Maytag Neptune. It is incredible how little water it uses. It also spins out so well that my towels can be line dried quickly. If clothes are really dirty, like garden work blue jeans, I don't think it cleans as well as a good top loader, but in that case you just need to do a presoak. Because you use so little water, less energy than a top loader, and the clothes take much less time to dry, (a consideration whether you line dry or machine dry) it really has paid for itself in saved electricity.

I can't see why you couldn't reuse your laundry water. Wash the least dirty first, followed by dirty. If you rinse twice, you can use the same first rinse water also (maybe even the second rinse water)

Most people use too much detergent. Two tablespoons in three quarts of water I agree is excessive. One teaspoon pre dissolved in hot water, with another teaspoon of Borax would probably suffice, and it would rinse so much easier.

I have washed clothes in the bathtub. For agitation, I used my feet. I guess it was a little like pressing grapes. You just want to dissolve the detergent before putting the clothes in. I never thought about using a bucket and pouring the wash water into the toilet. They are right next to each other, so It would be easy!

And for towels, I don't use detergent at all, I just put in a little Borax. They are soft, even though I line dry them. Oh, and one myth is that you can't stop the washer (like to add another sock or something). Yes you can. And you can put in just as much clothing as you can in a top loader.
 

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I've never used a james washer, think they are a little pricey for what you get.

A friend had one of the little pressure washers and said it was too flimsey and didn't hold much. It broke pretty soon after she got it.

If I were spending money I would buy a hand crank wringer. If you can squeeze more of the dirty water out between washing and rinsing your clothes come a lot cleaner with less water.

Then wash the clothes in your 5 gal buckets. I think homemade soap really gets them cleaner. Easier on your hands too. If you will let them soak at least an hour (longer if really dirty) they will come clean with less effort. Rainwater gets them cleaner than well water too. Put some vinegar in the rinse water, the clothes will be cleaner.

You might want to invest in some gutters and a cistern. It'll pay you back pretty quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Cyngbaeld said:
A friend had one of the little pressure washers and said it was too flimsey and didn't hold much. It broke pretty soon after she got it.
QUOTE]

Do you remember what broke. I visited the official wonderwash website and they said that there are a lot of imitators whose washers break easily...the lid cracks or handle breaks. They stated that they've actually tested the imitators and they know why they break....blah blah blah. I'm not sure I believe it because looking at the pictures, I can tell right off that the handle would probably break first.

I have a wringer...so that's covered. But if I can't figure out how to use less than 225 gallons per week on laundry then my house will be surrounded with oil drums.

As to a cistern, I'm still working on locating a good one locally. Until then, I thought I'd just use oil drums since they are 16cents a gallon. Still thinking on that though.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Oh and btw, they also said that they sell replacement lids and handles if your friend is interested.
 

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If rinsing is the problem, maybe you should investigate detergent options to see if there's something that rinses easier (I have no idea if there is such a thing).

If you get enough rain, can you "line rinse" clothes? Use something biodegradable and let the rain do the work? Would a regular pressure washer rinse better if you stuck you stuff up on a wall and blasted it?

You said you don't have a creek, but can you make one? Dig a ditch with a slope, fill with gravel and sand, have a collection basin on the bottom with a small pump to take it back to the top. I know gravel and sand are excellent filters, but I don't know if they can filter out detergent...maybe something else can instead. The water would be recycled through the thing and maybe that would be a savings (or maybe not).

Gee...I've got a lot of dumb ideas that I know nothing about, but that is just what came to mind.

Jena
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Oddly enough, I have thought about line rinsing, but we can go weeks without much rain. I think I'll try it during the rainy season. However, that's when my barrels will be full, isn't it. Oh well.

As to the ground collection, I don't know. We have bedrock 1 ft down, and it's got fissues that water leaks through like a sieve. Guess I could line the ground first....hafta think on that.

I appreciate your creativity though. Those are the kind of ideas I'm constantly banging around in my own head.
 

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My friend just tossed the washer out. It was given to her by someone who was disappointed in it. She didn't have the money to buy parts.

Can you get hold of an old tire from a really big piece of equipment? Some peoplewill pay you to take them away. You lay it on its side and line with some heavy plastic and let the water run into it. Makes a pretty decent cistern.

Also look for children's swimming pools at garage sales. Some of them hold an impressive amount of water.

You can reuse the water somewhat, like has been said. Wash cleanest white things first. Do 2 rinses. When the wash water is too dirty dump it and first rinse water becomes wash water. 2nd rinse becomes 1st and the 2nd rinse gets fresh water.

And when it rains send everyone outside in dirty clothes with a bar of soap to stand under the eaves for a shower and clothes washing.

I really think the money you would have to spend to buy a machine would be better spent to improve your rain harvesting.

BTW, I washed all our clothes last winter in water I obtained by melting snow that I scooped out of the yard and hauled in.
 

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I just thought of something, sounds crazy, but... Do you get lots of dew? In some places people have put up 'air wells' to collect dew. Whole villages are getting water that way in south america.
 
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I agree with Maura!

1. You used too much detergent. It's a myth that you need a lot of detergent to clean clothes (although some feel with very hard water it's better to use more).

2. I have the Frigidair front loader (costs around 500-600 $) and it does a GREAT job imo with little water. I use either 1 tsp. of liquid dish soap(joy) or 1/8 cup laundry detergent, oxyclean if I feel the need and some vinegar in the rinse. for heavily soiled or for diapers I put in the detergent in and do a cold prewash cycle to get out the worst then add oxyclean and vinegar to a reg. warm wash cycle.

3. If it's just you and your spouse, I don't see why you can't "rig" a hand crank tumbler type bit ( kinda like the tumbler composter but sealed). If you find a large enough barrel, make a spit like system with a handle to spin, only 3 loads a week ;) max It is more laborous than an automatic but costs less in the long run I'm sure.
 

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I used a James Washer for over a year when I lived in the mountains of N.C. It has its good and bad points. The good is that it washed light things really well, as well as towels and sheets. It would only do about 3 pair of jeans at a time amd they were hard to put through the attached wringer. It also took a lot of water but I had plenty of that. It was well built out of stainless steel. I finally gave in to an automatic washer after we built our house. They are pretty expensive now but I bought mine for just over a hundred bucks with a wringer. In my humble opinion if I did not have water I would do the laundrymat thing, wash there and dry at home. Hope this helps.

Ed
 

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Greetings from Montana: Here are a couple of options,,,personally we go to town, 30 miles , once a week and do wash, grocery shoping, doctor, dentist etc all in one day. Esp. now that gas is so pricy. How about an old ringer washer. I see them all the time in the ads on ebay and locally in the dandy dime, mini nickle type papers. I used one years ago that had a gasoline engine and I know some of them are electric and could run off a small generator. They are agitator types but you dont have to use much water and can re use the rinse water etc. Also I dont know about many places but Amway (dare i say the word) puts out a really good very low suds biodegradable (sp) laundry soap. So I am sure other places do to. We also have no well or spring as of yet and must haul water. We do catch rain water off the metal roof and even drink it after we put it though a particle filter. Hope you find a way to get the job done!
 

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Ok, like others said cut back on the soap. My idea would be to simply use a couple of barrells with the lids. You use one for the wash and then one or maybe two for the rinse. You could put your clothes in the wash barrell and simply roll it around, put them through a ringer then into the rinse barrell, roll around and through the ringer again. You could have the soapy one filled and soaking while doing the rinse one. If you have kids or grand kids, they would enjoy rolling the barrells for you.
If you didn't want to roll the barrells, rig up a gizmo that looks like this \/ out of plywood maybe, screw in a couple of those old wheels off of office chairs(castors) and lay the barrell sideways down the \/ and it will just roll on the castors. I've seen compost tumblers that work the same way.

Carol K
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for all the responses!

I washed a couple of loads the other day with my 5 gallon plastic buckets and wringer. I only used 2 tsp per load and it was plenty.....so I agree that 2TB per 3quarts is waaay too much.

Anyway, based on the responses I also realized that I won't need the pressure washer or the james washer, but I will need square wash tubs if I plan to reuse rinse water because most of the water from wringing didn't make into the bucket because of the buckets curved edges.

Right now I'm working on ways of finding water. I think I maybe able to wash all our clothes for the week with 75-100 g. even using hand washing. That's great news to me. When I washed clothes in the past, we had running water....so I used ALOT more than that.
 
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