Washing Clothes By Hand
(otherwise known as "the old fashion way")
By: Mercy Hoyt
Washing clothes by hand is not for lazy people... I will be honest and upfront... IT'S HARD WORK. So why do it? Here are the reason I chose to do it but I am sure there a ton more.
It is cheaper... the soap cost less... you can do larger loads and no electricity or gas needed!
Your clothing comes out much cleaner.
Because it comes out cleaner you don't need to use a ton of heavily perfumed soaps, softeners and other laundry products that can irritate asthma or allergies (which two of my children has).
It's can be environmentally better provided you use biodegradable soaps and/or use the grey water for your garden, lawn or cleaning sidewalks areas.
It's exercise! Why pay for a gym when you can do laundry. Especially because it can be done outside in the sunshine and fresh air... no more being cooped up in the house.
With that said, let's do the laundry! I use a home-made laundry soap made up of:
1 c. Shredded Zote or other laundry bar soap... loose not packed
1 c. Washing or Baking Soda
1 c. 20 Mule Team Borax
Note: For my husband's "oil field work clothing" I have found that "all: small and mighty stain lifter formula" works GREAT hands down... and yes I have tried many in order to get it down to a science.
Things you'll need are...
A washboard... I prefer the metal ones for most washing and glass for delicates. Can be bought at ACE Hardware for $20 or call The Columbus Washboard Company at 1-800-343-7967.
Rapid washer: this is an item the resembles a metal plunger, it has a wood handle with a metal cone shaped end. Can be bought at www.lehmans.com for around $15.00
Bar of laundry soap: Zote, Fels-Naptha or plain "lye soap" (Try Big Lots or dollar stores first).
Baking soda or "washing" soda
Water in a tub, sink, clean trash can or other large container
Wringer: not necessary but VERY useful.
5 gal. bucket or laundry basket
Step 1: Sort the laundry and place the first load into the bath tub.
Step 2: Fill the bath tub ½ way with warm water. Resist the temptation to use only hot water as you will be putting your hands into it.
Step 3: Place laundry soap in tub with clothes, stir until everything is wet and soap is dissolved. Let soak for 15 minutes.
Step 4: Using your "rapid washer" plunge the clothing for 10-20 times. The rapid washer works by forcing the soapy water through your clothes thus dislodging the dirt and allowing it to cling to the soap in the water. This will be enough for light to moderately dirty clothes and other items like sheets and blankets.
Step 5: For stains, sweat marks, and other yucky things you will now need to place your washboard into the tub and grab your bar of laundry soap. This is another good reason for washing socks, underwear and undershirts together. If necessary wash only socks together... you will have to use your judgment as each family is different.
Step 6: Holding the clothing with one or two loosely-closed fists, so as to not rub your knuckles across the board (which is painful). The goal is to rub the clothing not your knuckles. You should see lots of brown suds... this is good as you want the dirt to cling to the suds not your clothing. The water will be dirty (this is a good thing) and I can assure you that your water will be dirtier then any washing machine can get out of the same load. Hence is why most laundry soap is heavily perfumed.
Step 7: Wring the item and place into your bucket or laundry basket.
Step 8: Rinse in full tub of water. If water is not clear drain and refill to ensure clothes are rinsed as much as possible.
Step 9: Add 2 c. white vinegar and let soak for 15 minutes. This will help your clothing to line dry faster and with fewer wrinkles... don't worry your clothing smelling like a dinner salad.
Step 10: Wring the clothes, then shake out one item at a time and place on your clothes line to dry.
You may have to wash a very dirty item twice. Pour some water on the board and re-soap the item and rub again.
Rub straight up and down, not at an angle.
The more brown suds the better... it is better that the dirt be in the water & soap bubbles and not your clothing. If it gets too dirty you can drain and refill you tub or try doing smaller loads.
I usually have to wash my husband's and boy's socks twice and by them selves.
You can soak your clothing in water and Borax prior to washing for 30 minutes if they are stained.
This is a chore that is best done in parts while alternating with an easier less labor intensive one.
If you experience dry skin afterward I suggest use Utterly Smooth Foot Cream.
Wash cloth diapers in a separate load by themselves.
For indoor drying I suggest using a closet rod mounted with plastic or metal brackets... then it can be taken done when not in use and your clothes are already on hangers.