Author Topic: Laundry the old-fashioned way  (Read 13124 times)

Peanut Butter

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Laundry the old-fashioned way
« on: August 05, 2013, 08:40:58 AM »
The apartment I'm in now is the first one I've had without a washer/dryer in the unit. I was a little worried about it, but the complex has a coin laundry center right across the parking lot.

When I first moved in, it was $2.00 for washing and $2.00 for drying (and the machines only accept quarters, so I had to continually go to the bank to get quarters, I couldn't just use my spare change.) It only took about 1.5 weeks for me to say "FUCK THIS" and get myself a washboard.

I already had the big tub (I'm a knitter and I used it to wash and block large wool sweaters and afghans.) The washboard (made in the USA was something like $20, and the washing plunger $15. Drying rack another $20.







HOLY HELL. I had no idea my underwear could get as white as the washboard + Fels-Naptha + Borax makes it. Also, I didn't realize how much money I was spending on electricity to power my washer and dryer in my previous apartments. At my previous apartment with cheaper electricity, my bill was never less than $40 no matter how much I worked at getting it lower. My last bill here was $30, and that was with no special effort to be frugal with the kWh. Alsoalso, the laundry center KICKS ASS for washing things in the middle of the night (I work graveyards, and in my other apartments I always had to stay up way late into the morning to do laundry so as not to disturb my neighbors.) and also for washing sheets and things, because I can use multiple machines and wash EVERYTHING at once. So doing my linens was once a 4+ hour chore, now it takes 1.5 hours, because the machines are so fast.

Earlier this year, the management lowered the price to $1.50 ea for washing and drying, so I've been using it a little bit more, but I still almost never use the dryers (except for linens) because I bought a box fan that dries my clothes on the rack in under 8 hours. Less for my cycling/tech duds, and I always hand-washed those anyways. (If I'm spending $60+ for a nice pair of cycling knickers, you betcha I'm going to do what I can to keep them nice for a looooong time.)



I also keep figuring out ways to generate less and less laundry, as the hospital I work for prefers that we use their scrubs - so I pretty much wear the same pants/shirt to ride my bike into work all week, and just use their scrubs. Bras get washed in the sink while I'm taking my shower (and the lycra dries really fast). So all I have to do is wash one shirt, one pair of pants, and the weeks worth of socks and underwear.

shadowmoss

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2013, 08:49:45 AM »
I lived in Honduras for 2 years, and had small electric washer and spinner (2 separate machines) that were just fancy hand laundry methods.  The spinner got the majority of the water out of my clothes so they dried very quickly.  The drawback was that the force made the clothes wrinkled enough I had to iron them, and I hadn't ironed clothes in the decades prior to this so it isn't like I terribly fussy.  Now I have a laundry room in the mobile home park where I live and I use it for the majority of things, but still wash my bras and nicer tops by hand and hang them.  As a drying rack, and second shower rod, the kind you unscrew to hold up via pressure, placed in the middle of the shower and high enough not to be in the way, is a good way to hang things on hangers and drip dry into the tub.

earlyFI

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2013, 10:12:44 AM »
Fun post, thanks for including the pictures! Love to hear what others are doing. I have started experimenting with this as well, although in smaller batches.

spider1204

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2013, 10:34:57 AM »
I've been doing the whole stomp on your clothes in the shower thing, as seen on "No Impact Man", and it works pretty well at getting the dirt and smell out, but it still leaves oil based stains.  Although I don't really know much about laundry in general, do oil based stains even come out in conventional washing?  With the washboard?

Peanut Butter

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2013, 10:50:49 AM »
Yes, most grease spots (and when you're as clumsy handing your food as I am, you get lots of grease spots) come out with soaking in Borax and laundry soap. For when I get grease from my bicycle on my clothes, I soak them in hot water and Dawn dishsoap. Dawn soak + scrubbing on the washboard has not failed to take out any oil or grease stains on my clothes thus far, and works much better than repeated trips through the washing machine.

frugalfather

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2013, 11:09:25 AM »
Awsome..old school is the best school!  I am a history buff and I love that we are keeping these skills alive.

dorothyc

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2013, 10:00:21 AM »
Thanks for this idea. I already hand wash quite a few of my clothes and hang them in the shower, but I have been wanting a front loader washing machine, as they use less water, but it isn't in the budget at the moment and I'm worried they are less reliable than the simple old mechanical top loader I have.

After your post I decided to buy a glass washboard from Lehmans, and also got a large Amish made drying rack and nylon clothes plunger from the same site. My dryer is gas powered, but it heats up and humidifies the house to run it in summer so the expensive AC works harder. This will be a good way to offset some electric use.

This is the link to the washboard I got:
https://www.lehmans.com/p-2641-lehmans-washboards.aspx

Peanut Butter

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2013, 11:32:58 AM »
That's awesome, Dorothy! I thought about getting a glass board, as I've heard they're not quite as rough on clothes (the first time I used the board I went too hard and rubbed a hole right through my PJs) but I just know I'd manage to break it at some point.

Carless

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2013, 08:06:55 PM »
This is an interesting idea.  I live in an apartment too, and the idea of saving a bit of coin appeals.  Would this work on bath towels?  They're kind of big to wash, and wouldn't they come out scratchy without a tumble dry?  I've found in the past that the ones off the clothesline were never as nice as the ones out of the dryer...

ny.er

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2013, 08:47:22 PM »
This is an interesting idea.  I live in an apartment too, and the idea of saving a bit of coin appeals.  Would this work on bath towels?  They're kind of big to wash, and wouldn't they come out scratchy without a tumble dry?  I've found in the past that the ones off the clothesline were never as nice as the ones out of the dryer...

Although I do a lot of hand washing, I usually use the washing machine for towels. Then I put them in the dryer for about 10 minutes to puff them up, and hang on a drying rack until dry.

Peanut Butter

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2013, 11:10:36 PM »
This is an interesting idea.  I live in an apartment too, and the idea of saving a bit of coin appeals.  Would this work on bath towels?  They're kind of big to wash, and wouldn't they come out scratchy without a tumble dry?  I've found in the past that the ones off the clothesline were never as nice as the ones out of the dryer...

It's possible, but it probably wouldn't really be worth it. I save up my towels/linens and things until I have enough for a full load in the washing machine. I use the drying rack for them, and they do get a bit stiff, but I shake them out and they're ok.

James81

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2013, 11:17:49 PM »
Great thread. I don't have a washer and dryer in my place either. I spend about $3 per load to wash clothes (and I usually only have a load a week to two weeks). So, it's not THAT expensive to use the laudromat, but I hate sucking up an hour and a half of my time washing clothes there.

It never even occurred to me to get a washboard and a drying rack and just use a fan to dry the clothes. lol I'm definitely going to look into a set up like this.

vern

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2013, 12:15:16 AM »
Hey, good on you!!!

When I travel, I hand wash clothes in the sink daily.  (I even had the maids in Singapore asking me repeatedly if I had any laundry yet.  Har!)

I also hand wash my workout shirts after running or biking and they dry in about 4 or 5 hours.

But you've got me thinking though about going all the way!

kdms

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2013, 03:29:40 AM »
I ordered a glass board from Home Hardware after reading your post - I'd been toying with the idea for a while, as our daycare provider appears to have a dirt phobia and the minute my son falls down in the grass she changes him - and after spending all day twisted into little balls in plastic bags, the clothes actually are dirty.  As a result, he runs out of clean clothes within a few days if I don't do laundry every second day.  Figured a laundry board would solve the problem - wash the few pieces that came home every day in the sink, hang them, and tada, no excessive washer usage.

The board works beautifully, and I actually got through a full load (it'd been collecting for a while) in around the same time it would have taken the washing machine - I figure I'll get faster with time, once I stop trying to rub holes in the clothes ;).  But how do you get enough water out of the clothes for them to dry in a reasonable amount of time?  I did my load on Wednesday night and Friday morning stuff was still quite damp - I gave up and threw them into the dryer at that point.  I'm considering compromising and the next time I use the board I'll do the wash and rinse and then throw them into the washer for a spin cycle (front loader and clothes are practically dry when it's done) and then hang them after the spin cycle.  I'm having a hard time reconciling 3+ days of drying time with a hand-wring job, especially when the whole point is to have clean clothes the next day to send off to daycare.

There are manual roller wringers available, but for $129, I can do an awful lot of 10-min spin cycles.  Anybody got any tips for this?

jenstill

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2013, 06:01:31 AM »
Forgive me for my ignorance: I understand you wash the clothes with the soap and washing board and then hand-wring them and hang to dry. But, the middle step I'm not getting is how do you rinse all of the soap out of the clothes before ringing them? Of course I could just rinse them in the sink for a time but that's falling down for me in the time savings area. If I'm individually rinsing each piece of clothing in the sink until the soap is gone, that will take hours and waste a whole lot of water, won't it? And if I don't rinse them individually and instead just put all the clothes in the sink to rinse at once, the soap won't all get out, right?

I know I must be missing something obvious as this is clearly successful for all of you ... but I can't figure out what it is and I'd like to try this method to save some money.

kdms

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2013, 07:05:19 AM »
I can see four questions in your post - correct me if I missed anything?

1. How to get the soap out
2. Does this save time
3. Does this waste water
3. Does this save money

1. If you do a google search on how your laundry machine works, you'll discover (like I did because I had the same question) that the machine does it exactly the same way that you'd do it by hand - fill the tub with soapy water, agitate the daylights out of the clothes to force the soapy water through the clothes and lift the dirt off, and then drain the soapy water away.  That's the first portion of the wash cycle. Then the machine fills up with clean water, swishes the soapy clothes around in the rinse water (this is when your clothes softener would be added if you use one) and then drains out, leaving rinsed clothing.  That's the rinse cycle.  Then the machine spins the snot out of the clothes, using centrifugal force to get as much water as possible before (in theory) they go in the dryer.

From this, you can see that it's identical to what you'd do by hand, except that with the machine it's a set amount of time which generally isn't altered.  It doesn't rinse them individually, so in theory, they're all being rinsed at the same time, with the same water, so your final point about not getting all the soap out is valid for both hand and machine washing.  Conclusion: washing machines are literally only a labour-saving device. 

I do rinse my clothes individually under the tap, because I absolutely hate residual soap, and I'm only doing a few pieces of kids clothing at a time, but it really doesn't take that long and I don't think it uses any more water than a double rinse cycle on the machine does.  How much time does it take to rinse out a facecloth when you're in the shower? 20 sec, tops?  And there's a lot more soap on the facecloth than there is in your clothes.  Bear in mind that there's actually very little soap used in each bucket, and you can decrease the amount of soap in your washed clothes by wringing the soapy clothes back into the wash bucket before putting your clothes into the rinse water, and thereby keeping the dirty soapy water out of your clean rinse water, if you don't want to do pieces individually.

2.  It'll save time only if you need a specific piece and don't want to wait for a full laundry cycle to get it.  Hand-washing clothing is generally not a time saving choice for most people.  I happen to do it only because I currently have the few minutes it takes while dinner is in the oven.  That may change in the future.

3.  I think it uses less water, but that's because I'm only doing very small loads.  If you're on a water meter (we're on a well so it doesn't matter to us, cost-wise) it would definitely be an interesting comparison.

4.  It saves money because you're not using the electricity to run the machine.  That's the only hard savings - you're still using hot water (maybe) and soap.

Hope this helps a bit....

kdms

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2013, 09:10:46 AM »
I was waiting to see if anyone else had any thoughts - personally the only time I've ever noticed a smell is when I hang up a towel in the bathroom and don't have the vent fan going.  If there's no air circulation, it's going to get musty - especially in a typically damp and humid (and likely small) room.  I can only imagine how your roommates clothing must have smelled...ugh.

We don't hang our laundry in the kitchen...not enough space.  And maybe it's just our style of cooking, but even when we do cook highly aromatic dishes the smell doesn't get to the other parts of the house.  The laundry either goes outside on the line (preferably) or it goes onto racks in front of the wood stove in the living room.  I suppose we could also put it on racks in the bedroom, which is even more removed from the kitchen, but that hasn't happened yet.  So the issue of strong cooking smells has never really come up....although I have noticed that the laundry room itself (also no space to hang anything in there) has a different...aura....due to the cats litter box being in there.  I suspect the clothing might take on a different scent if we hung it in there to dry without having a vent going.


Peanut Butter

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2013, 11:07:46 AM »
If you're worried about the smell, add baking soda and borax to the wash water. I found that my clothes, especially the tech-fabric/micro fiber clothes smelled LESS after I started washing them by hand. I would guess your friend either didn't wash them well enough, or he didn't wait for the clothes to fully dry before putting them back in the drawer/closet, and they got mildewy.

EmEmEm

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2013, 10:32:13 PM »
Re the scratchy towels if you don't use a dryer problem... use a little fabric softener (downy or similar) in your rinse water. Not quite "dryer fluffy", but better than without and a little goes a long way.

Peanut Butter

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2013, 02:28:22 AM »
Re the scratchy towels if you don't use a dryer problem... use a little fabric softener (downy or similar) in your rinse water. Not quite "dryer fluffy", but better than without and a little goes a long way.

For really mustachian laundry, you can use white vinegar in the rinse water. Won't smell quite as flowery, but you can get it in bulk at Costco.

racherinh

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2013, 09:52:07 AM »
Where did you get that drying rack!!! We had one like that in Europe, but we can't find them anywhere the US, they are all much smaller and flimsy. There are five of us, so we really need the 18m size. We've been considering buying one from German Amazon, but the shipping costs as much as the rack (about 60 euro, all together), and since we don't pay for electricity in our current rental it's kind of a hard sell.

Peanut Butter

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Re: Laundry the old-fashioned way
« Reply #21 on: August 25, 2013, 12:24:29 PM »
Where did you get that drying rack!!! We had one like that in Europe, but we can't find them anywhere the US, they are all much smaller and flimsy. There are five of us, so we really need the 18m size. We've been considering buying one from German Amazon, but the shipping costs as much as the rack (about 60 euro, all together), and since we don't pay for electricity in our current rental it's kind of a hard sell.

I got it off of Amazon, shipping is free if you're a Prime member!
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005HH19D8/ref=oh_details_o08_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1