Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Prepare: Washing Clothes

The day after Thanksgiving, I threw a load of bedding in the washing machine with some detergent, turned it on and left the room. Twenty minutes later, I did not hear the washer, so I went back in the laundry room and found two inches of water on the floor.

The repairs would have cost as much as a new machine, so I went out to purchase one. Bad timing, it was Black Friday and nearly all inventory was gone. Now, the prices were really low, and I really needed a machine, so I bought one and learned I would have to wait until the middle of December, at the earliest, for delivery.

So, what do you do for clean clothes when the washer is out which led me to thinking about how to wash clothes if there is no power or one is living in austere conditions.
First, in the real world, we borrowed the neighbor's washer for one day and got most of our stuff cleaned.

I could go to a laundromat too, like I did the last time the washer went out. But those public machines have a tendancy to ruin clothes and patrons throw all kinds of things in there, like crayons, markers, etc. Plus, sitting around those places for two to three hours is not a fun way to spend a morning.

Now, the prepper world. Here's what I did. I took a couple of small bins and used them to wash socks, underwear and T-Shirts for the kids. Detergent, water, soak, wring, soak, wring, rinse, dry. Time consuming and hard on the hands and arms.

Big stuff? I used the bath tub. Again, lots of soaking, wringing, etc. For sheets and jeans, I had my son take one end and I on the other and we twisted those things until most of the water was out and then tossed them in the dryer. If there was no power, I could have put them outside (during the day only - at night would have left me with a pair of Jeans-cicles), because we have had sunny weather lately.

Now, if this was full time work, I would like to have one of those James washers, but right now, the one I saw online was more expensive than a powered washer, so I won't be getting that back-up device anytime soon. Maybe I can make something like it? The wringer would be cool to have if I could mount it on a drum or something.

Which brings to mind, get a clothes line. Power or not, nothing beats fresh air drying of clothes outside. We also use a drying rack on nice days.

In the end, not having a washing machine for clothes at home is no fun. Having to do it by hand is not fun either, but it makes one think about how the task will be done if the SHTF.


Frugal Life UK said...

Hi - here in the UK, plenty of us wash our clothes by hand, not all of them, but lots of them, I don't have a drier either. wrung out by hand and dried on a rack in front of the wood burner.

JD said...

Frugal - Washing those big pieces, blankets, jeans, etc by hand is tough. Knowing what I know now, I would like to have one of those old fahioned wash barrels with the wringer on the side, a wash board and a larger clothes line outside.
Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment.

Cathy said...

Here is an idea for you to keep your hands out of the water most of the time. I have a 5 gallon bucket with a hole in the lid. Put a plunger through the hole so the handle is on the outside of the lid.(a plunger like you use for a toilet or sink, new one that has never seen a toilet!)Then put your water, detergent, clothes inside the bucket, put on the lid, and start plunging. You will keep your hands out of the water most of the time, and the plunger agitates the clothing pretty well. You can have a second bucket for rinsing. Add a little bit of vinegar to the rinse bucket as it helps break up any soap residue, and acts as a softener. Then you just have to squeeze out the wet clothes and dry. Cathy

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