[permaculture] Alternative/traditional methods of doing laundry w/o a machine (how?)

Douglas Hinds cedecor at gmx.net
Sun Mar 10 14:49:13 EDT 2013

Yesterday 03/09/2013 08:17 PM, Lawrence London wrote about doing laundry:
> ... you suddenly realize you are going to be washing all your laundry by hand for
> the rest of your life (driving to laundromat is not an option).
> What are effective ways to hand wash laundry?
> cold water OK?

I don't wash clothes often (I have plenty) or by hand but the system I 
use may be worth repeating:
I don't buy automatic washers (those with cycles) and have purchased 2 
G.E. back-&-forth rotor type machines, one in 1982 and one 15 or 20 
years later that still works fine (except for very large items, which is 
where you need that front loader you mentioned, with the vertically 
rotating cage and no rotor).

The back-&-forth movement of the rotor creates a vertical flow of water 
and that is what cleans the clothes (sheets etc.) if you don't load the 
machine too much and have plenty of water in it, because without that 
vertical current the clothes just slosh around from right to left and 
there's not enough water flowing around them to loosen whatever has 
stuck to them.

These machines are not expensive and have few parts to break.  I haven't 
seen one with a wringer for a while and personally I don't like them 
since they stretch elastic and break buttons.  I use a centrifugal 
device that are not being made here anymore (except for Easy, which 
includes a little one with some of it's rotor washing machines), AFAIK. 
(Hoover used to make them in the USA).

To back up that statement  I went to the ge.com website and discovered 
that these simple round machines with no timer, pump or wash cycles 
(they are either on or off and drain with a hose) are no longer being 
offered in the USA:


The least expensive model in the USA is $550 and I know they can be had 
new for less than half that here in Mexico.

The Cinsa clothes centrifuge (16,00 RPM) only lasted for 28 years, at 
which time I had to rewind the motor and later, install a new on / off 
switch. (I bought it in 1982 and it still works perfectly)

The other item I use is a tub, big enough to soak a load of clothes in.

I wash the cleanest clothes first, so I can re-use the soapy water 
(using mostly ACE detergent), capturing the output of the Centrifuge, so 
the clothes from the washer go first into the centrifuge and from there 
into the tub with a minimum of soap.  IAC I change the water in the tub 
enough to get rid of the soap not extracted by the centrifuge, before 
running it through the centrifuge again.

I googled on "centrifuge for drying clothes" and while the spin-x 
company wants $600 + from Canada, the alibaba.com people have one from 
China for much less:


This $100 item (FOB USA) will save you a lot of work.  (Sometimes I even 
carry one with me when I travel in my 95 Ford Ranger).

If I remove shirts and pants (things that could be ironed) from the 
extractor before almost all of the rinse water is removed, I can shake 
the wrinkles out before hanging the clothes out to dry on clothes 
hangers hung to the clothes line up on the roof (under cover during the 
rainy season) and don't have to iron, much or at all.

If I'm traveling without the centrifuge I use a cord to tie one end of 
whatever I want to wring (unless it's a small item) to something 
immovable and turn the other end around and around until almost all the 
water is wrung out. It works but is still a hassle.

Success or failure in Life is due to the details taken into account. 
IOW, everything has it's own Zen, including doing your laundry. (If you 
have a stream running nearby you can enclose your clothes in a basket 
and throw them into the stream, where the water running through them 
will remove much of the foreign material, but don't forget to tie the 
cage to a rock or a tree, unless you intend to send your clothes to 
someone down-stream).

While in the house I wear mainly sweatshirts and pants anyway, and had 
the no-springs mattress I bought in 1982 recovered with an impermeable 
furniture covering which can be cleaned and therefore used with or 
without sheets.

I also found I can purchase new mattresses from the manufacturer for far 
less without their cover and do the same as above for less cost and 
greater service.

I worked on a trail crew in Sequoia National Park one summer and have 
lived outdoors for extended periods on other occasions, sharing space 
with wild rather than domestic animals, which make good company. (Wild 
doesn't mean out of control.  Civilization is out of control, or at 
least needs to be reoriented).

Sunday March 10 in Guadalajara

> plenty of large plastic buckets and barrels to use, wheelbarrow?
> biodegradable soap
> agitation methods?
> beat them against rocks or concrete patio?
> are there any recipes for laundry soap that might work better than
> commercial biodegradable liquid detergent,
> i.e. get more dirt out quicker and with less agitation? borax, salt, baking
> soda, Bon Ami, vinegar, other household product?
> Anyone do their laundry by hand?
> _______________________________________________

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