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

Jacqueline Greenleaf jacque at book-woman.net
Wed Mar 13 13:38:56 EDT 2013

Just a note for those who are considering it - I have a Wonder Washer, and it works well if you are mindful of its inherent limitations. The cranking mechanism is a little too fragile for my taste, but it really does get plenty of dirt out of your clothes with little effort. If you had a lot of clothes to wash, it would drive you crazy, and I wouldn't try to wash sheets in it. For a single person living in the woods, though, it was a huge help.

On Mar 10, 2013, at 11:49 AM, Douglas Hinds wrote:

> 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:
> http://products.geappliances.com/ApplProducts/html/GEAResults.htm#Category=Stackable_Washers~Portable_Washers~Traditional_Topload_Washers~High-Efficiency_Topload_Washers 
> <http://products.geappliances.com/ApplProducts/html/GEAResults.htm#Category=Stackable_Washers%7EPortable_Washers%7ETraditional_Topload_Washers%7EHigh-Efficiency_Topload_Washers>
> 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:
> http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/314418596/rotary_clothes_dryer_centrifugal_extractor_swimsuit.html
> 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).
> Douglas
> 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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