Saturday, March 12, 2011

Twenty-One Days - Day 9: Laundry

I was going to post a picture of our mountain of dirty clothes for this post, but ... Deus Ex Machina just quipped "the camera won't zoom out that far? ... don't have a wide-angled lense?" He's so funny! Actually, I decided it would be better not to air my dirty laundry ... as it were ;). I usually try to keep up with the laundry, but these days it takes longer to do a load of laundry, because of the dry time. My clothes rack can only hold one load at a time, but looking at the growing pile of laundry that needs to be washed, I'm thinking I might need to invest in a second rack.

The fact that I don't use my clothes dryer has been well established, but I still use my automatic washer. Being an older, less expensive, top-loader, it's not the most efficient, and with an eye on conservation, if I had the cash, I might do well to get a more energy efficient model, but in the greater scheme of things, I have to ask myself, is operating an electric washing machine one of those areas on which I want to expend my precious electricity?

That said, I've done laundry by hand before, and it's difficult and messy. I don't have a very good set-up for hand-washing my clothes. If I lived in a warmer climate, I would take the clothes outside and wash them there in washtubs and use the firepit to warm the water, but my reality is that it's the middle of March, and we still have a six foot snow bank next to our driveway. Yesterday, when we were setting the rest of our taps, I walked through snow that was so deep, I ended up with snow in my boots.

I also don't have any big sinks in my house and my bathtub isn't made for bending over to wash clothes. It's a very deep, jacuzzi style tub with a step-up to get into it.

I can change some of that, though. The closet where my laundry machines are located would be a great place for a large, utility sink. A large utility sink would be a great place to do laundry in the house. Fill it up with hot water (either from the tap or from the woodstove), add the clothes and let them soak. After a bit, use a washboard to scrub the clothes, and then, using my wringer, squeeze out the water, and then, hang them on the line.

It wouldn't reduce my mountain of laundry, but doing them by hand might actually motivate me to cull some of the endless stash of clothes my daughters have (my youngest has clothes at the bottom of her drawer that she hasn't seen in YEARS! Because she has too many to need to dig that far).

And then, that mountain would become a mole hill ... which would be much more manageable.

For those of you who are interested in low-energy washing options, I have a treat. Many moons ago, I was given a Wonderwash.



I always thought I would use it, but it's a bit small for my family and so I haven't. So, I'd like to offer it to one of you. Because of the cost of postage, this particular giveaway is open to US residents only.

Per usual, please leave your name in the comments section ;).


AND THE WINNER IS ...

The winner of the book How to Make a Forest Garden is reneebontjes. The winner of the book Gardening When It Counts is Alla. Please leave a comment with your full name and the mailing address to which you would like the books sent. Comments are moderated, and I will not publish your address. Congratulations to you both!

28 comments:

  1. I'd like to enter for the wonderwash please! Although, does anyone else have experience with one of these? I was thinking about using it for delicates or diapers, but is it any easier than just doing it in the laundry sink?
    Thanks!

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  2. Hey Wendy, sign me up for the wonderwash contest. I've seen these several times over the years but never found the money to actually purchase one. Winning one would be awesome ;)

    Thanks for keeping us informed and sharing your stuff in giveaways.

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  3. Wow! Cool giveaway item. Please put my name in the hat for that one. And thanks again for your ongoing generosity.

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  4. Using boiling water can get clothes clean, I'm told, without a lot of hand-work (good thing). But nowadays so many clothing care labels specify "wash cold."

    Agitation could be pedal-driven or even air-driven (windmill)… after a major crash, people are going to have better things to do than worry about a stained shirt or jeans.

    (Don't put me down for this one, we need a lot more capacity here too.)

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  5. Please sign me up for the Wonderwash give away.
    Pacy Reilly

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  6. When our washer broke, I remember my mother doing laundry in the bathtub with the wrong side of a broom to agitate it. With no car and laundry for eight people (and I'm sure someone was in diapers--cloth of course) how was she supposed to get to the laundromat?
    There were also rules in our house about how many times you had to wear certain articles of clothing before my mom would wash them. Ha ha! Underwear excluded!
    It would seem my cheapass upbringing has taught me some good lessons for the end of the world as we know it ;-)

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  7. Please enter me in the giveaway for the hand-cranked washing machine! Even if it's too small for me to use for my family (we also have three children), my son can use it when he goes off to college - if you remember, he's planning on building his own tiny home and living mostly (if not all the way) off the grid. I can see that being perfect for a single person...

    ...and perhaps if he has that sitting in his room as a constant reminder of his future plans, it will help to strengthen his resolve when his friends tell him it's a stupid idea to build your own home.

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  8. I could if I had to but I would not like to be without my washing machine. I do know that sometimes I am putting clothes in the washer and I'm thinking are these really dirty? I don't work outside the home so I basically wear the same 5 or 6 t-shirts and shorts all the time...really saves on washing for some reason. I do use my dryer but only for about 5 minutes a load...after they have dried out side to almost completely dried. That little hand washer is cute but I think I will pass...like you don't know if I would use it.

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  9. Wendy - just received my Britta water filter. Thank you so much. My husband claimed it almost before I got it out of the box - for making his coffee. We will share - his coffee, my sun tea.

    Drying clothes on a rack - when we lived in CT I put the rack next to or in front of the wood stove or set a fan on low and put the rack in front of it. A friend put it in front of a south facing window. My grandma hung her laundry in the attic all winter - took about 24 hours to dry but was out of the way. Lucky me - I live in SW FL and had my rack out on the lanai today drying towels - they smell so good dried in the sunshine.

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  10. I have been wanting to try one of these wonderwash things for a while. :) It's still on backorder at Amazon last time I looked. Maybe I'll get lucky. lol!

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  11. I want to now where you found that wringer attached to the galvanized tub, photo on the right column... it's wonderful!

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  12. What a generous gift this time! I'd love to try it. We, too, have given up our drier (ok....husband still likes to use it for towels/sheets, as our drying racks aren't that big...I call him a wimp.).

    Please sign me up! Mary

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  13. Wow, I have always wanted one of these....Sign me up for the giveaway and maybe I will be lucky this time!

    Victoria Tory

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  14. Please sign me up for the washer drawing. I do a lot of wash by hand in the summer. I have often thought that a washer like that would make doing the underwear and socks less tedious (and less gross).

    Thanks!

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  15. I'd love to be entered in this giveaway :)

    Robbyn
    http://homesteadingthebackforty.blogspot.com

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  16. I would love to have one of these! Please sign me up! A couple years ago, our washer took the trip and at the time we had no money to fix it or buy a new one. I washed our clothes by hand in the bathtub using hot water and a washboard for 6 weeks! Needless to say, we reused towels a lot and wore the same things (except for underwear) several things. It was hard work and my hands were trashed by the end of that 6 week period but boy were my arms buff! lol

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  17. Gee... I wish I lived in your neck of the woods! I would have loved to be entered in the draw for this!! However... I am Canadian, eh? Perhaps next time...

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  18. This is a great giveaway. Thank you for letting me enter.

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  19. The wonderwash is on my list. Even though my family is on the larger size (5 ppl) I think it would be handy to have in an emergency for sure. Or even better, as a "lesson in responsibility" for my teenager when she's in trouble.

    Please throw my name in the hat!

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  20. Oh Please put my name in. I could use one of these when we move out to the "land".

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  21. Please sign me up. My washer is broken right now and I have been taking the children's clothes to my MIL's house to wash them. The grown ups clothes are being washed in the tub. Winning would save me from having to drive to her house each day (I'd still go, but I prefer to bike there).

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  22. Please sign me up for the Wonderwash drawing! While my husband and I won't be able to use it for our normal laundry, it's something that we've had our eyes on for when we have littles and are doing cloth diapering. (Not to mention it's a good starting point for young kids to start doing their own laundry!)

    ~TashaMarie

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  23. Wendy,
    Please add me to the drawing. I stopped using my dryer a while ago, and now have my electric bill reduced greatly. I had just been wishing there was a way to eliminate the washing machine. Since it's just me the small size would probably work perfectly. How cool! Never seen one before.

    Have been using homemade laundry soap as well.
    ~Judy

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  24. Please sign me up. We're working toward moving to a little cabin that meets our needs not our and societies overblown wants. We're trying to be as self sufficient as possible and that little washer would be perfect.

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  25. I find it amazing that the blogs I read seem to be about the same thing lately - laundry. This one might interest you as well:

    http://www.theredneckmommy.com/2011/03/04/nobody-likes-a-hypocrite/

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  26. W

    Its an interesting equation between cheap/free washers and V. expensive but energy efficient washers, my ex just dropped £400 (yes thats about $600) on a new washer and swears it's great (I would too for £400) her main criteria is how quickly it completes a cycle.

    I've kept my mums Bosch on the road for about 13 years, it's had a new set of bearings and some pump seals just keeps rockin' on. I'm hoping Ex Mrs SBW's will be as easy.

    I guess I'm preaching to the choir here, but its worth mentioning, the phosphates in washing detergent are fantastic for fruit trees and willow which my permaculture pals tell me is the fastest replenishing fire wood to grow

    SBW

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  27. OMG! I've been watching my local Craig's List for a Wonderwash forever! YEs, I can afford it new...pretty well, but I don't want to use a credit card...

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  28. I LOVE my WonderWash. We have three kids (really four but one is 22 and lives elsewhere). This summer our pump went out..while we were waiting our turn for the pump repair guy I used the Wonder Wash for a week to do laundry. We had a large, above ground pool and I would use a big bucket to scoop water out, heat it and wash clothing. I had another bucket of cold water to rinse. We also had fun swimming each night. Before getting in we would pour a bucket over our head, soap and shampoo up, and pour another bucket over our head to rinse, then hop in the pool to swim under the stars. It was loads of fun, and we made lots of fun memories. The Wonder Wash is small and not designed for bedding, but I was able to keep up with underwear, shirts, shorts and towels. My friends and family thought I was crazy, and kept telling me to go to the laundromat or stay in a hotel, but why? I live in the country, and the nearest one was 10 miles away. The point of being self sufficient was knowing how to use these things when needed. ;-) I was so proud of myself

    http://theprairiewife.blogspot.com/2011/08/day-4-of-no-water-laundry.html

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