Wild Moon Cottage is a small working homestead in the pristine Ozark Mountains. We have dairy goats, poultry, organic herb and vegetable gardens, a start of a tiny fruit orchard, several black walnut trees, wild berries and fields of wildcrafting goodness. We raise our own milk, our own eggs, much of our own medicine and food. I do laundry by hand, make my own vinegar, candles, soap, bread, cheese ........ For a living I am an artist and herbalist. My goal for myself and our homestead is to be as self sufficient and self sustaining as possible.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Doing Laundry by Hand

I've been doing laundry by hand for some years now, it's hard work but I find it meditative and oddly empowering. I do have an electric washer and dryer, mainly because I take in laundry as barter and trade, but I do use them for ours in the winter or if I'm ill.

I used to have my grandmother's wringer, I so loved that thing. It attached to a wash tub and swiveled between. She took it back tho.

What I have, and have used for years, is 4 tubs, two for wash and two for rinse. One is on a stand and has a drain, I use that one for the first rinse because I change that one more often than the others. I drain into a bucket to use elsewhere. I set them up just off my front porch but also near the clotheslines. I make my own laundry powder as well.

I set up the two wash tubs with soapy water and add the laundry to the first to soak. How long it soaks depends on how dirty the stuff is or what kind of stuff. Anything soaked is easier to clean. The second two tubs get clear water and vinegar. After they soak I squeeze them out a bit and add them to the second tub. Then I add the next load to the soaking tub. The second tub is the actual wash and that's where i scrub and agitate (by hand), squeeze and add to the first rinse. Agitate and inspect for cleanliness then squeeze and add to the last rinse. They set in the last rinse to soak again then I agitate them a bit, squeeze and hang to dry.

They dry a lot quicker with the wringer but even jeans will dry eventually when hung dripping wet.

There's something special about sleeping on sheets that you washed by hand and hung to dry. Over the years I have learned to do a great deal because I had to but I also became enriched by each little thing.

Next laundry day I'll try and remember to take pictures.


Granny Sue said...

Julie, I used to wash our clothes by hand too. I used the washtub method with a wringer between the tubs in winter. In good weather, I used my hand-craned washing machine. It was one of those "milking stool" washers. I still have it but it is in need of some restoration work now because the wood is so dry after being wet for so many years. I bought the machine from a man whose mother had bought it new around 1890, he said. He was 90 when we got it from him.

I have an extra handcranked wringer that you can have if you will pay the postage to ship it. It's in very good shape--might not be as nice as what you were using, because I don't think it will swivel, but I think it would work okay.

Jo said...

Few things feel as good as climbing into a bed with freshly cleaned sheets that have been hung to dry. I feel badly for people that have never experienced the joy of simple things in life.

el vigilante said...

What a special post, Juli. I don't wash my clothes by hand, but I do hang my wash out to dry, year-round. You've got me thinking, though. We have plenty of wash tubs and stands -- I may just give it a go one of these days. :)

Lisa said...

I was directed here by Griselda this morning via facebook. I've been reading over your wonderful blog and thinking, "that seems familiar...she seems familiar." lol Finally, I realized who you are and that we have long been flickr friends. :)

You asked about dish soap and I'm not sure which recipes you've tried but this blog has a recipe and you'll probably just enjoy the blog if you don't already. http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/search/label/Cleaning

Granny Sue said...

On second thought, I'll trade you for the postage! You send me a surprise package of your products, and I'll cover the postage too. I'd really just like you to have the wringer.

Granny Sue said...

On second thought, Juli, let's trade! You send me a surprise package of your products and I will pack and ship the wringer at no cost. I just really would like you to have it.

Juli said...

Granny Sue, I would absolutely love to have that wringer. I would pay postage and send a box. My email is crowweaver@aol.com

Juli said...

I think I've finally figured out how the reply works *~*

Jo, i agree comepletely.

El, Thanks so much and I hope you do :)

Lisa, thank you for the link to the great blog! It's also very possible that we met on WWAO

Juli said...

Granny Sue, if you ever take a picture of that old washer I would so love to see it.

K said...

Thank you so much for this post! I just started handwashing all of our clothes and have been wondering how other folks do it. This was the inspiration I needed to keep at it!!