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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Laundry Day, The Old Way

I actually enjoy washing laundry by hand, I always have. I've always done delicates by hand and have washed clothes in the bathtub, like most people have on occasion. I started washing laundry in wash tubs when I was in my teens but only did it occasionally. I've now been washing this way regularly for 12 years or so. I have an electric washing machine, which I do use but I prefer the tubs most of the time. This hot summer I've done quite a bit in the washer but eventually I will probably get rid of it completely. I also have an electric dryer but it isn't hooked up and there's no plug for it to be hooked up yet. I mainly used the dryer for the laundry I used to take in, so I could get it done and back to the guy quickly.

I've been meaning to take pictures on laundry day for a while now but always forget until I'm done. I remember the other day tho.

This is not my preferred set up, but it's working for now. I have a blue water barrel which I use to set things on, vinegar and laundry powder etc.., one wash tub on a small table, then the rinse tub which drains into a bucket below (the rinse water has to be changed a couple of times depending on how much wash). My beloved wringer is attached to the rinse tub and the laundry then falls into to the basket for hanging. I use a rubber stopper in the rinse tub but it won;t hold so I keep a very clean brink with it to hold it in place, no leaks at all. I really need to get a wash board or two as well, at least a good sturdy metal one for heavier things.

The laundry area is just off the kitchen for bringing out heated water, near the cistern (which isn't ready for use yet) and near the clotheslines. I'll eventually go back to my preferred method (double wash and rinse) when I get the laundry area set up properly. We're also working on an outdoor kitchen so heating water can be done outside in winter. Once the cistern is cleaned and ready it will supply the water via a hand pump or bucket (bucket method is used now for watering). this area will also be the kicthen garden and outdoor dinning area. For now we are blessed to make do :)

I wrote the following last year but thought I would add it here because it explains my preferred laundry set up ........

I've been doing laundry by hand for many years, 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.
For many years I had my grandmothers wringer, I so loved that thing. It attached to a wash tub and swiveled between. She took it back some years ago 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.


Natural Laundry Powder

1 4 oz. bar of finely grated hard soap (I use my own lye soap or Ivory)
1 c. washing soda
1 c. borax
1 c. baking soda

Mix all ingredients together and store in an air tight container. I use a small
frosting bucket from the local bakery with a good lid. be sure and label it.
Use 1 to 2 Tablespoons per load and add before clothing.
*** If you find it irritates your skin then you're probably using to much. Also
adding the baking soda and using Ivory for the bar soap makes a huge
difference. Also, rinsing with vinegar cleans all harsh chemical away.

*** Hard bar soap ... Fels Naptha is popular, cleans well and smell good
but is harsher than Ivory or Zote. Zote soap comes from Mexico and can usually
be found in Mexican grocery stores. I've read that it's often requested by
military folk because it keeps the sand fleas off. Ivory is the easiest to
find and the gentlest. I prefer my own soap above all the others.

*** Washing soda is just that, basic old fashion washing soda. The only kind
I've seen in many years is Arm & Hammer Washing Soda. While I add baking soda as well, it cannot replace the washing soda. Don't rely on calling your markets and asking if they have it because a lot of people have no idea what it is or where to look. It's usually located in the laundry section with the powder bleaches.

*** Borax was pretty hard to find for a while around here but the Walmarts have started carrying it again. 20 Mule Team Borax can usually be found on the
laundry isle near the laundry additives and dry bleaches.

*** Baking soda is optional but helps remove chemical residue and soften
fabrics. It also helps clean your washing machine and hoses of built up gunk.

*** Essential oil is also optional and if used for fragrance it should be added
to the rinse or it will likely be lost anyway. However, essential oils can do
more than just scent your laundry. Tea Tree oil is an excellent disinfectant.
Lavender also disinfects tho to a much milder degree.

*** I only wash in cold water and when I first started making this soap the grated bar soap didn't always dissolve so I now use my soap blender to powder
it all very fine. I grate the Ivory, mix it all up and put about 2 cups at a
time in my soap blender (a glass blender I use only for soap making) and run it
about 30 seconds to powder it and mix it all well. I've had no trouble at all
with it dissolving in cold water :)

Now to make it that fine without electricity, which many of us are striving
for, I can only think to grate it very small and then maybe use a flour sifter.
I haven't tried this yet but I intend to :)


Fabric Softener

1/4 to 1/2 c. Vinegar (brown or white vinegar, I prefer white)

Can be added to a downy ball or add to rinse water.

*** Many people worry about using vinegar because of the smell but I promise the smell dissipates in the rinse leaving your clothes smelling clean and fresh. I almost never add essential oils, I prefer the smell of sunshine and wind, but sometimes I do infuse the vinegar with lavender or mugwort.


the wild magnolia said...

I remember the wash by hand days. My Mom and Aunt used to do hand wash when we visited my Aunt for holidays.

I love to hang my wash to dry, but these days it is the
electric dryer for me.

Great post!

Anne said...

I do remember how wringer washer and put rubber diapers through that wringer diapers and explodes and I ruined a couple of shirts
Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer?or ruined a couple of shirts?
an article of the wash may
wrap several times around a roller before it is noticed; unwinding such a
piece is often difficult, sometimes impossible without removing a roller.

Juli said...

Thank you Magnolia :)

Ann, I've heard stories of little hands getting in the wringer when I was young so I have always been very carefuly and diligent about it. When running fabric through it can also get pulled back down into the rinse tub so I make sure and keep it up and going into the basket with one hand while I turn the wringer with the other. It's easy enough and ensures the laundry doesn't get pulled back through.

Akannie said...

Loved this post, and I tried using the vinegar on Saturday as I was out of fabric softener. Worked like a charm!
I bought wool dryer balls and they work great, but needed something for when I line dry (which is as much as I can in nice weather)

Had a wringer years ago, and loved it.