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I Never Replaced Our Washing Machine, Part Two -- Just Updated!

Updated on August 8, 2015

Goodbye, Old Paint. . .

Doing laundry by hand -- or rather by plunger -- has become second nature to me now. Water conservation is a real plus, as is using much less laundry detergent.
Doing laundry by hand -- or rather by plunger -- has become second nature to me now. Water conservation is a real plus, as is using much less laundry detergent.

"On top of a Ken-morrrre" to the tune of "On Top of Old Smoky"

When the washing machine croaked, I needed fo find a way to keep our duds clean.
When the washing machine croaked, I needed fo find a way to keep our duds clean.

The saga continues

In "I Never Replaced Our Washing Machine, Part One"

http://mgseltzer.hubpages.com/hub/I-Never-Replaced-Our-Washing-Machine-Part-One

I described using a Wonder Wash, which uses vacuum power to pull water and soap through clothes, saving water, soap, energy, and time. I am all about green living and even more about saving money.

After 14 months or so, the Wonder Wash gave out, and I was left with the choice of replacing the old dead Sears washing machine or finding another low-tech way to do laundry.

I chose the latter, and went online. For $18 plus shipping I bought a MobileWasher, which is a double-cone plastic plunger with perforations. It works on the same principle as the Wonder Wash; water and soap go back and forth through the fabric.

The whole set-up

My utility sink is next to the non-working washer, so I put the new laundry tub on top of the dead Kenmore. This five-dollar storage bin is just the right size. I fill the bin with water from the hookup hose which I uscrewed from the back of the old washing machine. After plunging the soapy clothes with the MobileWasher, I use a mop wringer to squeeze water out of our socks and towels. I dump the soapy water into the utliity sink by tipping the storage bin into it, then I use the fill hose to add rinse water. Clothes are popped into the rinse water, plunged again, and wrung again. Our dryer still works, but I also use indoor and outdoor clotheslines sometimes, especially for heavy items which dry slowly.

This is the way I wash my clothes, wash my clothes, wash my clothes

Laundry tub, plunger, gray water pail & mop bucket
Laundry tub, plunger, gray water pail & mop bucket

Why?

It started out as us waiting till after the holidays to get a good deal on a washing machine after the old one quit. And then I found that I preferred this more environmentally friendly, less expensive method.

The water bill is way down. I hardly use any laundry soap. It really doesn't take more time to do it this way. The clothes look better as all the soap is thoroughly rinsed out.

The only disadvantage

I have almost dropped my cell phone, which I usually keep in a shirt pocket, into the laundry tub or the wringer bucket, a hundred times. Then I put the phone aside & go upstairs without it & have to come downstairs for it.
I have almost dropped my cell phone, which I usually keep in a shirt pocket, into the laundry tub or the wringer bucket, a hundred times. Then I put the phone aside & go upstairs without it & have to come downstairs for it.

Doing laundry this way means changing habits

Other than nearly drowning my phone several times, the only real downside to doing laundry with the MobileWasher and a tub is that I can't save up all the laundry and do it in one giant wash-a-thon on Sunday afternoon. The clothes are not quite as dry when I wring them as they got when the washer spun them, so they take a little longer in the dryer. If I let the laundry hampers fill up till they spill over, then the wet clothes wait for dryer time.

I have found over the last couple of years that I really prefer to do a load of laundry once per day than to do a zillion loads on the weekend. It was just a matter of changing an old pattern I'd fallen into for years.

Plunging into the deep

I like the design of the MobileWasher. I don't have to push very hard at all to get the clothes moving. I push the pants and shirts and towels up and down a couple of minutes in saopy water, then rinse water.
I like the design of the MobileWasher. I don't have to push very hard at all to get the clothes moving. I push the pants and shirts and towels up and down a couple of minutes in saopy water, then rinse water.

The clothes get just as clean

Yes, really! I can't believe all the electricity & water I used to use by sloshing the clothes around in gallons & gallons of water, then adding all that soap & then sloshing in gallons & gallons more water to get the soap back OUT. But it's what my mother did and everywhere I lived, there was either a washing machine or I went to the laundromat with everyone else.

I started out just looking for a stop-gap way to clean our clothes until I was ready to buy a washer, and now I'm very happy with the new way of doing laundry.


If you want to read about my first efforts at doing laundry pioneer-style, here's a link to that Hub:

http://mgseltzer.hubpages.com/hub/I-Never-Replaced-Our-Washing-Machine-Part-One

Not holding the hose to fill the tub is great

I use a heavy-duty clib and a thick rubber band to keep the fill hose in place. This rig means I don't have to hold the hose while the tub fills.
I use a heavy-duty clib and a thick rubber band to keep the fill hose in place. This rig means I don't have to hold the hose while the tub fills.

Always up to date with the latest improvements!

Someone suggested using the laundry plunger with a round pail like this icing bucket to do the washing, as the plunger works better. It's true! Less Irish Washerwoman style pushing up and down. I still do the rinsing in the rectangular storage tub.
Someone suggested using the laundry plunger with a round pail like this icing bucket to do the washing, as the plunger works better. It's true! Less Irish Washerwoman style pushing up and down. I still do the rinsing in the rectangular storage tub.

Gray water & re-using the rinse water

I dump the soapy water into the orange bucket, add a splash of vinegar to balance the pH, and water the bean patch. Using gray water is a nice way to be kind to the Earth, and carrying the bucket to the garden and back saves me the cost of joining a gym.

Another way I save water, money, and time is by making the rinse water into the wash water for the next load. I sometimes need a bit more water from the fill hose, as the wet clothes take some of the water with them. Then I add a splash of saop and I am ready to wash more socks and undies.

Update! Filled the washtub without the faucet.

Water conservation is nothing new! Today I did an entire load of wash using only water from our dehumidifer. Humid summer weather has its advantages. And using less detergent means I can use less water to rinse.
Water conservation is nothing new! Today I did an entire load of wash using only water from our dehumidifer. Humid summer weather has its advantages. And using less detergent means I can use less water to rinse. | Source

Thank you for reading this!

It's great that I have books on my sustainability / green living bookshelf on perennial food, the food forest, container herbs, small space growing, urban homesteading, square foot gardening, making DIY laundry products and so on, but what I really need is community. While there are some jobs that need no explanation -- weeding or idgging a new garden bed, for example -- others aren't so self-evident. Ideas like using gray water and washing clotrhes without electricity (which I explored in this article) are more complex than they seem at first. I am adding to the number of writers I follow here, as I really enjoy seeing how others raise their food and flowers, whether off-grid or like me, on-grid and okay with being so.

Amazon review I wrote about the laundry plunger

Here's what I wrote about the Mobile Washer plunger for doing laundry without a washing machine:

http://www.amazon.com/review/R3DPC3JJMP8CUQ/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00WVTXVMC

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