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Hand-washing laundry - wringer buckets? Has anyone used one for this purpose?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I am looking for a simple nonelectric system for laundry washing, mostly as a backup but will likely be used on a regular basis at some point. I really want to get a system in place so we can practice with it a bit before we find ourselves going off-grid fulltime.

I know I read somewhere that mop wringer buckets are great for wringing out laundry, and that the wringing is the "worst" part of doing laundry by hand. But when I look at wringer mop buckets, it looks like wringer design has changed over the years, and I can't tell if it would work for laundry or not...does that make sense?

Has anyone here used a new or old-style wringer mop bucket for wringing laundry? Where did you get it, how did you choose one, and how does it work for you?

And as far as washing goes, I was thinking about getting one of those blue "breather" plungers (to use with a 5-gallon bucket) that have the extra layers, more than just a regular plunger has. They are not expensive, about $20.

I looked into hand-crank pressure washers ($50 at Lehmans) but they get mixed reviews for durability, and if we can do just as well with a plunger and a 5-gallon bucket for cheaper, so be it.

Any other thoughts or suggestions? I think the washing will be easier than the wringing, and we have four kids so I'd love to have a solution for the wringing. I can't afford a James washer. Thanks.
post #2 of 21
When I've washed by hand, I've relied more on soaking than agitation to clean the clothes. Soaking will loosen much of the soil and I then rub the garment together before rinsing. I wring by hand, if a garment is heavy or large it is easier if you have a helper. You each take one end of the garment and twist in opposite directions. Easier with sheets than jeans, but it gets quite a bit of water out. I remember the wringer on my grandma's washer and while it got almost all the water out, the garments were flat as pancakes when you got done. It was hard on buttons and zippers .
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennlyn View Post
When I've washed by hand, I've relied more on soaking than agitation to clean the clothes. Soaking will loosen much of the soil and I then rub the garment together before rinsing. I wring by hand, if a garment is heavy or large it is easier if you have a helper. You each take one end of the garment and twist in opposite directions. Easier with sheets than jeans, but it gets quite a bit of water out. I remember the wringer on my grandma's washer and while it got almost all the water out, the garments were flat as pancakes when you got done. It was hard on buttons and zippers .
Thanks - I appreciate your suggestions. It didn't occur to me to wring with help. That sounds like a great family project, and good exercise, too.
post #4 of 21
I love my wringer. It is the same one that my mom and I used when I was little. Still works beautifully.

I recommend a wash board. Especially for diapers. Now, my present washboard is actually glass. I'm not sure if it was intended as a decorative piece? It was left in this place when we bought it, and I used it out of curiosity. It works SO much better than the tin ones! I love it. It really is great, so maybe look after getting your hands on one of those.

Plungers work great, so stick with that plan.
post #5 of 21
The plunger/bucket method of washing works well. I actually have a wonder washer and it's great but after using both methods the plunger/bucket method works just as well and is cheaper. As far as wringing I haven't used a mop wringer yet but have heard they're hard on clothes like another poster pointed out. I just take the items and hold around a pole then twist the ends together. It wrings clothes out well when I don't have help.
post #6 of 21
I have a yellow plastic mop bucket and wringer from home depot for just this purpose. Works fine, might not want to squish the livin' tar out of all clothes, as it will damage the fibers faster, but way better than wringing by hand, even with help.
post #7 of 21
I always thought it would be a cool idea to take an old top-loader and hook up the belt to an old stationary bike. Then you could get your exercise and do your laundry at the same time. LOL. No idea if it would actually work, but it seems like a cool idea!
post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isaac'sMa View Post
I always thought it would be a cool idea to take an old top-loader and hook up the belt to an old stationary bike. Then you could get your exercise and do your laundry at the same time. LOL. No idea if it would actually work, but it seems like a cool idea!
sure it works, lots of people have given this a whirl, you can check some of them out here:
http://www.appropedia.org/HSU_Bike_p...ashing_machine
http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/08/22/...shing-machine/
http://www.humboldt.edu/~ccat/pedalp...ing/index.html
http://www.redorbit.com/news/science...shing_machine/
post #9 of 21
I want to get into handwashing my clothes - haven't done it yet. This is what I was looking at buying, but I'm not sure if something like this is worth the money:

http://www.laundry-alternative.com/p...onderwash.html
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denvergirlie View Post
I have a yellow plastic mop bucket and wringer from home depot for just this purpose. Works fine, might not want to squish the livin' tar out of all clothes, as it will damage the fibers faster, but way better than wringing by hand, even with help.
Denvergirlie, do you have the kind that puts the mop through rollers or just squishes it? Any suggestions on choosing a mop bucket?
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by lobster View Post
I want to get into handwashing my clothes - haven't done it yet. This is what I was looking at buying, but I'm not sure if something like this is worth the money:

http://www.laundry-alternative.com/p...onderwash.html
Personally I didn't like mine. I never used it for actual clothes, just diapers, but it didn't get them clean. It was more labor intensive than if I actually handwashed and took a lot more water than if I had just filled my tub a bit and washed and rinsed that way. And you still have to wring them out after.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denvergirlie View Post
sure it works, lots of people have given this a whirl...
Nice pun!
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by amyamanda View Post
Denvergirlie, do you have the kind that puts the mop through rollers or just squishes it? Any suggestions on choosing a mop bucket?
Just squishes...

Like this:
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...atalogId=10053

Not certain if this is the same one I have, but it's much like it. I think I have a larger gallon size for the actual bucket, because it's large enough to do a bit of plunging in it without all the water overflowing.
post #14 of 21
Does the breather/plunger device work for a larger tub than a 5-gal bucket? I have a babe in diapers, two small kids, DH and self to do laundry for... 5-gal doesn't seem like a lot of space for washing.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by CageFreeFamily View Post
Does the breather/plunger device work for a larger tub than a 5-gal bucket? I have a babe in diapers, two small kids, DH and self to do laundry for... 5-gal doesn't seem like a lot of space for washing.
I think it would, but have no experience. I guess for sheer volume of laundry, you'd have to do it every day, maybe twice- one bucket for diapers and one for clothing?

After this next set of loads that we'll do at the laundromat, I am going to institue hand-washing. I just hate traveling for laundry and we haul water, so after all the traveling, I don't think there's much of a net gain in our environmental impact. Maybe there is, but it just seems like a lot of fuel to accommodate water and laundry. That, and with the new baby coming, I am not keen on spending hours at the laundromat.

I may use a galvanised washtub instead of a 5 gallon though, because now that I consider how much laundry we are likely to have, I might not be able to fit even just a day's worth into a 5 gallon bucket. I think I'll do diapers in the bucket though.

Oh, and CFF, dp and I love your blog; it's in our favourites bookmarks.
post #16 of 21

Thanks ladies! This thread was very helpful to me as well. I just moved into a place that does not have its own washer, and decided to do laundry in my bathrub and air dry on an accordion rack rather than go to laundromat, at $4 to wash and $2 to dry plus gas and soap, hauling clothes up and down 2 flights of stairs and driving back and forth to laundromat, that is too much. I could hardly breathe in the laundromat due to the cleaner chemical smells, just like in the cleaner aisle at the grocery store (hold breath and make it to the other end of the aisle ASAP). So I think I am going to use a natural castile type for bathing, with the shower with tub plugged, and when done with shower, add laundry, use Lehman's plunger and mop wringer like suggested (thank you! I can't afford $150 for a wringer), and hang on accordion rack (set up in tub). This shower has a flexible "telephone" handheld shower head which will be great for this. Voila'! I've been keeping tub plugged while showering to get an idea of how much graywater this accumulates, this definitely would be a good second use I know people used to do this (as long as the bathwater wasn't TOO dirty ; )

 

This place is a MIL apt in a 1905 house, no washer/dryer, dishwasher, or microwave (those things cause cancer, I wouldn't have one anyway). It's 285 sq feet. Right now it's just me. and I plan to use this time as a good education in how to do more things like this by hand in a small space because that is what it will be when I am off grid in a small cabin/cottage/yurt etc. Significant other is off grid planning also and his mom is a soapmaker who is going to teach me next time we get together.

 

So thanks for the info and I am going to get a mop wringer, and I have now joined the site, I didn't know it existed.  : )  Thanks ladies  : )

post #17 of 21

I have always thought that if you got the mop bucket with the attached wringer, you could always just use the mop bucket for washing and squeeze the water out with the wringer part.  

 

My words of wisdom after handwashing clothes for the past 2 years:

 

Bucket and plunger method works better than the wonder wash.  

Spring for the lehmans plunger thing.  A regular plunger works, but is only good for a month or two before the rubber part separates from the handle.

Dish soap works better than homemade soap or laundry detergent (I have hard water though).

Soaking makes for cleaner clothes.

post #18 of 21

I am currently using an electric washer.  In the past when hand washing I found that boiling (over a fire) also is a good alternative when there are stains.  The boiling water bubbles agitate the sheets and the heat kills germs (worked especially well with diapers).  It's how my grandmother always did it.

 

I use dish sop like PP.

 

My old neighbour had a crank washer (I don't know the make) but it lasted years of his using it daily.  It was a great big thing he used in the back yard.  It looked like hard work (the plunger method is probably easier) but the guy loved exercise.  He was in his seventies and had the body of someone in their thirties.

post #19 of 21

Reading some older threads here...

 

 

Quote:

My words of wisdom after handwashing clothes for the past 2 years:

 

Bucket and plunger method works better than the wonder wash.  

Spring for the lehmans plunger thing.  A regular plunger works, but is only good for a month or two before the rubber part separates from the handle.

Dish soap works better than homemade soap or laundry detergent (I have hard water though).

Soaking makes for cleaner clothes.

 

Yep! I only have 3 months of handwashing experience, but have found all of that to be true. I would also add:

 

• Wringing is easy if you do it in sections on heavier items.

• Detergent is next to impossible to fully rinse out. We use soap nuts & sometimes dish soap for bigger dirt (kitchen towels & rags especially).

• You'll never regret putting in a laundry sink in place of a traditional bathroom sink if you are building or rehabbing. We put one in our bathroom when we built our home, and it is used for everything from handwashing laundry to rinsing baby's bottom after a blowout diaper to spraying off a toddler's muddy feet. Ours is the smallest size we could find but it is deep enough for babies & toddlers to stand up in. They make bigger ones that have washboards attached.

• I think it's hard to do more than one load a day because soaking is my key to getting the clothes clean and they often will be in the sink most of the morning in various stages of soaks. So I would get a bucket or a washbin or a sink large enough to accommodate all the laundry you will want to accomplish in a week, broken up over 7 washes.

• If you don't mind some laundry buildup and the occasional laundromat trip, more clothes than you need can be a good thing. If you want to avoid that altogether, scale back on your clothes to only what you absolutely need. For me, success in avoiding the laundromat depends on avoiding getting the clothes dirty, so we try to reuse jammies for several nights, wear aprons if possible, use bibs more often on little ones, etc.

 

It has become a routine for us now & is not very hard to keep up with, BUT, dh has been traveling quite a bit and doing laundry on the road mostly. Having his big heavy clothes in the wash cycle changes things here and usually ends up with a laundromat or relatives-with-a-machine trip for us. :-)

post #20 of 21
I fill up my bathtub with my kids clothes and use the plunger, this works well. But the only issue I have is wringing out the clothes afterwards! Hope that helps...joy.gif
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