Washing clothes by hand - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 10-04-2013, 02:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Sorry if this has already been discussed- I couldn't find it in the forum search!


I am interested in hearing from other people who wash by hand. How do you do it? What is your motivation?


I am a full time student/single mom with two boys. I spend at least 50 dollars a month using laundry room in my building and I was getting frustrated! Sometimes I'd have to wait hours to wash, etc. I decided to go back to washing by hand, mostly to save money but also because I hate letting the clothes pile up and it taking over my weekend.


I've been doing it consistently every night and it takes maybe 20 minutes. Here is what I do:

Dirty clothes are pretreated for any stains and put into a five gallon bucket before bed. In the morning I put the bucket in the bathtub, fill with water and a bit of laundry soap and swoosh the clothes for about a minute, while filling up a rinse bucket. 

I leave- go to classes, etc get home in the evening and scrub the clothes for about 3 minutes, checking each item for any dirt or stains- stains are given extra attention. Rinse clothes in rinse bucket by pumping clothes in and out of water- rinse a second time in the original wash bucket. Drain, squeeze water out of clothes. Shake, hang on hangers in bathtub (I put a tension rod in the middle of the tub, allowing the clothes to drip into the bath. 


Periodically, I go to the bathroom and squeeze the clothes a little more until they are no longer dripping then they are moved to the door frames (on hangers) to dry. It takes less than 24 hours to dry this way. I do not squeeze the clothes too much, someone who wanted to could get a LOT more water out initially than I do but I really don't like wringing the clothes. 


I've been doing this for about 10 days now, washing each days clothes the next morning. I have a special hanger for drying the socks and undies, shirts are hung on hangers and so are the kids pants. My pants are plus size :D so they don't fit on hangers but I hang them on the curtain rod overnight and by morning they are almost dry- I move them to hang over my bedroom door. 


I just find this so much easier than going to the laundry room and I feel like my clothes get cleaner but it will take awhile before I'm actually saving money- I spent $15 dollars for the sock/undie drying hanger and 10 dollars for the two 5 gal. buckets plus I purchased a "rapid washer" that should arrive today- it's a plunger type tool to wash clothes with. That was 20 dollars from Amazon. Eventually I would like to buy a spin dryer, it spins the water out of the clothes, leaving them simply "damp" but those run 200 dollars and I have to remember that I'm trying to SAVE money by doing this :-D

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#2 of 5 Old 10-04-2013, 07:50 PM
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I don't hand wash but I know twisting the clothes removes way more water than squeezing alone.
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#3 of 5 Old 10-05-2013, 08:54 AM
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3 yrs ago we moved and had a house payment and a rent payment due. Add to the fact that our apartment complex didn't have laundry services I decided to wash some clothes by hand. I purchased a rapid plunger from lehmans, and old fashion wash board and from our local hardware store I purchased a mop bucket that had a wringer on the side. Everything cost about what I typically spent monthly on laundry.


I would only wash underware, shirts, pjs and clothing that wasn't heavy. Heavier things like jeans and sweatshirts would get washed once a month at the laundry mat. It wasn't romantic to do this. My hands would get cracked and hurt.

*Sheets were changed every 2 weeks, but only washed 1x a month at the laundry mat.

*Pjs were worn 2x before washing

*jeans were washed 2-3 times before washing.


As soon as we could move to a place with an in unit laundry we did.

Pax, loving wife, Homeschooling mom of 2.
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#4 of 5 Old 10-05-2013, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you both for your replies. The main reason I am doing it is to save money- 50 dollars per month = 600 dollars in a year.. After the initial start up costs (so far- 10 for buckets, 20 for plunger thing, 15 for hanger) it will be entirely free, saving me 100s of dollars per year! I'm a full time student and unfortunately this semester I wasn't able to do work study, so I am living on very little. I do have to admit I rather enjoy it though- makes me feel less dependent and I only had time to wash clothes on weekends, when everyone else was trying to wash their clothes too. I often had to go back and forth to the laundry room multiple times before finding an empty washer! I will still need to use the laundry room for bigger items like coats and bedding. Towels I've been hand washing but they take a long time to dry and I did have to wring them well. 


Paxjourney- I understand about your hands. With my new plunger thingy, I hardly need to even touch to clothes and because I'm a weakling, I have a hard time "wringing" them out- I just squeeze and twist a LITTLE, hang in tub to drip-dry. My sister has super sensitive hands like you, cracked and dry especially in winter :( I feel for you! 

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#5 of 5 Old 10-05-2013, 05:42 PM
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We lived in Peru for many years and washing machines are still a luxury item there. Self service laundromats are non existent, as are dryers. Point being- I washed a lot of clothes by hand!! With light stuff (Tshirts, baby clothes, hubby's board shorts) it was easy enough- in the summer sun, things dried within an hr or two. Sheets, blankets, jeans, etc were not so fun- I definitely wished for a machine when it came to those items. And I was never brave enough to hand wash cloth diapers, so we ended up spending a lot more on disposables than I was happy with.

Sunshine rocket, it sounds like you have a good system going! I'd still use the laundry room for the big stuff, but with your new tools, you should be able to handle everything else. And you could even get your boys to stomp around in the wash bucket to save time smile.gif I used to do that when my hands were busy holding/nursing my son-- the bonus was super smooth feet wink1.gif

~may all beings be free from suffering~
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