hand washing family cloth - Mothering Forums
Country Living / Off the Grid > hand washing family cloth
hram's Avatar hram 12:55 PM 02-05-2010
We are in the process of buying a yurt to put on our land. We are trying to go as simple as possible; we dont want to put a septic tank in and want to just have one or two solar panels for electric but mostly go without using electric for lights and things like that. So obviously we wont have a washer and dryer. I was wondering if anyone had experience with hand washing family cloth. I was going to get a hand washer, but am not really sure how to wash family cloth. I make my own laundry soap from baking soda, borax and dr bronner bar soap and it works great for our clothes and towels. Would that work or would a store bought soap be better? Would I just rinse then maybe put boiling water in to make sure the bacterial was killed? I coudl care less about stains, I mean Im just wiping our bottoms with it. I just want to make sure the family cloth and mama cloth is clean. Any advice woudl be great. Thanks

PenelopeJune's Avatar PenelopeJune 01:49 PM 02-05-2010
I think your own soap would be fine, especially since it has Borax in it. If it were me, I'd buy one of those little Wonder Washer things. Maybe I'm too prissy, but the idea of scrubbing my DH's poopy rags by hand makes me wanna barf. Plus, a Wonder Washer would mean that you could do them all at once, and not scrub each one one at a time.

If you don't want to do that, I'd do hot water in a bucket, and use a plunger (? Not sure what they are called...they are metal and look a lot like a toilet plunger) to squoosh them around. I'd probably also dump the water and do it again with soap before rinsing, just to make sure to kill any e-coli or other yuckies.
hram's Avatar hram 02:14 PM 02-05-2010
Thats a great idea, thanks. That way I can do them in small loads and I can use it for underwear and socks. I was going to get one of those tubs with the handle and ringer, so to minimize touching the dirties I guess Im pretty prissy too. But it makes more sense to get something smaller to do the rags and small items.
kimmom's Avatar kimmom 03:44 PM 02-05-2010
What I would add in is that you need to make sure that the water is disposed of properly afterwards. Will you be doing a composting toilet? If so your water should be put in there or straight onto the compost pile that is blocked from animals and children. Greywater also needs to be treated as septic and not held in a holding tank more than 24 hours, and used only to irrigate under the ground. We don't use cloth anymore, we hand haul water for now and live in 220 square feet with our 4 kids.. We have a composting bucket toilet too
hram's Avatar hram 06:55 PM 02-05-2010
Thanks, thats great info. I hadnt even thought that far yet. We will have a composting toilet so we can do that.
1jooj's Avatar 1jooj 12:56 AM 02-07-2010
I don't know whether your family cloth scenario includes water-rinsing of bottoms before wiping...I lived 2 years in a developing country where TP existed but was not a part of life for a huge majority of the population. There, water was used for going poo. (No cloth, but that's another conversation. ) But my point is, introducing a bottom-washing-and-rinsing step will make those cloths waaaaaay less gross. A peri-bottle, other squeeze bottle, or container with spout all make decent "butt-washers," as we call them.
hram's Avatar hram 03:06 PM 02-08-2010
I do have a peri-bottle that the girls squirt in the bath. Thats a great idea. Which, I dont expect the girls and myself to make really gross rags but washing first will be a great step. I think we will definately be doing that. Now dh says he will just dig his own outhouse rather than use cloth.
ScarletBegonias's Avatar ScarletBegonias 05:09 PM 02-13-2010
Originally Posted by PenelopeJune View Post
Plus, a Wonder Washer would mean that you could do them all at once, and not scrub each one one at a time.
Originally Posted by kimmom View Post
If so your water should be put in there or straight onto the compost pile that is blocked from animals and children.
ita with both these posts!

from all the research i've done, both pp have addressed both of the major concerns. check out the "humaure handbook" for how to setup a safe composting system for human waste. super interesting stuff! very easy too!

we will be in a similar situation: living in a yurt/tipi/converted travel trailer (stripped of those horrible cabinets and ran with solar panels) for several years with small kids and a compost toilet. i just cannot bring myself to do family cloth. i've had 4 years of cloth dipes and this next baby will be ec'ed. i can't handle poopy-pee-ee linens anymore. we will be using 100% recycled, non-bleached etc disposable tp, bought by the case instead.

the wonder washer seems essential for doing family cloth by hand though.......and actually laundry in general while grid free. it's on my list of "essentials" for grid-free, minimal solar electricity living. as long as you're using all-natural, grey-water system approved soap, you can water certain trees/plants directly with the wash water, without putting it in a holding tank (obviously NOT family cloth/dipe water - this goes in the compost pile).
calpurnia's Avatar calpurnia 08:07 PM 02-19-2010
wow, you are planning on doing all your family laundry by hand? mega respect mama! I couldn't manage it when I had to do just my laundry by hand (in the river, in a hot country with lots of drying time outside)