Anyone here use a washboard to wash clothes? - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-22-2008, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't live off the grid or in the country - although I aspire to both - but am doing my best to limit our reliance on the grid while still living in the city. I'm actually considering getting a washboard because I've heard/read that when it comes to dirty clothes it's still by far the best way to get them clean.

I have no idea where to post this, but thought it might be possible that someone here may be able to give me some advice. I'm figuring that I can use my utility sink to wash the clothes in since it's deep and has a drain, but had considered getting a galvinized tub because I could then do it outside and reuse the grey water. Thoughts?

I'm considering a couple of different brands. I had thought about getting one from Lehman's or the Columbus Washboard Company. I'm figuring if I go with the Columbus Washboard Company I'll want to get one of their Family Size ones, but wasn't sure about washing surface. Of the choices (glass, tin, brass, or galvinized) which would be the sturdiest and longest lasting?

I've also read some good things about one of the boards made by the National Washboard Company (Silver King Top Notch), but as far as I could tell while searching they don't appear to still be in business. I know I can probably find a used one on Ebay, but am not sure about condition issues since I'm actually planning on using it.

I figured then I'd probably just use my washer to spin the water out once they've been rinsed. I have a feeling it sounds like a lot of work, but I can't afford a new washing machine and have tried a number of different detergents (natural and otherwise) and still have a few items of clothing that just don't get as clean as I'd like them to.

I have a feeling I'm a bit of an odd duck when it comes to this issue, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

ETA: I got to thinking that the washboard I bought at an antique store for decoration in my kitchen might actually be a one from the National Washboard Company and it is! I really like it hanging on my wall, but I suppose I could use it? It's not very sturdy, though and has a glass scrubbing surface. I've felt it and tbh it doesn't seem like it'd be all that great at getting clothes clean.
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Old 07-23-2008, 01:37 PM
 
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Taking notes. We will be using one in 1 week except for dipes to go to a laundromat.

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Old 07-23-2008, 05:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm still hoping that someone else out there has done this. I did end up taking down the washboard I had bought at an antique store - it's a National Washboard Company no. 512 w/a glass scrubbing surface. I did try it out dh's pillowcases w/some Fels Naptha soap I had on hand (I use it grated in my toploader in a homemade detergent recipe I have). I did three pillowcases of his, rinsed them once afterwards and then ran them through the rinse/spin cycle in my machine. They were cleaner than they have been in a long time!

I think I might prefer one of the metal ones to the glass one, but I don't really have any basis of comparison. (Although, Lehman's website says their glass one is their best seller). I'm tempted to get a metal one just to compare, but haven't done so yet. I really want to buy one from the Columbus Washboard Company, but haven't quite figured out how to do so (especially since they are the last remaining washboard company).

I referenced their instructions prior to using mine yesterday. If I were to wash all our clothes this way, except diapers, I'd probably follow their instructions as well...and believe me, I'm actually considering it.

I'm still interested if anyone has used one what the differences are or if there's a preferred scrubbing surface. Further down the road if I actually find this works well for me then I'd actually consider a rinse tub/wringer set-up as it'd be nice to wash clothes outside near the clothesline.
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Old 07-23-2008, 11:10 PM
 
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I use one sometimes. I have a washing machine, but it is too loud to use at night in my small apartment, and I don't like doing laundry during the day for some reason. I use it in my sink or a washtub in my shower (when the sink is full of dishes and I'm being lazy). I find it therapeutic, not too hard, and the clothes get clean.

I decided I wanted to try it one day and went searching for a washboard. Then remembered one my mom had. She bought it for decoration, and promptly put it in her pantry to collect dust. That was 15+ years ago. So I "borrowed" it. I figure I will tell her when she starts missing it .

I think I read that the glass ones are superior to metal.

I use mrs meyers dish soap because I have about 20 bottles (grocery outlet had it for 99cents), and that's what I use for everything.

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Old 07-24-2008, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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LeahBoo - I had read just a short blurb to that effect on Lehman's website I think (about the glass that is). I'm still tempted to get a metal one just for comparison sake - especially since they aren't that expensive.

I did contact the Columbus Washboard Company. You have to place an order by phone at this point, although they would like to have direct sales on the internet at some point. They did say that the ones on the Lehman's website are actually theirs so if one wanted to order online at this point that would be the way to go!
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Old 07-24-2008, 04:52 PM
 
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Yeah, it can't hurt, and might be lighter weight. Not that they're all that heavy, but it could make a difference, potentially.

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Old 12-24-2008, 05:25 PM
 
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So funny, I know I am responding to this late, but I was just looking at washboards to use!

I am moving into an apt that doesn't have a washer & I don't use a dryer anyhow so I thought I would try it.

How is it working out for you? Did you get another surface?
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Old 12-24-2008, 07:07 PM
 
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I washed all my clothes on a washboard in the bathtub when I was a student in Russia.

I used laundry bar soap (although I cheated and had some packets of woolite, too) and my host mother had these weird scrubby things, sort like a kitchen scrubby made out of mesh onion bags, but not held tight in a ball. Thinking back, it was probably loosely chained/crocheted.

The ridges help you work up a lather with your hands or scrubby.

I'd wet my clothing. Scrub it up on the washboard, then drop it into the tub, where I had some water sitting. After I finished my small load, I'd agitate them all in the tub. Then I'd rinse in a tub of clean water. I did have running water, at least.

And there was no roller, so I'd have to wring as well as I could, roll it all up in a towel, then walk over it a few times.

There may be a more efficient way, but I was mostly enjoying the novelty that semester.

My undies got washed when I bathed myself. It was just easier that way. They came in the tub/shower with me and got swished around with soap/shampoo/whatever. Then I'd rinse quickly and wring out and hang them up to dry. When I didn't shower/bathe, I washed them quickly while brushing my teeth at night.

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Old 12-25-2008, 06:27 PM
 
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I wash all our laundry with a washboard. I love the glass ones from Lehman's but the metal ones work well and are inexpensive. For hand washing laundry I find that long soaking times help, and I often lay really soiled clothes over the washboard and then scrub with a scrub brush. I use a ringer and galvanized wash tubs outside when it is nice out, but sometimes just use the sink. I use the bath tub for comforters! I make my own laundry soap with grated soap, washing soda and borax, but I also use bar soap for tough stains. With a family of 5 it is hard to do all the laundry but as long as do it often it works. The hardest part right now is getting things to dry quickly in the winter. HTHs!
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Old 12-30-2008, 12:29 AM
 
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I love using a washboard but finally found it unnecessary unless the clothes are actually dirty, not just sweaty or "city" dirt. I also get better results from just grabbing the fabric and rubbing it against itself - like when you try to get a stain out of something.

For general agitation, there's a plunger washer at Lehman's for about $15 I think, but that one can rust AND it's $15 plus shipping so I took a hint from some frugal site and bought a $3 small rubber sink plunger and cut little diamond shapes out of the sides (about an inch long) so the water would force through like the baffle on the Lehman's one.

Now my laundry can be done in the bathtub, a washtub, or a pail or sink with one item. I find it much easier than the washboard and I can hold a wee one at the same time in the other arm.
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