Letter Re: An Expedient Manual Clothes Washer

Mr. Rawles:

How about washing clothes without electricity? One way that works fairly well is to take 5-to-6 gallon plastic buckets and cut a small hole in the center of the lid just big enough for a toilet plunger. Fill 3/4 ways with water add soap (you did remember laundry soap for a year right?) add clothes for about one person pants, shirt t-shirt, under wear and socks, plunged for 1 minute let soak for 5 minutes plunge again for 10 seconds. Dump out water, fill with fresh water again plunge for 1 minute dump out, fill again with clean water plunge for 1 minute dump out. Hand wring the clothes, hang out to dry or hang near wood stove in the winter to dry.

Clothes washing was something I had thought about. I was going to buy one of those old fashioned double tub sinks to wash clothes outside. The “bucket method” sounds much easier AND I already have all of the items I need.

I did think of a few things to do in addition to this. Here is how I plan to use this method. There are three in my family, so we will have three buckets and three plungers. On wash day each person will have their own bucket. The person with the cleanest clothes gets water and soap first and does the above. That water is put in the next cleanest person’s bucket and then that water goes into the dirtiest bucket. By cycling the water down the chain, we should be able to use much less water. Of course the dirtiest bucket would get an extra rinse job. We will also have laundry soap that will not harm plants, so we will use the water for the garden.

I have become an avid reader of your site. I’ve gotten more helpful information from your posters than many books and sites I have used for years. They seem stuck at the basics and have never moved on to fine tuning. Thanks for your work. – Jennifer G.