Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh Buckets! A Handwashing Revelation

     Well, sorry for the hiatus here for this last month, but I've had some dire and experimental situations going on. As of my last post my washer conked on me. Its not the first time, and it most certainly wont be the last. However I've spent the better part of the last month (up until 3 days ago) doing all my laundry by hand. As you can see that leaves little time for blogging when one has a new baby. To compound the dire-ness of the month we've moved off an old truck that needed junked and I've had boxes of stuff to do something with, that still need my attention. Also we have been ordering books and curriculum  to start this school year with. 
      The main subject of this particular post however is a method that have revolutionized my hand washing.
     In my last post, I mentioned that I had been struggling with the thought of using my hard earned money to purchase a WonderWash. That night after blogging I showed my husband the picture of the washer, divulging to him the workings of my inner mind. See, I had analyzed the basics of this setup for a while realizing that 
  1. Its basicly a bucket with an airtight lid and rounded corners
  2. Its leak proof (well its supposed to be according to the description)
  3. Its rotated to slog the water around and through the clothing.
  4. It is reported to be a revolutionizer of laundry lines everywhere or a complete lemon.
  5. I could make one of my own, and I could make it for nothing.
How could this be? Buckets baby, buckets! So the experimenting began. First, I get the gasketed buckets from the local bakery and use them for just about everything. The seal in the lid is airtight so I can keep my flour and sugar in them without fear of bugs or moisture getting in. 
     Following the directions per manufacture of the WonderWash, I used warm water, small amount of soap and put only a few things in at first to see what the big deal was.  My first method was to tumble the bucket end over end through the living room and kitchen (after the kids were sleeping) for roughly the minute and a half that is recommended. Cracked that lid open and I was literally astounded at the amount of dirt that was in the water. 
     Ok time to simplify. I didn't have time nor energy to walk my laundry through the house bent over all night. So I tried sitting on a chair and, using the handle, thunking the bucket back and forth tipping it at my side. I got several buckets of laundry done this way, tinkering with how many diapers I could put in it and still get them clean.  After thinking some more, analyzing the mechanics of the HE front-loading washers, I figured I could just tip the bucket on its side and rock it back and forth. This proved to be the best and most effective method yet, and my laundry, and especially my diapers were coming cleaner than with my washer. I was astounded.  And whats more, it was somewhat fun, good exercise, economical and the children were enlisted to help too. 
     With the help of my previously aquired wringer off of Ebay my laundry started getting a good sized dent. 
     It makes me realize why people wore clothes till they were REALLY dirty way back when (and wore aprons constantly as well). It just took too much time. So the kids were immediately on clothing restriction- one spot did not dirty laundry make. Aprons were used when available and extra care was taken when cooking and playing. Well, as much care as a dirt prone boy and a 5yo tomboy,  3yo "helper", wonder whiz baby and a coal miner husband could take. :-P
Thankfully this isn't my closet!
     This also led me to another realization that our clothing needed to take a serious downsizing! There was no need to have a dozen pants for said boy, or ten shirts each for said girls. The diapers were unavoidable, but easily taken care of.  That is a blog post for another day.
     Overall I learned that washing by hand didn't have to be a chore and that the amount of clothing really needed by our family was quite small. Also that a bucket worked so well that I'll probably never (yes I said NEVER) go back to using a plunger or even my rapid washer again. No wringer? No problem- wringing by hand worked just fine and I didn't have to get blisters doing it either. The only thing that wasn't as satisfactory as my washer was the men's size jeans. Well at least my husbands super grubby greasy ones. Those ones would definitely benefit from the extra swishing of an electric washer.
     Total cost $0. Had I used rainwater it would be technically completely free as we do have to pay for water. However, I think I'll be pleasantly surprised how much I'll have saved on my next water bill since washing diapers every day used up around 6 gallons or so, versus about 20-30 gallons every time the washer filled, which with diapers is three times or 90 gallons just for the diapers alone!
     Conclusion: Get one of the airtight sealing buckets from your local store bakery (they are handy for tons of stuff besides laundry) and keep it around for your emergency washer. Try it out once or twice to get the feel of it, and tuck it away. You'll be glad you did someday.


  1. What a great idea! I have a wonder wash, but now I wish I'd been smart enough to just use a bucket instead! Thanks for sharing. :0)

  2. Well you know what they say... cheapness... er...necessity is the mother of invention. :-)

  3. Love the idea! Thanks! It would make a great game for the kids, too, rolling it back and forth.

  4. Kind of crazy, but I wonder if adding some smooth rocks would help with your husband's jeans. It would really help 'beat' the dirt out of them. You might also try boiling water on them. I've done that for super greasy clothing and it works quite well. It will set stains, though.

  5. Great information.Good idea to experiment before you have to use it. That is the basic preparedness law or it should be anyway.Thanks for sharing.

  6. This post brought back so many memories of 'wash' days. I was brought up in a small house near London, UK and when Mum died, my Dad gave up work and looked after 9 children. We had chores and mine was to peel potatoes and use the scrubbing board to clean socks in the old belfast sink.
    All the best, Susan

  7. In one of the Tightwad Gazette books I read many years ago, Amy Dacyczyn talks about putting the clothes in the pail with water and soap, snapping the lid on, and putting the bucket in the back of the car or truck. Drive around for awhile doing errands or whatever, change the water for fresh rinse water, and drive some more. When you get home, the wash is clean and ready to hang. Great tip for camping trips. I'm at work right now, but I am planning on trying this asap.

    Julie Hamilton

    1. Julie, I read that too. The pressure of the warm water does a fair job without agitation, but the agitation is really necessary to get it done good.

  8. This is wonderful information to have! I am going to start collecting those buckets, every chance I get!