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  • Washing and Drying clothes when the grid is down

    Drying Laundry
    Having a washer filled with soggy laundry and the power down can be a problem especially for those unprepared. Here are some old time and Amish solutions to this problem. Please note the links provided are for informational purposes only. I am not recommending any product, manufacture or seller.

    Wringing out laundry:
    First the clothes will dry faster if as much water as possible is wrung out of each piece of laundry before attempting to dry it further. This can be done by hand. In winter this can be painful and lead to red, chapped hands, chilblains etc. Another option is a manual wringer a mop wringer (with rollers) will also work:
    http://www.lehmans.com/store/USA_Mad...___38150#38150
    These have been known to pinch fingers and anything else that has the misfortune to get caught between the rollers.

    Drying clothes outside:
    Once the water has been rung from the laundry it is **** to dry. On nice days it can dry quickly out on a line. A clothes line can be **** between trees or posts and the laundry attached to the line using clothes pins designed for that purpose. Another option is a pulley system such as this one:
    http://www.lehmans.com/store/Home_Go...thesline?Args=

    Drying clothes inside:
    This can be done in a similar method to outside drying. The trick is to get enough air dry air circulating around the clothing to dry it. Humid air, as found in a damp basement could cause the laundry to mildew and not dry properly. I have used line or two stretched between two support columns in the basement. The clothes did dry but did not smell as fresh as those dried outside.

    Various racks have also been build, improvised or purchased for this purpose. Depending on how it is finished, wet laundry can ruin the finish if left to dry on a piece of wooden furniture. It may also encourage the formation of rust on wrought iron furniture that can stain fabric.

    In one Amish home I saw an ingenious devise for drying a lot of small pieces of laundry in a small space. It was the rim and spokes of a large metal bicycle tire (without the rubber tire). It had been thoroughly cleaned and **** with cord from the ceiling. A piece of additional cord was woven in and out through the spokes around the rim of the tire frame. Smaller pieced of laundry (socks, underwear, etc.) were dried by hanging them from this with clothes pins.

    In another Amish household in the basement there were pieces of metal about a foot long and 2 1/2 inches width **** from the ceiling. There was a hole in each piece that allowed a clothes line to be run through it. The line ran almost the width of the basement and there were about three lines in total that ran parallel to each other. Each metal clothes line support piece was hinged so that it could be folded up in the ceiling joists when not in use. The basement had high ceilings so only the tallest in the family ran the risk of bumping a head on the lowered clothes line support.
    We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

  • #2
    Re: Washing and Drying clothes when the grid is down

    Washing laundry
    If it does not look like the power will come up again anytime soon during a long term emergency it may have to be done by hand. To minimize work and water usage this is how I have washed clothes.
    Equipment:
    It helps to have two large side by side sinks or tubs. One tub for soapy water to clean the clothes and another with clean water to rinse the soap from them after washing.
    PPE's: Gloves can help protect hands from harsh soaps during the washing process. It is also important to keep soap and other cleaning products from getting on bare skin or in eyes. Eye protection might be a good idea. Care may be needed to keep hot water from scaling or causing burns.
    A wash board: I've washed clotes without one but picked one up just in case.
    Agitator: I have a clean toilet plunger for this purpose. There are also manual agitators sold for this purpose.
    Appropriate soap
    2 baskets: one for clean laundry and one for dirty laundry
    A wringer (a mop wringer will work)
    A good source of clean potable water. The water souce should be nearby as carring water is heavy work but the laundry should not be set up where soapy and or dirty water can drain into streams or other water souces and pollute them.

    How I manually washed laundry:
    One time when I was a kid I overloaded our family's ancient washing machine Mom had been trying to nurse it along as long as she could. We had just moved to the farm and money was tight. The overworked machine died and was not worth fixing. Mom was furious. It would be about a month before funds could be saved up to purchase a new machine. In the mean time Mom decided my punishment for breaking the old machine would be to do the wash by hand. It was during planting or cultivating season because I remember the fine dirt in my father's work clothes turning the wash water muddy. The clothes were washed according to manufactures instructions by hand (mine) in a large sink and then the soap and remaining dirt was rinsed out with clean water. Two large side by side sinks or tubs, one for washing and one for rinsing may have made the work better. Allowing the laundry to soak for a while might have also made the job eaiser.

    Currently I have a metal wash board but I'm considering getting a wooden or glass one because they will not dent and would probably be gentler on the laundry.
    The Amish I know don't wash laudry by hand. They have washing machines with manual wringers. Some I have seen look like refurbished antiques.
    http://www.lehmans.com/store/Home_Go...01100#32901100

    Hand Washing Our Laundry (Part 1)
    I found this out on Youtube. -AC
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT_UrFxkaO0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ga-G...feature=relmfu
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMDYd...feature=relmfu
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJUp7...feature=relmfu
    We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Washing and Drying clothes when the grid is down

      How to make homemade laundry soap
      I have not tried this but it looks interesting. I don't like the idea of using a food processor to make laundry soap. There are other videos out there also. It looks like this has the basic recipe. I would also forget about adding esential oils to the mix. When pricing the ingredients that go into the homemade laundry soap it lookes like premade comercially available soaps would be cheaper. After seeing the "Hand Washing Our Laundry" video and how little soap was acctually used it might be cheaper to use the homemade soap. I am not sure on that. Please note that Boarax is a laundry additive and not a laundry soap. Doing laundry using only Borax will probaly not have the result in getting laundry as clean as it should be.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4Dlr...eature=related
      We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Washing and Drying clothes when the grid is down

        We really are spoiled by modern conveniences; even having to use laundromats is better than hand washing clothes. But that gets terribly expensive. Here, it costs $1.75 to use a smallish top loader and 50¢ for 8 minutes of drying time.

        Last year, I experimented with doing at least some laundry by hand. I think if I had to go back to the old ways, I probably would change some things. 2 lightweight layers of clothing is much easier to wash/dry than one heavy layer. The habit of wearing something for an hour or two, then tossing it into the dirty clothes would be something to reconsider. I'd be more careful about getting really dirty if I had to use a scrub board.

        I got a good lesson in putting up a clothesline. It's not as simple as stretching a nylon line between 2 anchors. I couldn't stretch it tight enough by hand to get rid of the sag; so I needed to make a center brace for it. I learned that nylon clothesline is not invincible and if left out over winter, it may break and you will be picking up your clothes off the ground. Wind wreaks havoc with hanging clothes and some brands of clothespins spring apart upon the first use.

        I tried some of the homemade liquid detergent but I'm pretty spoiled with the kind I buy. I have family members who use it, though, and love it. I found this recipe on line and it's the same one I used. Storage here is limited, so I left the soap in the "pudding" stage and only made a detergent bottle full as needed.

        http://www.raisingarrows.net/2012/03...ts-an-upgrade/
        (she does a cost breakdown of 3¢ per load).

        Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
        1/2 bar of Fels-Naptha
        1 cup borax
        1 cup washing soda
        2 gallons of water, divided

        Also need:
        a grater
        a large saucepan (8 cups or larger)
        large bucket or container with lid
        liquid storage containers for finished product

        1. Grate 1/2 a bar of Fels-Naptha into a saucepan (I still use my Bosch grater).

        2. Cover shavings with 4 cups of water and heat on low, stirring often, until soap has melted.

        3. Remove from heat. Add the borax and washing soda and stir in another 4 cups of water. Mixture will resemble pudding.

        4. Pour mixture into a bucket or other container with a lid (I used a cooler–see photo below), add another 24 cups (or 1 gallon + 8 cups) and stir well. In fact, you may want to use a whisk.

        5. Let mixture set overnight.

        6. The next day, the congealed soap will have settled to the top. Stir it back in and pour into storage containers if you’d rather not dip your hand into a bucket every time you do the laundry. I used old laundry detergent bottles.
        The salvage of human life ought to be placed above barter and exchange ~ Louis Harris, 1918

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        • #5
          Re: Washing and Drying clothes when the grid is down

          Originally posted by mixin View Post
          Last year, I experimented with doing at least some laundry by hand. I think if I had to go back to the old ways, I probably would change some things. 2 lightweight layers of clothing is much easier to wash/dry than one heavy layer. The habit of wearing something for an hour or two, then tossing it into the dirty clothes would be something to reconsider. I'd be more careful about getting really dirty if I had to use a scrub board.
          Light weight would be more comfortable especially during the summer. However, looking at Amish clothing I notice that they usually make it out of heavier and more durable fabric. I wonder if your point here is why in the 1800's people wore wool in summer? It is a tough fabric that can take a lot of abuse for all that it is hot and scratchy. Maybe it could probably stand up better to more ware between washings?

          Originally posted by mixin View Post
          I got a good lesson in putting up a clothesline. It's not as simple as stretching a nylon line between 2 anchors. I couldn't stretch it tight enough by hand to get rid of the sag; so I needed to make a center brace for it. I learned that nylon clothesline is not invincible and if left out over winter, it may break and you will be picking up your clothes off the ground. Wind wreaks havoc with hanging clothes and some brands of clothespins spring apart upon the first use.
          We have found a coated wire clothesline works much better and holds up longer.
          We were put on this earth to help and take care of one another.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Washing and Drying clothes when the grid is down

            Maybe the Amish keep with what has always worked for them? Wool turns me into a crazy person, with the itching.

            Some of the newer materials are much easier to care for than some of the older ones. I traded in my old fuzzy blankets for a couple of microfiber ones and I'm am very pleased with them. They aren't nearly as bulky when wet and they dry a lot faster. The thought of washing sheets and blankets by hand makes me cringe.

            I remember my grandmother airing our carpets out on the clothesline.
            The salvage of human life ought to be placed above barter and exchange ~ Louis Harris, 1918

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