Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Another laundry challenge

It's hard to believe that it's been an entire year since I started the dryer challenge.  The weather lately has been so wet, humid, gross, icky, and did I mention wet?  I was starting to think maybe, just maybe, I need to get a new dryer.

Then the sun came out.  Just in time!  An enormous pile of laundry was waiting!
I started my day by tossing a load into the washer, and went on to do some  housework, thinking how nice it would be to get the laundry caught up by the end of the next day.  Yes, it would take two days to catch up, because the washer had such poor water pressure that it took an hour to do a small load.  We replaced the hoses, no results.  Eöl checked the well tank.  The pressure was fine.  I gave up and just went with it. 

And then....the washer died.  A noisy death, just like the dyer.  In fact, it was one year, almost to the day of when the dryer passed on to the great unknown. 

Remember, this is during our temporary retirement.  Even if I thought I needed to rush right out and purchase a new washing machine, my budget would die an agonizing, shreiking, painful death.  So of course that is out of the question.

What to do?  Even if you don't know me, but read here from time to time, you know darn well that I'm the type to make the best of it.  That's life.

It's not even that big of a deal.  I'd already been hand washing our "good" clothes, since the washing machine somehow put lint on everything that went into it for a wash cycle.  And yes, I know perfectly well how to separate laundry, so it's not like I was washing towels and t-shirts together.  I used the washer for towels, work clothes that no one cares are covered with lint, and spinning out the hand washing. 

Ah! Spinning out the water!! Now how will I do that?  *shrugs* I'm still working on that problem. I've checked out the wringers at Lehman's.  Yikes.  Expensive.  Almost as much as a new washer, in fact.  Eöl is fiddling with a few ideas for homemade wringers, and if we go that route, I'll be glad to share instructions.  For now, a two person wringing job does wonders for towels.  Little Sis has happily volunteered for the job.  In fact, she pops up every time I start laundry, which never happened before.  She seems to enjoy the hand washing adventure, and we're both building up some serious muscle.  If I add up the cost of a washer, plus the cost of yearly gym memberships, I'd say I'm really saving some bucks!  Ok, ok, it's not like I even go to the gym.  I get plenty of exercise here on the farmstead.  But you get the point...

Now I proudly present the Farmstead Washing Machine:

Pictured: Farmstead washer, laundry on the solar dryer *snorts* and a goose sleeping in the background.

  I know a lot of agitating people, but they don't work. At all. Or as well. I've tried.  Ha.

The original laundry system was the two buckets.  One for washing, one for rinsing.  It worked well for small loads. But once I realized larger loads would be necessary, especially towels, I picked up the larger wash tub.  It's 18 or 20 gallons, and cost about $7. 

The agitator is based on this design available at Lehman's.  But I was impatient and wanted one right now, so I picked up a plunger for about $3, drilled a few holes, and voila!

I use the buckets as a double rinse system: rinse in one, followed by another rinse in the other one.  Once the rinse water becomes too soapy, I add it to the wash water.

I'm amazed at how much water we are saving by doing laundry this way.  We don't pay a water bill; we have a well pump.  But the water savings should show up on our electric bill, as the pump will not be running as much.  The wash tub gets about 8 gallons of water to start.  Each rinse bucket gets about 3 gallons.  My washing machine took at least 15 gallons just to wash a small load, never mind the rinsing.

I generally start with the lighter colored wash, and I can reuse the water for the next load.  The double rinsing takes out any residue: dirt, soap, etc.  Enough of the water gets leached out in the laundry, wrung out onto the flower beds, and replaced, that I don't really have to dump and start over very often.

I have a scrub brush for tough spots, but I'm hoping to check our local hardware store for an old fashion washboard, mostly for my grimy garden wear.

The first day was pretty exhausting.  As I mentioned, there were many, many loads.  7 or 8 at least.  But now, my laundry is caught up.  In fact, I don't recall ever having ALL of the laundry done at one time!  I don't have to wait until I have enough whites/lights/darks for a load.  I can just wash whatever needs washing.  Not all together, of course, but one after the other. 

I did pick up a few more packs of clothespins.  Lucky for me, Wal-mart reduced the price to .97 for a pack of 50.  My clothespin bag is full, and the first day of handwashing, I actually ran out of clothespins!  We're talking a few hundred clothespins.

Eöl strung up a few extra clotheslines for me, as well.  Those are just baling twine, with a support in the center.  Cheap and effective.

As odd as it sounds, I'm actually enjoying the new washing method.  It's portable.  I can do laundry inside or outside.  I can work in the sun or the shade.  I can enjoy the breeze and watch the various critters wander by.  I do have to keep an eye on the geese, though. They like to put grass in the rinse buckets.  Pesky critters. lol

Now to see if I can go a whole year without a washing machine.  A new challenge!  Am I up for it?  Ha! You know it! 

ps..more posts soon. I'm having some trouble with the 'net.  It's either IE or my ISP.  A hammer would solve the issue, but I'd still be unable to post. *sigh*

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