How many of you folks have done without a washing machine? I know some folks have, and for those of you who have not, you are lucky devils.
Our washing machine’s life cycle ended tragically, despite efforts to give it a pump transplant and belt infusion. After fourteen faithful years of laundry, it left the laundry room to go to the great scrap-pile in the sky. It leaves behind a man who still expects clean clothes and a woman who is freaked out by the people in the laundry mat.
So after realizing that if we replace it, we have to lug it to the new house (if/when we get the new house, that is another blog for another time) We (and by ‘we’ I mean my husband) decided that we would put off buying a new one until after the move and just do the smaller wash by hand, with the larger, dirtier items slated for trips to the local laundry-mat..ohh, thrills galore for me..
So after resigning myself to doing the wash either by hand or in the land of annoying people who wish to share their distorted music with everyone in the laundry mat, like it or not, I got down to business.
For those of you who are not aware how to do the wash the very old fashioned way, here is a quick rundown:
Heat water over a fire in large kettle/basin, meanwhile take your dirt caked wash and slap it around a bit, using either a specially designed stand and paddle, a handy fence and a stick, a good stiff brush, or a family member who happens to be annoying you..your choice. Get most of the dirt off and pre-treat any stains with soap, or whatever is handy for removing those particular stains-(with certain stains,like blood, you will want to try using cold water before putting it in your regular pot-boiled wash, the heat will just set that bloodstain right in, and then what’ll the neighbors think?) For your non axe murderer/stained laundry you’ll want to toss it in your washpot, careful not to dump your clothes directly in the fire, those singe-marks will never come out! Stir it around a bit with your laundry paddle/stick/severed (but no longer bleeding) human limb..adding your soap after a few good stirs, you get to stir some more!..Stir and lift clothing items for a reasonable amount of time, trying to gauge if the dirt is coming clean or not, if not, keep agitating..but if you’ve been at it for longer than 10 mins or so, you may want to smother your fire, after all you are doing wash, not cooking rice. If your wash seems to be coming clean, put out the fire and when safe to do so dump your hot water. You can also just remove the kettle and leave the fire going, the point is just to get the wash and the soapy wash water out of your pot, wring out your wash, and add nice clean water to rinse your laundry. If you happen to have a wash board and a stubborn stain, now is the time to try to get the stain out, otherwise, start your rinse into the pot and do alot more stirring, you are welcome to do this either cold or hot, just depends on what you are washing, agitate the snot out of it..or at least the soap..if it still feels soapy, dump, wring, and add more clean water..remove, wring, and hang to dry..please note that boiling your wash can be hard on colors and may cause fading and color bleeding, I am not responsible for anything you may or may-not do you yourself,your wash, or your sanity when trying this method.
Luckily most of us are blessed with indoor plumbing, which means you can do your wash in the tub, using hot and cold tap water and a washboard (if you have one, if not, the washer woman method of pulling a bit of wash up and down quickly in and out of the wash-water helps remove some dirt by gravity. ) You can also press your wash against the side of the tub instead of hand wringing, for those of you who have a hand wringing machine,a rolling pin, or a mangler, don’t gloat, just use it..
I have found that for smaller items, such as shirts,pillow cases, etc. this method works well. If you are trying to wash blankets, towels, jeans or other items which get heavy when wet you will need to drain the tub and press wring against the tub to remove water before you can carry/remove the item, unless you are he-man or the hulk, in which case, proceed normally.
Do you appreciate the job your washing machine does , yet?
For those who may be wondering about soaps, most of our ancestors used the same lye-based soap which they used for washing themselves to do their laundry with..some of the wiser ones would save and liquify the small slivers left over from bar soaps, or made a slurry with soap flakes. Lye soap made the old fashioned way may leave a residue unless rinsed well and can be caustic to laundry and hands, so please be advised.
If you have a different way that you do your hand wash, or know of a proven other method, feel free to input (in a polite and reasonable manner, those caught fighting over how to do the wash will be banished to laundry prison and forced to wash dirty socks and clown underpants for all eternity)..((Yes, I am kidding..mostly))