As many of you know, we recently moved. We brought only the most important of our belongings, none of which happened to be major appliances ~ namely a washing machine.
With a family of 6, laundry piles up fast. Really fast. So my own personal handyman crafted a set of simple washing buckets for me to use. Just like we did at the cottage last summer.
Now, this is a slow process, and uses a lot of muscle (particularly the wringing part), so it's not something I would suggest you use for a long-term solution for a family as large as mine. But it definitely works on those occasions when you don't have a washer, or if the power is out. On the other hand, if you want to use this as your main method of clothes washing, go for it!
*Okay, hold on. I have to brag a bit and tell you about our super-incredible neighbors, who set us up with a great washer and dryer set. Along with many other gifts, that I will likely tell you about later. Their generosity and welcome have made this transition almost seamless. Alright. Where were we...?*
What you'll need:
Laundry Soap (liquid is best)
(you can find my favorite liquid laundry soap recipe here)
Two modified buckets with lids
Two modified plungers (NEW!)
Notice the holes drilled in the rubber plungers, as well as in the bucket in the lids, big enough to fit the plunger handles through.
**We bought our buckets at Canadian Tire (any building center or hardware store will have them). The plungers are from the dollar store. No need to be fancy or expensive... it's just for washing your dirty laundry.
Add about 1/8 - 1/4 cup of liquid laundry soap to the bucket. Depends on your preference. You won't need a lot to get the clothes clean. Adding too much will make it harder for you to rinse out later.
Add water to the bucket. I never really did measure the amount, but went a little over half-full. 'Cause I'm just a "bucket half-full" kinda gal. But really, it's too hard to carry when it's full, plus you'll wind up over-filling it with clothes, and they won't come quite as clean.
Note: If you're using rainwater instead of tap water, you may want to add some vinegar to avoid the smell. I used clear pond water while at the cottage last summer, and surprisingly there was no smell at all...
Take the buckets outside. No, really. You're going to splash water everywhere and make a mess.
Collect your dirty laundry ~ you'll want to have it all right there before you start. Once you have the momentum going, you won't want to stop and play hide-and-seek with your kids' hampers.
Tip - Use two different colored plungers
so you know which bucket has soap.
If you're like me and use cold water for laundry, give the wash water a good sloshing around and make sure all of the soap is blended. It saves having to rinse out pockets of unmelted soap.
Add your dirty laundry. Don't overfill! Make sure you've got lots of water to help with the agitation. That's what actually loosens and knocks out the dirt, so you want to have lots of extra water to catch it, rather than it staying stuck to the clothes.
Now, set the lid on the bucket (don't seal it, it's way too hard to get off afterward when your hands are wet!), Agitate the clothes by "plunging" ~ the harder the better. You'll want to do this for as long as you can (5 minutes, 10 minutes... your call).
Tip: Grip bucket with your knees.
Make it easy on yourself... do this sitting down.
Note: Enlisting your kids helps ~ they appreciate how much work goes into the laundry, and (in my case) they cut back on the amount of dirty laundry they made. Probably only to save themselves the extra work, but I'm not complaining.
Now for the toughest part...
Wring the clothes out as best you can... get as much as the "dirty water" out as possible. Drop the clothes into the "rinse" bucket (the one with no soap).
See how important the rinse cycle is? Yuck!
Repeat the agitation process, then wring the clothes out again.
Hang the laundry to dry on the line. Repeat the process until all of your laundry piles have been conquered. I found that I could only do a load or two before changing the water... then again, we spend a LOT of time outdoors, so our clothes get pretty nasty. Do what works for you.
Go have a cup of tea. Or a glass of wine. I won't judge. You earned it.