Friday, January 14, 2011

Learning to Wash

Have I told you much about plans for the cabin? While creeks and lake abound, there is no access to running water. At all. While a super cool rain harvesting system and a small well are in the works, for awhile water will be precious and a chore.

So I'm learning now to wash in tubs. Sinks. I'm making myself do this so it won't be a shock or another thing I'll have to figure out once I'm facing other cabin-building challenges this spring. Granted, I'm only washing for one, but it's still a process to wash, wring and dry by hand! (And of all the things I can do without, clean sheets and clothes is not among them.) Fortunately, I've had a little help along the way.

First of all, I found a kid to teach me how to wash clothes without a washer. Priceless. I mean, few of us know how to do this anymore. Glad there's still someone out there to teach us before it matters.

Second, I cheated. I found this washer thingy. It is amazing. At first I was skeptical it would do anything but make suds, but somehow this little baby gets things clean. The ultimate test was Millie's blanket after she romped through slushy/muddy snow. (Dog hair. Dirt. Blech.) No problem for this thing. And, dare I say, it's kinda fun and a great way to relieve some stress.

Next, I found a soap that's tough, rinses clean, and didn't freak my skin out. (I have hyper sensitive skin.) Variations of this laundry soap recipe have been circulating the internet for some time, and there's a reason: this soap is the real thing. Affordable, easy, and does exactly what soap is supposed to do. I got the Laundry Soap Starter Set because it was easy. My Mom made her own batch after rounding up the ingredients from WalMart and the local hardware store. Either way, it was a smart, economical move, I think.

Next up, I plan to grab a clothes wringer. And I've forever loved the clothesline. But for now I'm delighted to have clean clothes with no electricity and limited water! Anyone else out there have memories/experience/tips for washing sans a Maytag?

(In case you wondered, I do not receive any compensation for talking about products I love. And Lehman's has no idea who I am. :)


carla said...

Brin, this brings back so many memories of the stories my parents told. My mother (now 96) never lived in a house with running water or electricity until she was grown and moved away from home. She did the laundry for her and her parents by drawing water from a cistern, heating it in one of those black iron kettles (the ones that folks have flowers growing out of in their front yards), scrubbing them on a washboard,wringing them out, hanging up and ironing without an electric iron. What a woman! My dad's mother even made her own lye soap.

Then when metal appliances were scarcer than hen's teeth during World War II, she washed my brother's diapers on a washboard out in Los Angeles.

My times of hand washing were when my husband went back to college and sometimes we didn't have money for the laundromat; also when we were in a 4 star hotel in England for 3 weeks and couldn't afford the room service laundry. However, in the scheme of things, that's not roughing it too badly.

Your posts have started me thinking about what we buy and would they be good for anything should (God forbid) we should have real disasters in this land.

One of my goals is to get the kind of floor mop thingy on wheels that will squeeze the water out (to use if I have to do hand laundry).

Ideally, I'd like to have a working, antique hand wringer that has the tubs. The only ones I see at antique stores have the electric wringer, which would be worthless with no electricity.

Anonymous said...

How do you blog if you have no electricity

jill said...

Brin, when my youngest son was 10 years old, we made a trip from GA to the Amish country in Ohio - to escape the heat & to visit Lehman's in person. We had moved to 18 acres outside the small town we lived in, and were trying our best to become more self sufficient. Chickens, gardens, dogs, it was great!

We purchased the washer thingy as well as the Wonder Washer at Lehman's and they both worked very well with the soap recipe. We came home with some great items from Lehman's including a farm bell we attached to the front porch - my boys came running whenever I used that thing - much better than hollering for them.

Please tell us more about your cabin - is this on the land you bought (I thought that was in Texas)? You are one brave, adventurous woman to load up Millie and move to a cabin with no running water. How I wish I had your gumption.

I think Lehman's sells a wringer that can be attached to a washtub. I've sold some of the items I bought there years ago (like Aladdin lamps) - I really have seller's remorse!

Unknown said...

Brin, I'm pretty sure I've read all of your blog posts, but I can't figure out what exactly is going on with the (amazing) cabin! Are you living somewhere else now (I can only assume)? Are you planning to move to this cabin long term? :or: Is the cabin for summer/vacation use? Sorry for the myriad questions, I'm just really confused!! :P Also, I love the "laundry without washer/dryer" thing - I'm going to look into it!

Unknown said...

Oh yeah...I lived in a cabin for 3 years that didn't have running water or a well, we hauled our water from a rural spring, lots of it! We had a camp potty that was heavy and gross to dump, but we did it, living the dream of my ex husband but you know what, those 3 years taught me alot, and can be blamed for my thrifty ways and conserving water like I do. It can also be blamed for my bad back! lol You will do just fine Brin! Can't wait to see it all come together!

Anonymous said...

I have no advice, except that I am loving your blog entries lately about doign more by hand (my current modus operandi, though I do have both running water and electricity in my house ;)

I would love *love* to hear more of your plans for the cabin, are you still working?

I know you like to keep a lot of things private, so forgive my nosiness, but I would love to know more about what you're up to right now.

ps I didn't comment last time, but Millie is looking beautiful! xx

Brenda said...

Thank you for the great links! We are working hard at stocking supplies in case of disaster, job loss, etc. We live in a highly populated area so it would be horrible to not be prepared. It will get extremely ugly here if anything big happens. Job loss would be much easier to handle. I would love to catch rain water off the roof of our house. We would get quite a bit. Thanks for the info. Keep us posted on your cabin progress!

Melissa H. said...

I love this post and I love the way you are living simply.

I would love to do this as well. I just need to get my husband on board. I want to learn to make bar soap and have also looked into making laundry soap.

Do you think that the cost of buying the kit for the laundry soap was close to the cost for buying each item individually? The kit seems much less intimidating.

Thanks again for the post!

Melissa H.

Anonymous said...

Yikes! Not having running water is a TREMENDOUS amount of work!! Why not wait until a proper well is dug? Boiling gallons and gallons of water for baths and hauling it. The same for any clothing to wash. And any dishes or cleaning boiling more and hauling more? I hope you know what you're in for.

Did I mention you will have to haul water every time you need to use the toilet? The tank won't refill to be flushed unless it is hooked up to running water.

There's nothing romantic about it, it is hard work every day and time consuming along with working full time I couldn't imagine it. Good luck!

Patricia @ 9th and Denver said...

Brin I've been using that laundry soap recipe for about 4.5 years now-- You're right,it is the real thing!
It is wonderful I love.

Patricia @ 9th and Denver said...

oh, and P.S.
that video of the little girl doing the laundry with a scrub board...too cute!
and very informative.

Meredith said...

Dear Brin
I always wondered why you turned off comments on some of your posts. Well recently on my blog I started expressing some of my concerns (about myself) and now I know why you have done that in the past. I was guilty of not reading comments but my husband always gave me an heads up. I think I am shutting my blog down and mine is really about quilting. LOL. Good luck with the cabin adventure.

carla said...

This post was more timely that I realized. A couple of days after reading it, my 23 year old Maytag quit. Joe ordered new belts, but before he could fix it, I washed some things out by hand. Well, sort of by hand. I used a brand new plunger and a bucket. Not as easy as an automatic washer, but it worked! Thanks for the survival idea.

terricheney said...

Bathing too requires quite a bit of water and while a tub would be nice, I can share an experience I had several years ago following an accident. I wasn't able to shower due to injuries and cast (and the rehab hospital folks believed in us doing things for ourselves). So I learned to take a bath, wash my hair and shave my legs in one little hospital sized basin, lol while sitting on the edge of my bed yet! It wasn't 'fun' but it was certainly an eye opener about how to use a little water to accomplish a great deal.

The nurses would fill the little basin about 1/3 full. I used that water to wash my hair, scooping it up with a cup to wet my hair. Then I'd rinse with warm water from a pitcher, using only about half the water. Then I'd bathe, rinse using 1/2 of what was left in the pitcher and finally shave, using the last of the water in the pitcher to rinse with.

As I said,it wasn't fun, but it was interesting...And since you'll be the one hauling water I presume you'll want to preserve what you can of it, especially if you have freezing weather to deal with.

Unknown said...

Hi there! :) I was just stopping by to let you know I gave you a bloggy award - stop by my blog and pick it up! :)

Anonymous said...

I've always washed, and still do, my delicates by hand, but hadn't considered the full wash.

Have you heard about the Wonderwash? Seems like something you could consider.

Best wishes for your country living.
So inspiring

RoseMary said...

My grandma use to have the old wringer type washer, got my hand caught in that a few times.
But I love to hand clothes out on a line, just where I live you can't do that anymore. Would love to be in the country. Thanks for the memories.

Anonymous said...

I loved watching the little girl explain cute..I read alot of survival/sustainable living blogs /sites and they suggest for rinsing and wringing out clothing buy a bucket on wheels , like janitors use, and use the wringer...

Joy said...

Sorry, Brin, but this sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. The idea of a cabin and living in the 'outback' sounds great, but wait for the running water--let the water do the running, not you. Hauling water for all your needs is pure drudgery. Sure, it's novel the first time, after that... well, let us know how it goes.