There are many ways to hand wash clothes and around the world people hand wash their clothing differently.
I have always been fascinated with the cement wash areas in communities in different parts of the world and how some put in a flat stone that they use to wash the clothing.
But many use buckets and tubs and pans.
I have used many methods always trying to improve on this method because I want the laundry to be very clean. The one that works well for me the best and getting the laundry the most clean is using a narrow tall 15 gallon barrel. I don't put 15 gallons of water in it, I normally put 7 gallons of water. I use more water to rinse. I use the stick plunger thing to agitate the clothes through the water and it works very well.
Two questions, how to hand wash laundry without rubbing my fingers raw and how do I not waste water hand washing laundry?
Well this plunger laundry thing will build arm muscles and your fingers will not be raw. If you don't use a laundry plunger then plunge with your hands and squeeze water through the clothes instead of rubbing friction against your skin.
The plunger is squishing soap and water through the clothes.
Using the tall narrow bucket/barrel will help save water.
But what if we do not have a deep narrow bucket/barrel?
If you do need a washboard and don't have one we made this one using a bathtub mat and a board. You can lay it down and your garment on top and put your wet piece of laundry, soap it and scrub across, turn, soap, scrub etc then pour some water over it and squish etc. squeeze then add to a bucket of rinse water. A wash board can help really dirty clothes but squishing and squeezing needs to be done too.
We need a way to squeeze the water out of your clothes. If we don't have a wringer we can buy clamps from the lumber store and clamp one end to the top of a fence or something and twist and wring the water out. If you have a second person you can have them hold the other side.
We can plunge laundry or just hand plunge the laundry in a five gallon bucket.
Saying all of this. It is important to pre soak laundry that will be hand washed because it will help to loosen the dirt. It does not take a lot of water to pre soak just wet it and let it soak.
Also we do not have to use a lot of soap to get our clothes clean.
I normally do two rinses to make sure the laundry is clean. I can hand wash my laundry cleaner than our HE non cleaning machine.
I have brought the barrels inside and put them in the tub when the weather outside is too hot or too cold. Wear clothing that you don't mind getting wet because water will normally splash when doing laundry.
If you have the time you can sit on a low stool with a large pan of soapy water in front of you and get your clothes clean by swishing, rubbing, lifting, plunging the clothes with your hands. Then squeeze and move them to a pan or bucket of clean water, swish, squeeze and then rinse them in one more pan of water.
The best way to save water washing clothes is to stop washing our clothes so much. Wear our clothes, then hang them up overnight and wear them again. We can pick two outfits for the week, day one wear one outfit then hang it up that evening, wear the other the next day, wear day one outfit the next and so on. Wearing an apron helps to keep our clothes clean.
People did not wash their clothes as often and we have become wasteful. Also we do not need large towels to dry after bathing. Use a simple washcloth to pat the water off, squeeze the water out and do it over until all the beaded water is off. After that use a small hand towel to finish patting dry. Hang your hand towel to dry to reuse. You were clean when you used it.
Change your under clothes daily but that is really all we need to put in the laundry unless we have a very dirty job.
Sheets can be hand washed too. Soak the sheets and wash one sheet at a time, take your time and do it right. Good hot soapy water and at least two rinses. I normally do sheets on a day I am not doing other laundry when I am hand washing them.
I don't think you can get a better smell than homemade laundry soap, hand washed sheets that have hung to dry in the sun. Preferably on a breezy day.