Every day laundry is being done by hand all over the world. Some use tubs, buckets, rivers, stones, kitchen sinks, bathtubs, shower stalls, or outdoor wash areas.
Depending on where you live, laundry is being dried many different ways.
If you have come to this page, either you are just curious or you really do need to know how to wash and dry your clothing without an electric washer and dryer.
This is me during the 1960's, I was a wife and mother and we did have electricity but no money for a washer and dryer. Even if we did, the house we lived in was not plumbed for a washer much less a dryer. But what we did have was running water, sun and wind.
Either way, you have some dirty clothes and they need washing. I am going to show you a few different methods. For light washing I will use socks. Wash the socks by soaping them up rubbing them back and forth and squeezing out the soapy water. Then rinse them in a separate tub of water.
For heavy washing or sanitizing boiling the non colored clothes was the preferred method many years ago. Boiling water moves the clothes and the steam passing through the garments loosens the dirt trapped in the fabric. It also increases the action of the soap to work on the grease in the garment.
We live in the deep south and many days it is very humid. Laundry should be started very early in the morning and we must squeeze as much water out of the clothing as we can so it can dry before it sours.
Lay the socks on a rag, if this was a shirt or pants you would use a towel. Many days you can simply hang the clothing out to dry without doing this.
Roll cloth with the socks inside
Now twist. I could not wring this and take a picture but I hope you get the idea.
Now unwrap the towel and your socks have been blotted dry. After many pairs of socks your rag will need hand wringing but it will still soak up water from your clothing.
A pair of pajamas
Roll in a towel
Twist the towel
Hang the pajamas and the towel
Many times I hang my clothes in the house at night and by morning they are almost dry. I either move them outdoors after daylight or leave them hanging inside until they are dry.
This was just an example but normal laundry is a mixture of light and heavy fabric.
Depending on where we live we have to become creative how to tackle laundry when we wash by hand. Many things can be washed in buckets, washtubs and sinks but bathtubs are difficult. I have a outdoor table in a graveled area, two buckets, two inexpensive clamps a scrub brush, soap and a flat pan for the larger and heavy clothes.
My husband wears overalls quite often when he is home working around the house and he gets very dirty. I first soak the overalls in plain water then I rub soap over the very dirty areas and brush or rub those areas.
Soaking the clothes in plain water softens the dirt and loosens the dirt by swelling the fabric and that helps loosen the dirt. If you soak the fabric too long in soapy water it could damage the fabric.
These pictures are just ideas and everyone has different containers to use for washing.
Swish them around a good bit, rub and swish, then....
On the real dirty places soap it up and scrub with a brush.
Pour some of the soapy water from the bucket occasionally and rub some more.
I cannot tell you an easy way to do this, just think of it as good exercise.
Now roll up the item and squeeze some of the soapy water out and pour fresh water over and squeeze again.
Now that you squeezed some of the soapy water out of the overalls, put the overalls or your heavy item in a bucket of clean water to rinse.
At this point I want to mention some items such as diapers, dish cloths, cheese cloths, handkerchiefs etc could be boiled in a large metal pot for disinfecting. Of course the diapers should be washed separate from the others.
Our ancestors knew to do this for sanitizing clothing. When you see vintage pictures of people boiling clothes over a big iron pot and standing there stirring it looks overwhelming but they had to do this for many reasons. One is because they did not have running water or a hot water heater and because they got very dirty and wore their clothes for many days before washing. Boiling their waters is the way they sanitized their clothes and dissolved the soap and agitate the water.
Now that you have rinsed well, there are two ways to do this. If you have someone to help,the two of you twist the item to squeeze out the water. If this is bed sheets you do the same, two people wringing is better than one but if you dont, place two clamps on the top of your item and.......
Twist the water out. The clamps are very inexpensive and very handy.
Now hang to dry and rest a bit :)
We actually have a hand wringer that we saved up for and bought from Lehmans online. They cost quite a bit but worth it. However saying this, large items are still difficult to wring out even with a hand wringer. The best thing is to wash the heavy items early in the day so they have all day to dry. This wringer was silver but it was rusting in places so I spray painted it white. I prefer it being white because it gives it a softer feel.
With the hand wringer you have to be careful and guide the buttons through flat or they could break.
I place the bucket that has the clothes that need wringing on the seat and one on the ground on the other side to catch the garment coming out of the roller. You can attach the wringer to a washtub if it is square or the correct size but we don't have one and this works just fine.
Of course if we had a lot of laundry we would use bigger tubs and have it set up different but I am just giving you an idea of how to wash.
When hand washing clothes use a scrub brush and brush over the collar area as well as under the arms and extra dirty areas.
You can get white socks much cleaner by brush scrubbing them
I am using a flat pan that I use on top of my outdoor table so the water pools up a bit.
We get real dirty around our house since we garden and work on so many projects. Picture is just to show you how nice and clean lye soap and a scrub brush will clean. Again if you have the time and ability a good boiling would help to clean these socks after this scrubbing.
Years ago people had more family around to help with chores. Today there are not as many families that have someone around to help so we have to be more creative. If you are camping and have a picnic table around and you need to wash clothes this is a good way to do the wash. It is easier for me to wash standing up with it table height. Some people are limber and can squat down close to a pan on the ground. Whatever works for you is what works.
This is where I hang some of my wash because we have many trees in our yard. I have other lines, one under our carport as well as inside the house.
Most likely if you have access to a computer to view this webpage you may be here because your washer and or dryer broke, possibly you just got married or just moved away from home for the first time and you don't have a washer and dryer. Maybe that you are thinking of living off the grid or you are already off the grid. Then there are those like us that are trying anyway we can to save money. Chances are you don't happen to have a river near by or a large rock or a washtub and scrub board. If not just use your kitchen sink, bathtub, shower stall or buckets. It will take a lot of work but it can be done.
I have a rod hanging up high on our back porch.
MY TIP: Once you are caught up, hand wash ever single day because that way you won't have much to wash. If it is raining outside then hang them on lines inside the house or apartment.
This is a line in our guest room and I normally turn on a small fan and point it towards the clothes.
I have small white hooks that are hardly seen on some of my doorways. Every room in my house has these and I have a line that fits the distance that I keep in a drawer in every room. At night I wash out things used that day and hang them before I go to bed. I only wash the large items outside. We are fortunate and have a washer and dryer and can use it when we need to but I like to save where we can and use little as we need. I also like to stay prepared for an emergency or a time when the washer or dryer has gone out like it has before.
I have all my lines cut to fit in each room. I keep them in a drawer in each room so I can just hook them over the hidden hooks. When I change sheets I hang the pillows to air with a fan pointed on them. This is a good time to open the windows and give everything a good airing. If it is a nice sunny day I will put them out in the sun.
When I hand wash our clothes I feel connected to my Grandparents and Great Grandparents. I somehow feel that I am keeping the tradition and doing what they did but my degenerative spine is not as cooperative. I have had to create my own method of washing clothes and trying to save on utilities.