Well it's wash day again and you've
got piles and piles of laundry that needs to be taken care of right
away! But you have no electricity! Now what?
First of all, don't despair! Great Grandmother did it, so can you!
She had the tools of the trade though, and you can too with a little
The very first thing to do is gather all your equipment. You will
need: 3 large tubs, water tight. These can be made of any material.
Years ago iron pots were used for this, but I use galvanized tubs
or even plastic for rinsing. Laundry Soap. Of course, lye soap was
used many years ago, but if you only have regular laundry soap,
so much the better! You can even use bar soap like Ivory. A washing
board. Yep, you really need this little contraption. Unless that
is, you want to take your clothes and pound the dirt out of them
with a club! Yes, some ladies actually did this to clean their clothes!
Wore the fabric out pretty quickly, I'd say. Believe me, you will
get very tired of rubbing your clothes on your hands, get a wash
board. You might want to get a bottle of bluing for the whites,
and some fabric softener. You'll need a supply of wood for a fire
and a safe place to build a fire. One of your pans needs to be able
to sit over a fire. You will also need a long stick with which to
move clothes out of the hot water, and to stir them in the wash
Now, you're ready to start!
Build a good hot fire. Wait a little while and let it burn down
a bit so that there are plenty of hot coals. Fashion a way that
you can set the tub on the fire, keeping the fire underneath the
tub. It is really best to have a tub with feet on it, but you can
rig up a good set up using an old grill off of a BBQ or something.
Even cinder blocks or large rocks can be used. While the fire is
heating, you can separate your clothes, by color and by least to
Fill two rinse tubs with cool, clean
water, away from the fire.
Fill the wash tub about 2/3 with water. Let it heat until very hot,
even boiling. You may even want to boil very dirty clothes like
work pants, jeans or white socks. Add laundry soap. Remove carefully
from the fire and to a table or to the ground. This normally takes
Pretreat any stains as you normally would. Add your clothes to the
hot water, starting with the least dirty ones first like shirts
Be careful of burning your hands in the hot water! Rub the clothes
on the washboard. Adding soap as needed. Rub then plunge, rub, then
plunge.....remember Far and Away?
Take the hot clothes out of the wash water with your stick, place
them in the first rinse. Rinse and wring as best as you can. Place
the clothes in the second rinse, adding fabric softener or bluing
if desired. Don't wear yourself out wringing, just hang up the clothes,
dripping, outside. If it is in winter or rainy weather, you will
have to wring them as well as you can.
Continue through the dirtiest clothes, re-using the wash water as
many times as you can get away with it. Just re-heat it until you
have to start over with clean water. You can use the second rinse
water many, many times. The first rinse water will have to be changed
frequently depending on how much soap you use.
When I get to the point that I need to change my wash water, I try
to find something I can use it for instead of throwing it out. Usually
I end up washing the porch, patio or outside of the house. You could
wash your deck, boat, or dog kennel, I guess.
The key to clean clothes is plenty of elbow grease and plenty of