Like many young adults (of my generation, at least), there are three options for doing laundry:
1. Beg parents. This normally comes with a benefit of food.
2. Haul everything to a laundromat and pay $5 per load. And wonder who is watching your underwear spinning around at light-speed in the dryer.
3. Don’t. Re-wear until death, spot clean as needed and buy new undies every paycheck.
Vicious cycle, huh? Well, our grand-parents and great grandparents didn’t necessarily have high efficiency washers and dryers. They had time, the sun, the wind, and Borax. And taking a few pages from their books, I came up with my brilliant plan that, believe it or not, will only end up costing me $30 a year.
- A bucket (two actually, both with lids if you can get them)
- An old school, unused plunger
- 1 4lb box of Borax
- 1 3lb box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
- 1 3lb container of OxiClean
- 2 14.1 bars of Zote Soap OR 3 bars of Fels Naptha
- 2 2lb boxes Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
- 1-2 55oz bottle of Purex Crystals (COMPLETELY OPTIONAL! Use 1 for a light scent and 2 for a heavier scent)
- Fine Cheese Grater
AND you’ll also want a line of some sort. Army Stores have 550 Paracord which you can get other places. But a regular line in the camping section of a super store would work too.
Making the laundry soap:
Grab a bucket and start cheese grating the Zote or Fels Naptha. This is literally the longest part of the entire process. After you have grated all of the soap, gradually mix in all of the other ingredients and seal away.
Believe it or not, this laundry soap only takes 1-2 tablespoons a load, AND costs you maybe $30 a year. Hallelujah, right?
Using a washing method:
If you’re using this soap with a high efficiency washer, it will only take one tablespoon. And, as a warning, it doesn’t suds up, so don’t ever add more than that. It’s actually better for the washer and for those with sensitive skin for that reason.
If you don’t have a washing machine, you can make your own “hillbilly washer.” To make instructions short as possible, cut 3-6 quarter sized holes in the plunger’s rubber with scissors and place in a bucket.
If using the hillbilly washer, do small loads at a time, wring them out and hang them. It’s best to come home from a bad day at work, or turn on some really angry music and just plunge and stir away with the plunger.
I’ve also heard this works great on cloth diapers, so that’s a plus.
When it comes time for the lining of the clothes, its preferable to pick a hot, windy day, but sometimes you just have to make do. However in the States, we don’t have a “laundry index” like Japan does. (Seriously, it’s awesome to look at, and it makes me really jealous of the Japanese). So use your best judgement. If it looks like rain, don’t put out your clothes. If you feel like dying when you step out into the heat, probably a quick clothes drying day.