How To: Bathtub Laundry

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Introduction: How To: Bathtub Laundry

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There are many reasons why one might want to do their laundry by means of the bathtub style. It could be because you want to help the environment and use human energy as opposed to electricity, it could be that you are going through a rough patch with money, or because you're on the road and need clean clothes. For whatever reason, here's the best way to do it.

Step 1: What You Need

- A large bucket or pail of some sort (I recommend those blue storage boxes)
**You can always use your tub as the bucket, but I wouldn't advise it, as you end up wasting more water than a regular washing machine, and generally get the clothing less clean**

- A rope/ wire/ anything you can dry your clothing on

- Yourself

- Whatever soap you wish to use

**In a pinch for soap, many have suggested to use 2-3 tablespoons of baking powder in the spin cycle (Step 3) and then 4-6 tablespoons vinegar in the first rinse cycle (Step 4)**

- Water

- Fabric softener (optional)

Step 2: The Presoak

- Put however much soap you believe is required for your load of clothing (I usually use only 1/2 of what I would use in a machine load) inside your bucket

- Fill your bucket with water to about the halfway mark

- Mix the water and soap with your hands until the soap is completely dissolved

- Put however much clothing you are going to clean into the bucket

- Add more water until it is at the brim of your bucket

- Leave for at least 15 minutes

Step 3: Stomping Time

**Make sure your bucket is somewhere where water damage is unlikely, and/ or is easily cleanable (which is why this is mostly done in a bathtub)**

After the 15 minute pre-soak...

- Get your feet into the bucket and start stomping!

- After thoroughly flattening one side of the clothing, move it around with your feet until the clothing is uneven again, and continue stomping

- Continue doing this for ten minutes

**For particularly thick or soiled clothing, many have suggested to do those items separately with a plunger**

Step 4: Rinse Cycles

- Start off by emptying your bucket of its water content (leaving the clothing inside bucket)

- Next, add more water to the bucket, but this time add it only to the halfway mark
**Now would be the time to add fabric softener, if you want (do this on your first rinse cycle only)**

- Stomp away!

- Continue stomping for five minutes

- After five minutes, go to the beginning of this step, and repeat twice (so that you have rinse stomped your clothing at least three times)

**This is why I said to use less soap than you regularly would, as this job can be increasingly difficult and wasteful when the regular amount of soap is used**

Step 5: Let 'em Hang!

Finding a place to dry your clothing is easy. If you live in an apartment, you can dry the clothing on your balcony off of a homemade clothing line made between two posts of some sort (I did it once with a weighted ladder and a weighted bar stool). Of course, if an area is not available outdoors, or in the winter, you can always dry your clothing over your bathtub (another reason it's called "bathtub" laundry).

Step 6: Feel Happy That You Saved a Buck, and Helped the Environment

Congratulations. You used a little less water than most washing machines do and saved a lot of energy which goes into washing and drying your clothing. Don't forget the 2-3 dollars you saved as well!

**You can save the water you used as well and use it as water for plants and your backyard, although I would suggest checking your soap or doing a Google search to make sure it will be safe**



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    I would not recommend putting soapy water on your yard. It can kill the grass, a lesson I learned the hard way.

    You should try Rockin' Green soap for bathtub laundry. It rinses out so well in my washing machine that I be it would make things easier for you washing everything by hand. It's awesome at getting stains and smells out without it being a big hassle. And, you can get sample packets from the web site that would be perfect if you're doing bathtub laundry because you're traveling. Check it all out at

    Great article, definitely a habit to consider getting into: Bathtub Laundry.

    Yeah I would totally be cautious about which products are used if it is being considered as plant water.

    I recently bought a plunger washer style hand washer kit. It comes with a special plunger for sucking the water through the material and then it has a special lift in the bottom of the bucket for the dirt to fall to. It is very cool.

    Washing clothes by hand is manual labor. Great upper body workout. But if you need to save money it saves you the cost of both the laundromat and the gym.

    If able to lift the bucket, you could also use the water to flush the toilet, you may be able to have a stopper of some sort and set the bucket over the bowl, maybe save the final rinse water in seperate container for the wash of the next load.
    Just my inner cheapskate coming through

    dont forget to use your wash water to water your plants,the soap will keep pests away!

    Will this not harm the plants? Just asking because I never heard that before!?

    No, using the soapy water will not hurt plants. In fact, some people have set up direct lines from their washing machine to a barrel outside which contains thewater. I think that he got 3 gallons of water from one load, but don't quote me.

    As long as it is soap and not detergent. The soap should be free of fragrances and other additives.