Instructables
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:
 
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Step 1: What you need

Hardware:
A large bucket or pale 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**
Yourself
A source of water (Rain water would be great for cleaning your clothing)
A rope/ wire/ anything you can dry your clothing on

Software:
Whatever soap you wish to use
Water

Step 2: The pre soak

-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/ pale

-Fill your bucket/ pale with water to about the halfway mark of the bucket

-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/ pale

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

- Leave for at least 15 minutes

Step 3: Stomping Time

**Make sure your pale 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
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.

Gearz3 years ago
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
beatyruth6 years ago
About 30 years ago, when the hubby and I were extremely poor college students, I had to do a lot of laundry in the tub. We barely had grocery money--let alone laundry money for awhile! This method will work for most things, but not for the heavy jeans type of items and towels, or those extremely soiled like diapers (best to go ahead and do those in the tub to avoid contamination of other laundry). The best thing I found to agitate those items was a toilet plunger that was used just for that purpose. Just one of the really cheaps works the best. You get a great cardiac workout using it and save your feet from coming in contact with the detergent. I had gorgeous upper arms back then, maybe I need to go back to doing laundry that way now that my family is grown!
Love the clean toilet plunger idea. And the workout tip! However . . . please tell me you did not say "I had to do" as in you did the laundry and not the husband! Women of instructables, please do not let the men in your life get away with making you into some kind of domestic servant! Doing so is not only disrespectful of yourself and your time and abilities, but perpetuates the myth that men are naturally allowed to foist all the yucky home-and-cleaning tasks off onto women! Arise and make men do their own damn laundry! (And clean the toilets, and wash the dishes, and mop the floors, etc. ad nauseum.)
Had to or not--hubby was in school and working and I stayed home all day. Dirty diapers have to be washed somehow! Yes, it had to be done! It was my job at the time. We've been married 32 years now and he's done his share of child-raising, toilet cleaning, and housekeeping. Though I will admit dishes and laundry have always been more my chore than his! Don't assume because a woman (or man) says they had to do something that it was their job alone. At that time it was mine because that was my choice, I have also supported our family when he couldn't find work and he kept house. Growing up in the 60's was truly a liberating time and I never thought household chores were my job. Both my mother and grandmother were career women, as well as many of my aunts, my dad's mom was a traditional homemaker. I always preferred staying home anyway because it gave me a chance to play more than work!
Hi Beautyruth, We already had this discussion, remember? Read below :-)

I do occasionally feel moved to try to bring these issues into a more explicit conversation. So many men assume that they are getting some kind of willing house slave with benefits. It's pathetic. (And I am not speaking of your family!!!)

That last bit was more for the benefit of annoyed boy :-D
Yeah--thought I'd missed something here way back when! Had computer problems off and on that month and missed a lot! Would you belive I still haven't caught up? So little time and so much internets. the kids are gone and the hubby is nearing retirement and he's not adjusting well!! So goes life, I guess. I figure I'll get him trained eventually.
wow youre annoying
Doing laundry that way was a creative way to save money for things we couldn't make, no garden for food so we had to buy. He was in school full time and working and I wasn't about to sit on my duff with two babies around. Actually--we've always had an arrangement. When he worked and I stayed home I did the "chores" around the house. When I worked he did everything, but the laundry (we had a machine then, of course) because he absolutely hated it! Neither of us does the things we really hate if the other is willing to do it! Dishes and laundry were always such mindless tasks that I kind of like them, you don't have to think about them. He can and will do these chores if I'm not around or too sick, though. I'm definately not a domestic servant (You're talking to a woman who grew up in the feminist 60's!) but I like doing the housewife stuff. Will admit it's not the cleanest house in the world, but neither of us really cares about that. I can also do some of the work on the car, something I think is necessary for every woman to learn in these times. I swing a pretty mean hammer and am proficient with other power tools, so it's a good trade off for us!
Awesome! I am so glad to hear it. And it was a very creative solution!

A washboard is also a good solution. I think it would be a little easier, actually . . . and the glass ones are for more delicate laundry. I lived without electricity for a summer and this is how we washed our clothing. The place at the top of the washboard is to put your powdered laundry soap in (old-style soap, not modern washing machine detergents) and you dip the garment in the soap then scrub away on the ridges of the washboard. Not surprisingly they are for sale in a number of places, just google washboard.

They also keep feet and laundry separate. I gotta say I would not want my clothing washed by feet. Especially "delicates." <shudder>

- = -


As for my comments on women getting shunted into that domestic role - well that just makes my blood boil because so many men (and their mothers) assume men get free valet service along with their marriage license.

While of course it's not for me to -tell- another how to live, I do feel it's within the bounds of propriety to -ask- women to consider another way. The fewer women who put up with this, the less we'll be asked to do so going forward! I'm delighted for you and for all who follow you that you've lived a great example.
That's so funny!! The first time I met my future MIL, she was ironing shirts in 90+ summer heat--something she did to bring in extra money--but she ironed her family's clothes too since that was how she'd been brought up. I just looked at her, then at my husband, then back at her, and told him if he thought I was going to do that, he had another think coming!! God bless the 60's!! He did say that he told her not to do it--but she did anyway. We are all about comfort and what ever is easiest to get by with. Believe me, both my girls and boys are definitely capable of doing any household job, in or out, or making a living. A person isn't whole if they can't turn their hand to what needs doing, or won't.
fegundez16 years ago
dont forget to use your wash water to water your plants,the soap will keep pests away!
knarx fegundez16 years ago
Will this not harm the plants? Just asking because I never heard that before!?
newera (author)  knarx6 years ago
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.
josh newera6 years ago
We live in the desert and have a low water use washer, (naturally) all the grey water we use to water plants in our back yard. In some places this is illegal without a permit.
moseph knarx6 years ago
it is best if it is the hippy biodegradable kind though or it can alter the ph a lot.
cpgoofy164 years ago
you can use baking soda and vinegar for natural cleaning of clothes. It also helps take out the soap buildup of most commercial brands and renews the fabric.
blodefood4 years ago
Wow!  In my old apartment, I used a method something like this to save me money.  The machines in the building were expen$ive and money was tight.  I used my hands and rubber gloves bent over the tub.  I never thought of the stomping method which would have been easier on my back and gentle exercise for my legs.

By the way, you could, in a pinch, use a couple of tablespoons of baking soda instead of detergent.  Then, in the first rinse use twice as much white vinegar to soften clothes.  Better for you and better for the environment.

One problem, of course, is draining a heavy bucket of water.  Perhaps you might add a hole and stopper to your bucket to do that and then you could stomp some of the water out before wringing and hanging to dry.

(Note: your spelling of pale should be pail.)

Great "ible"!
treehuggers5 years ago
I just tried this out for the first time. Not only was it efficient, but a little bit of fun too! =) Thanks!
woodyardboy5 years ago
I suggest you look up SOAP NUTS and use them instead of any kind of man made detergent, or washing up powder. An eco-friendly natural way to wash your clothes, dishes, feet, car, elephant...
hk student5 years ago
If I remember correctly it takes less then 1 second for any chemical etc.on your skin to enter your system. I'm just not sure that this is the best practice because of what it you are exposing your organs, blood , endocrine system etc to. To prove this point think about the patch you can get from your doctor for motion sickness when going on a cruise. It works through osmosis. Saving the planet is admirable but saving our self is also as important . Just a thought.
The planet and yourself are inseparable, What's bad for the environment is bad for you. Use soap that is non-toxic and biodegradable, even if you use a machine. I'd suggest Dr. Bronners. They make a soap called ":Sal-Suds" that is for cleaning things rather than people, yet is fine to touch.
metqa5 years ago
i"m gonna go wash a load right now!
mooodi6 years ago
One thing you should mention which is undoubtedly only made clear in third world countries where handwashing is common, there are two types of soap. "Hand" and "Machine". Machine-soap contains enzymes that are active at high temperatures and will "burn" you skin leaving it shiny and plasticy to the touch. Hand-soap has enzymes which will be active at much lower temperatures, allowing cleaner clothes at lower temperatures and is more gentle on your hands. Needless to say the two can't be used interchangeably, the hand soap will get denatured and end up useless in a washing machine. When you're in a region where you can't get regular hand soap, you can use the machine stuff but do not let your hands/feet remain in the soap-water for too long and certainly don't do it if you have anything in excess of two loads. Rinse carefully in cold water and moisturize after you're done. Save the planet, but don't burn you skin :>
Waterproof gloves are something to consider either way
euroserf mooodi5 years ago
Hi from The Republic of Ireland, theres a zillion different recipes for " making your own laundry soap " if you go a-googlin' Try some of those using castille soap as a base and see if it is O.K on your hands...Euroserf !
As far as this step, be careful of which detergents you use as the phosphates can kill plants and otherwise pollute the local water table.
ninapratt5 years ago
Um, "pale" means lacking color, or a kind of fence. "Pail" is a bucket. Sorry. I'm an English Major. Otherwise, great instructable. Another way to do laundry is to put the pail (tightly covered!) into the back of your car and then drive around. The bumps and jiggles clean the clothing by the time you get home. Not a good idea when it's below freezing and you leave the car for long periods!
Then to dry them, as I mentioned on another thread, just hang them on a clothes rod (marketed for hanging drycleaning) and drive with the windows partially down. Parking the car with the windows closed during the day will also help dry them. Added benefit, your car smells laundry fresh.
beatyruth5 years ago
And I'm with you--been singing that song for years. Women need to stop being doormats and learn how to be people. We will never be an equal if we don't stand up for ourselves and teach men to take care of themselves, that we are not slaves or punching bags!
Great instructable, and nice to the environment! I learned how to wash stuff at home when I was a kid, watching my grandmother and mother. When I'm too broke to use the laundromat very often (like now), out comes the Woolite! I use the bathroom sink or a 5 gallon bucket, depending on how much clothes I need to wash. I fill 'er up, add the Woolite, add the clothes, crank up the radio, then splash around and make a mess. :) Never done it by foot, though... that's new, I may have to try it sometime! Always have done it by hand. You may want to try this for fast drying pants: If you have a standing floor fan, just fit the waist around the fan, put a towel under the feet so your floor doesn't get messed up, and turn the fan on. The pants will be bone dry in half an hour to an hour (depending on the fan speed and room heat). This is REALLY helpful if you realize one morning all your clothes are dirty and you're due at work in a couple of hours. :)
grebz6 years ago
If you have a radiator that might be a nice place to dry your clothes too
tghare6 years ago
Twenty some years ago I was stationed at camp Long, South Korea, the Laundry Ai-Gie-Mah took all of our uniforms and civilain clothes into the showers when we were away from the barracks. She wet them down, sprinkled the clothes with detergent and used her feet to work the soap through the clothes. She rinsed in a series of tubs then hung them out to dry. A very efficient operation using no electricity very little soap and water. I sort of use that method today with my polypropelene under garments and field clothing when camping. If you are careful, you can converve your water by washing yourself first, then your laundry. For heavily soiled items and heavy fabric like jeans, I would let them soak in a bucket of soapy water first. I use a biodegradable soap whenever possible or woolite when nothing else is available. I saw a lot of people washing their clothes on rocks by the rivers while in the mountains of Korea, I don't recommend it unless you are in a survival situation and have no other choice, it is very hard on the clothes and the envoirnment. REMEMBER - Always keep your brown water discharge at least 200 feet away from watersheds and lakes, the ecosystems can't take the imbalance.
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Might want to add this to the travel contest.