Thursday, September 29, 2011

Laundry 101 at Framboise Manor

my dear friend Jennifer has been doing laundry by hand for years - AND for 6 people!!! it was from reading and re-reading her posts about her laundry set-up that i knew how to set us up here at Framboise Manor with a "by-hand" system that works for us.

so here is our laundry set-up:

first off are the necessary tools of the trade! below is the tool kit containing a washboard, 2 plungers, a bottle of vinegar and a bottle of home-made laundry soap. the other bottle is one quarter bleach and the rest filled with water. i use if for whites although we have learned to get rid of whites - bahahaha!

next up is what we, here at the Manor, refer to as the "washing area". otherwise known as four big bins out in the backyard.

the first 3 bins are for actual washing up, while the fourth bin is the rinse bin. on a normal wash day we only use 2 wash bins and the rinse bin but i always like to have a fourth bin handy in case i mis-count my loads of laundry. never mind.

on to the next necessary piece of equipment: the wringing machine. otherwise known as an old drafting table.

i put our homemade laundry soap in the bottom of a clean bin and start filling the bin with the hose. the pressure from the hose makes the water nice and bubbly-ish. once the bin is half full i add our laundry. and then do the same with the other bin.

once a bin is 3/4 full, we move the hose to the other bin and start plunging. we are really good at plunging and agitation. wait no pun intended.

when a bin is full, we move the hose over to the other bin and plunge the other bin. or the other one. i have confused myself. here is a full bin still being plunged.

next up - time to get the old washboard out. we got this from jambaloney's Dad's wife, Sandy. thanks so much Sandy!

i only use the washboard on heavily-soiled items - the two plungers do well on clothes and other items that have just been worn or used once or twice.

while scrubbing on the washboard - time to fill the rinse bin. i put in a cup of vinegar, drop the hose in and go back to plunging and the scrubboard.

once the rinse bin is almost full, we start wringing the soap out the clothes in the washbin and put them in the rinse bin. we leave the clothes soak in the rinse bin for a good 10-20 minutes depending on what the items are. we also plunge and agitate the clothes in the rinse bin to ensure that they are rinsed out well.

next it's off to the wringing station. small things can be wrung out using my hands, medium-sized things can be wrung out by jambaloney's hands and larger items get wrung out here.

once each item is wrung out, it gets dropped in the "to be hung on the line" bin.

and there's the solar drying station!

we plan on getting a washer in the next month or so as soon it will be too cold to wash clothes by hand. but only a washer. we will still hang the clothes out to dry.

imagine i left a brand new whirpool duet washer and dryer with matching stands back in the city. oh well...i used to hate doing laundry. and now - for some weird reason - we love doing laundry! and we have so much fun doing it!

one last big thanks to Jennifer to teaching me how to do laundry by hand, many years ago!


  1. Im pretty sure they still make those hand-crank wringers like you used to see on the ancient Maytags. Might be easier on the hands and wrists. Probably Lehman's or a similar outfit would carry them.

  2. Now I see why you don't wear clothes very often! :D

  3. Imagine me, a product design engineer who designs the latest and greatest washing machines for laundry mats for a living, stumbling upon this blog post. For my job security, I hope not to many people take up washing their own clothes by hand!

  4. CZ - i have seen those and considered getting one. our prob for the past 10 months is that our tiny, tiny, dirt-floor basement is crowded with stuff and until we can find places for that stuff (the attic - which we are currently working on) - there is no room for a washer. but once we have the attic built, then we will be able to hook up a washer in the basement. and we will use it in the winter and then hang the clothes on the line on sunny days - i love winter line drying!

    bahhahahah Joey - you sure got our number! yep - if you don't wear clothes then you don't need to wash them!

    Ed - don't worry buddy - i don't think too many people will take it up! but you have intrigued me with your job - i will head over to your blog and find out some more! thanks for stopping by!

    thanks mmasse! it is alot of work but it is also alot of fun! we really enjoy doing our laundry now - crazy eh?

    thanks everyone for stopping by. we really appreciate your comments!

  5. oh wait - mmasse that link you sent is awesome!!!

    and if you want to see another cool one, go here:

    it's pretty cool!

  6. Washing clothes without a washing machine is something a lot of people don't think about. I believe yours is the only post I have seen about it in a long time, so bravo zulu to you for a great topic and a good write up.

    I bought a wash tub and wash board from Lehman's a long time ago. I started using a line to dry my clothes after propane reached so high prices that using the propane powered dryer was no longer cost effective. I've got a big pot for heating water on the woods stove, and a lot of detergent in the supply room.

  7. Now, I could not handle the stress to hurting body parts, bending and work of your setup. But,it certainly replaces a washer. If you wring the clothes before they are rinsed, the rinsing works much better. My mother used a wringer washer, so this is what she did. A wringer that stands alone would be a necessity to me. After the tornadi when we had no electricity, I washed three pair of pants in a cooking pot, using vinegar and water. I could barely squeeze the water out. There was no rinsing. They hung, soppy, on the clothes line until they dried. When the whole town has no electricity, you do what you have to do.

  8. Excellent article, sweet lady. Well done.

  9. Great post. Sorry for the late comment. We are not to far from this ourselves.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Holy smokes, Bunny Ears, there are easier ways to deal with that problem. Earlier we talked about solar panels and a battery bank. Does not take that much to run a washing machine.

    The adventure into homesteading today is more about blending old and new to arrive at a comfortable life. What you are doing is hard, knuckle-busting, grunt work.

    My own 680 watts of panels fill up 440 amp hours of batteries that feed through a 2400 watt inverter. Washing on a sunny day barely uses much battery power.

    You'll find solar power will bring you a dramatic improvement in quality of life. Certainly this is something to strive for.

    No money for solar? OK, simply use a 30 gal plastic drum carried in the back of your truck. That washes clothes just fine. I even did that...what an incentive to buy used solar panels.


  11. Arsenius - thank you for your sweet comment! but i must say - it was my friend Jennifer at that tipped me off to knowing how to do laundry by hand. she wrote a post about how she did laundry several years ago and i have never forgotten it! at the time i read it, i thought it must be a very difficult and tedious thing to do. but strangely enough we have had a lot of fun doing our laundry, naked, out in the sun and getting awesome tans!

    i am glad that you have yourself set up as well! we simply don't have the room for a washer and dryer - yet - but we will have room for a washer and plan to get one in the next month or so. but only a washer - we will still line dry in the winter months.

    PP - i agree - you do what you gotta do! that's the prepper spirit! as i said to Arsenius - we will be getting a washer for use in winter months but will still use our crazy set-up in spring, summer and fall months. we actually like doing the laundry together - and the fact that we don't wear clothes means we aren't doing laundry too often - bahahahah!

    Stephen, Sir, as usual it is always a pleasure when you stop by. thank you!

    MDR - do you make your own laundry soap? if you want a recipe i can give you ours.

    Winston - bahahahaha - washing clothes in your truck! although with our crappy, rutted dirt roads around here it might be the way to go!!!

    as for solar - i told you in my last email that we are all over solar!!! we had a solar-powered hot water tank back in the city and loved it! and we have a company here in cape breton that does assessments and then will set you up with full or partial solar and/or wind. that is on our list for next spring. we are very much looking forward to it!

    as usual ladies and gentlemen - thank you for stopping by! we really appreciate it!

  12. Hi Kymber,

    Love the post, and a great method you have there. As for the clothes line, I think every home should have one!

    Gav x

  13. Hey Gavin - thanks for stopping by! i agree - everyone should have a clothesline if they are physically fit enough for it not to be a huge hassle.

  14. Super post! I imagine washing this way is wonderful exercise for the body. I was wondering what you were going to do come winter as it does get a bit chilly here :-)

  15. Thanks Sue - and it really is good exercise! we have lots of fun and lots of laughs and that is always a good thing. but yep - need the washing machine to use during the winter. but the first sunny spring day - we are back to doing it by hand!

    thanks for stopping by!
    your friend,

  16. I love it - great set-up, and very informative!! I, myself, or even with my crew, can't imagine doing all of our laundry that way...well, I guess I could, but we would have to do laundry everyday or so, and that is what does not appeal to me. Naked sounds like a better answer....but can you imagine how many MORE mountain babies my man and I would have!?!?! hahaha!!

    How often do you guys have to do laundry?...I had to squint at the picture of the drying clothes to see them, five shirts?

    xo ~ michele

  17. Now - that wringer is clever :) The worst part of washing by hand is the wringing out of clothes before they get hung on the line!