Monday, July 2, 2012

Doing Laundry in Emergencies

Doing the laundry is part of your normal routine.  Whether you have your own washer and dryer or use a commercial facility, it's a given that you will be dealing with dirty stuff at some point.  

Even in emergencies, there is just no getting around the need to do laundry.

But how do you do your laundry when you don't have electricity?

The answer is:  manually.

Happily, however, you've got choices in how you do it manually!

But how do I know what will work best for me? 

Easy--ask yourself:

How much laundry will I have to do?  Is it just me I'm planning for--or do I have a family's level of laundry to take into consideration?  Could I have more people with me than I normally do in an emergency--friends or extended family?

What you are trying to figure out, is the easiest way for you to do the amount of laundry you could at worst need to do.   This lets you figure out what to pick as your manual washing option, so you can do laundry more efficiently.  And more efficiently means easier in the long run!

So what are your options?

Now, sure, you could wash your laundry by hand in a plugged sink.  Or take your laundry down to the nearest creek and pound it with rocks.  Either works.  But the first isn't practically for doing a lot of laundry and the second isn't very secure in times of emergencies when you need to keep an eye out for bad guys at the same time you do your underwear--or sanitary for what you might unintentionally introduce into the drinking water supply!

So what we are going to talk about is using manual washing 'machines'.  These give you a lot of pluses.  They give you the ability to do even a lot of laundry on a regular basis in emergencies.  They stand up to long term use so you are covered even in extended emergencies and their long aftermaths.  They let you remain in your home or on your property for better security safety while you wash.  They improve your sanitation levels by improving your cleaning levels.  And they also make doing laundry by hand easier

And anything that makes a chore easier is good!

So let's start by learning about our options.

Now, there are typically three standard divisions of manual washing:

*Crank Turned
*Board and Basin

Let's talk about each division--remember to keep in mind your earlier answers, so you can pick which one will work the best for your needs.  And your backup!

Crank Turned

These are operated by turning a crank handle, forcing water by rotation through laundry to clean it. The fastest and lowest effort to operate--they are the best for large laundry needs or long term emergency use.  They range from the portable model types RV owners, apartment dwellers, and military personnel favor like Wonder Wash--to the full size machines used by non-electric powered communities like the Amish prefer, such as the Home Queen Wringer Washers

Board and Basin

These are the ones most people are familiar with from Westerns and other historical styled tv shows--consisting of a basin or large tub and a ribbed board (called a washboard).  Clothes are worked up and down the board to scrub them clean.  A second basin or tub is needed to 'rinse' your laundry.  There are both antique and modern set ups available for purchase.


This style uses a bucket and a specially made laundry plunger like the Rapid Washer to work the dirt out of laundry through an up and down motion.  A second bucket for use as a rinse bucket is necessary to plunge the soap out of laundry.  Again, there are antique and modern versions for you to choose from.  This set up is usually the cheapest--in fact, you can even create your own 'makeshift' set up, using a NEW industrial strength toilet plunger and two buckets.

So now that you know your options, choose the laundry set up which best fits the answers you gave earlier.  You can purchase some of these set ups from antique stores, home supply stores or warehouses.  I recommend using Amazon or Lehman's (both available for online shopping). 

But don't forget--no matter what set up you choose, you are going to need accessories!

What sort of accessories?

Think of stuff like:  buckets to haul water (and a heavy duty pull wagon if you want to be nice to yourself or the poor dude doing the water detail), more buckets to hold wet clothing or do rinses in, laundry line and clothespins for hanging up wrung out clothes for drying, sturdy laundry baskets or bags, soap and soap grater, just to start with.  If you want to be able to iron your clothing without power, you'll need metal irons (called Sad Irons).  Of course, you'll need to be able to boil water in large quantities, so have industrial strength stainless steel stockpots or even better, large cast iron dutch ovens for use over coals (you'll want to save any fuel-operated heating means for stuff like cooking!).

But whatever laundry set up you choose, take the time to read up on how to use it--and practice using it!  Believe it or not, but there are actual skills needed to effectively do your laundry manually!  Be smart and take the time to learn them before you need them.

So sit down and figure out what will work best for you and get started.

You can do your laundry even in emergencies!

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