Sep 262011

My washer broke down. Great.

It occurred to me that this might be a nudge, and/or an opportune time to take some more steps towards “Off the Grid” living.

So, I’ve been washing clothes in a 5-gallon bucket (I bought one from Lowe’s, since all the food-grade buckets in the house are in demand for bulk food storage!), and agitating with a plunger (a regular ol’ toilet plunger, new, and dedicated solely to this purpose).

It seems possibly adequate, although I’m not sure it will be possible to keep up with the volume of laundry we produce under these constraints.

My current “routine” (hardly routine when you’re starting out and experimenting, is it?) is to start a load in the evening, let it soak overnight, then hang it outside to dry first thing in the morning. Then start a second load, which soaks all day, and gets tossed in the dryer in the evening (still having the dryer makes that part easier).

I guess it would be easier, if it wasn’t for my big problem – water removal.

You see, the “routine” above leaves out several cycles of draining the water out – after the wash, after the rinse (or two)… And each time trying to squeeze the water out of the clothes.

Wringing by hand is both difficult physically, and problematic. You just can’t wring most things to any reasonable degree of dryness. And in the case of many fabrics (like knits), you can damage your clothing by trying.

So it looks like rather than spending some $200 to buy a part for the washing machine (which of course will probably break again in a couple of years), we’re going to invest it in a wringer (which is likely to last neigh on forever).

This method of laundry-doing is no-kidding hard physical labor, though. Whew!

I feel like the Antonio Banderas character in 13th Warrior. The Vikings give him a massive sword, and when he complains that he can’t even lift it, their answer is simply,

Then get stronger!

Yes, Lord.

In many ways.

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