Feb 172012

The hand laundry continues, with much slow progress along the learning curve.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned so far about the process, and the products.

Breathing Washer, Rapid Washer, or laundry plunger.

When I started my journey, you may recall, I went with an inexpensive rubber toilet plunger (new!). A plunger is a plunger, right?

Wrong. Of course.

The rubber plunger lasted through just a few weeks of hard use before it gave out – the rubber isn’t designed for that much bending, all the time.

The breathing washer has been a lifesaver, and valuable investment. It is a sturdy plastic cone that doesn’t flex, so no stress on it that way. It uses pressure and suction to push/pull the water through the clothes, offering very effective cleaning.

Must have tool for hand laundry.

Clothesline Drying

Wolf got my lovely new clothesline set up in the back yard. We chose this one as a good balance between the right item and the right price:

On the advice of a friend, we installed it with a T-post in the ground rather than trying to dig in its sleeve, and added reinforcing dowels on each arm with cable “zip” ties.

I use good ol’ wooden clothespins to keep things from falling off every time a breeze blows by.

That part works like a charm.

Mississippi weather? Not so much. Brief but frequent rains, and high humidity, make drying outside sometimes quite challenging. Although I try to use it as much as possible, I am very thankful that we still have our gas dryer hooked up and available!

But let’s go back to the washing for a moment…


We had purchased this wringer:

…and Wolf set me up a lovely little laundry stand with a utility sink, the mounted wringer, room for a bucket to gather clothes in from the wringer, and room underneath for storage (or, in my case, the cat boxes!).

He bought the utility sink at Lowes, then had to build a table to raise it since we’re so tall. The side also needed to be reinforced to support the wringer, and it needed a more functional drain/plug. It now lives in the “mud room / laundry room” by the back door, using the same plumbing connections the washer used.

Other than some challenges with finding a drain setup that works in that sink (which was designed for just a rubber stopper), the laundry station setup has been working out very well.

The wringer? Not so much.

First, a picky complaint: the description states, and the photo shows, wing nuts to adjust the tension. It did not, however, show up with wing nuts. Luckily, Wolf replaced the “plain nuts” that were included before I ever even saw it, and I went about doing laundry.

But the design is seriously flawed.

When mounted on the side of the laundry tub, the rollers are, obviously, dangling over the tub (allowing the water wrung out to go down the drain). Over time, due to friction rubbing the finish off, and constant exposure to water, the ends of the rods quickly start getting tiny rust specks… Which are then ground off at each use, and the greasy, rusty water drips off — right onto the clean laundry waiting to be wrung (or the next load just placed in the tub).

Over time, now, the black paint on the arms has worn all the way through, and those surfaces are rusting as well, resulting in more “gunk” in the works – which is now also creeping in along the rollers (soiling clothes as they are wrung), rather than “just” dripping down onto the clean clothes below.

The work-around we have come to is that Wolf completely disassembles and cleans all the interior bits of the wringer about once a month. Meanwhile, I wait between each load of wash (and rinse) for the drips to dry up and stop before cleaning out my tub and beginning the next load. It’s an awkward situation, but it is what we have to work with for the time being.

The company from which I bought the wringer didn’t seem concerned with my feedback, declaring that they have sold “thousands” of these over the years. They say that, while not perfect, it is made in the USA and they are proud to offer it. I feel they are likely missing the point: I imagine that most people use the wringer for weekends at the cabin, or other intermittent or light use. It still bears noting that under heavy, full-time use, it has the above (serious) issues — my suggestion was not that they stop selling it, only that they add some clarification to the description.

The manufacturer of the wringer, who previously chatted with me by both email and phone about his design ideas for related products, did not respond to my two emails on the subject, nor to an inquiry by a mutual friend.

Wolf is working on a way to rebuild the wringer that will solve this problem. He had actually hoped that the wringer company would be interested in such an improvement, and it could be manufactured this way for the benefit of a larger population. Since that’s not the case, he will do a “one-off” rebuild of my existing wringer, and I, at least, will be happy.

So, on we go.

Learning, and in many cases, building, everything from scratch…

  2 Responses to “Laundry Update and Reviews”

  1. has your husband done the “one-off” rebuild of my existing wringer? and any advice on building one from scratch??

    • You know, he has not. We’ve been distracted by health and vehicle issues, and so we’ve just been getting by with cleaning up after this one as-is.

      I wouldn’t even want to contemplate building one from scratch – all the parts seem pretty specific…

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