How to Wash Laundry the Pioneer Way

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Long before washing machines and dryers were invented, families had to wash their clothing by hand---a tedious project that was often saved for one day each week. Even with today's modern conveniences, however, some individuals are becoming interested in leading simpler lives that rely less on electricity and more on manpower. By learning to wash laundry the pioneer way, you will save money on water, electricity and the purchase of laundry appliances. It will also help put you in touch with the method of laundering clothing that our ancestors relied on.

Things You'll Need

  • Outdoor fireplace
  • 3 large wash tubs
  • Washboard
  • Bar of laundry soap
  • Clothesline
  • Clothespins
  • Fill one of the washtubs two thirds of the way with clean water and heat it over an open fire until it is boiling.

  • Add cold water to the washtub until it is about as warm as a hot bath.

  • Fill the other two washtubs with clean, cold water and place them nearby. These will be used to rinse the clothing after they have been washed.

  • Sort laundry into piles so that similar colors are washed together. During the sorting process, pretreat stains by rubbing the laundry soap into the clothing and working it into the stain thoroughly.

  • First wash the clothing that is the least dirty, such as underwear, bras and undershirts, saving the dirtiest pieces of clothing for last. Extremely dirty pieces of laundry such as socks, jeans and work shirts can be boiled over an open fire for 60 minutes to loosen dirt prior to scrubbing the garments on the washboard.

  • Plunge the clothing into the hot water and rub each individual piece on the washboard, adding soap as needed to remove dirt and get the clothing clean. Repeat this process several times until the clothing is clean.

  • Remove the clean clothes from the washtub and plunge them into the first rinse washtub to remove soap and other residue from the clothing. Wring out the clothing thoroughly.

  • Plunge the clothing into the second rinse tub, along with any fabric softener, for a final rinse cycle. Wring out the clothes and hang them to dry immediately on a clothesline.

  • Continue washing the laundry using this method until all of the clothing is clean. The water in the washtubs can be reused for each load of laundry until the water looks visibly dirty. While the second rinse tub will last for quite some time, the first rinse tub and the washing tub will need to be replaced more frequently, depending on the dirtiness of the clothing and the amount of soap used. Reheat the washing tub as needed so that the water stays hot.

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