Keeping your clothes clean is important. Not only does it keep you from stinking to high heaven, but the buildup of proteins and bacteria in dirty clothes can lead to sickness, skin issues, drawing insects to your living space an in a tactical situation, if you stink, people can smell you downwind whether they can see you or not.
First you’ll need soap. Now you can use your regular laundry soap, but sooner or later you will run out and you may not be able just to trot down to the store and get a fresh bottle. So here is a great recipe for laundry soap that you can make on your own.
The recipe :
1 bar regular people soap like dove or 1/3 to 1/2 bar laundry soap
1/2 cup arm&hammer washing soda
1/2 cup borax powder
Bucket or container with lid. This makes a bit over 2 gallons.
Grate the bar of soap and put it in a saucepan. Add 6 cups of water and heat it, stirring occasionally, until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and borax and stir til dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups of hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. let the soap sit 24 hours and it will gel. Use 1/2 cup per load.
Now to the washing part
My grandmother and great grandmother showed me how to wash clothes over a fire with a cast iron washtub and washboard. It is by no means as easy as throwing the laundry into your electric washer but it will sure do the trick when necessary
First of all, don’t despair! Great Grandmother did it, so can you! She had the tools of the trade though, and you can too with a little ingenuity…
The very first thing to do is gather all your equipment. You will need: 3 large tubs, water tight. These can be made of any material. Years ago iron pots were used for this, but I use galvanized tubs or even plastic for rinsing. Laundry Soap. Of course, lye soap was used many years ago, but if you only have regular laundry soap, so much the better! You can even use bar soap like Ivory. A washing board. Yep, you really need this little contraption. Unless that is, you want to take your clothes and pound the dirt out of them with a club! Yes, some ladies actually did this to clean their clothes! Wore the fabric out pretty quickly, I’d say. Believe me, you will get very tired of rubbing your clothes on your hands, get a wash board. You might want to get a bottle of bluing for the whites, and some fabric softener. You’ll need a supply of wood for a fire and a safe place to build a fire. One of your pans needs to be able to sit over a fire. You will also need a long stick with which to move clothes out of the hot water, and to stir them in the wash water.
Now, you’re ready to start!
Build a good hot fire. Wait a little while and let it burn down a bit so that there are plenty of hot coals. Fashion a way that you can set the tub on the fire, keeping the fire underneath the tub. It is really best to have a tub with feet on it, but you can rig up a good set up using an old grill off of a BBQ or something. Even cinder blocks or large rocks can be used. While the fire is heating, you can separate your clothes, by color and by least to most dirty.
Fill two rinse tubs with cool, clean water, away from the fire.
Fill the wash tub about 2/3 with water. Let it heat until very hot, even boiling. You may even want to boil very dirty clothes like work pants, jeans or
white socks. Add laundry soap. Remove carefully from the fire and to a table or to the ground. This normally takes two people.
Pretreat any stains as you normally would. Add your clothes to the hot water, starting with the least dirty ones first like shirts and underwear.
Be careful of burning your hands in the hot water! Rub the clothes on the washboard. Adding soap as needed. Rub then plunge, rub, then plunge…..remember Far and Away?
Take the hot clothes out of the wash water with your stick, place them in the first rinse. Rinse and wring as best as you can. Place the clothes in the second rinse, adding fabric softener or bluing if desired. Don’t wear yourself out wringing, just hang up the clothes, dripping, outside. If it is in winter or rainy weather, you will have to wring them as well as you can.
Continue through the dirtiest clothes, re-using the wash water as many times as you can get away with it. Just re-heat it until you have to start over with clean water. You can use the second rinse water many, many times. The first rinse water will have to be changed frequently depending on how much soap you use.
Don’t just throw out the dirty laundry water. This can be used to clean off steps, a porch, dog runs or anything similar.
Here is a great idea for a ‘washing machine from a 5 gallon bucket from the guys at 5gallon ideas
Tip: During the winter, if you’re going to hang your clothes outside to dry, add a bit of salt to the water and it will keep frost from forming on your clothes and stop them from freezing