Wednesday, August 22, 2012

June's "The Stew" article

To plunge, or not to plunge?

That is a question that only you can answer, but why am I asking the question in the first place? Well, I have been reading at various sites online that some people use a plunger (a new, clean, toilet plunger) to wash their laundry.

Now, why would a person even want to use a plunger to wash their laundry? There are many answers to that question. Maybe you’ve gone camping and traditional laundry facilities are unavailable, maybe you think it will be better for the environment, maybe you simply can not afford to go to a laundromat to wash your laundry.

How does a person do laundry with a plunger? There are quite a few options, but the method I tried started with a new plunger, one without the additional rubber extender part (I still have no idea what professionals call this part). Put six quarter-sized holes in a circle around the rubber bell part of the plunger. These holes will help prevent the laundry soap from sudsing too much, and make it easier to rinse the soap out of your clothes.

Put some clothes into the tub along with about half the amount of laundry soap you would usually use, and add enough water to cover the clothes. Some people like to use a six gallon bucket with a lid that fits tightly, and put a hole in the lid that is big enough for the handle of the plunger to fit through (to prevent splashing, and to make it transportable). Alternatively, you can use utility tubs, kiddie pools, even your kitchen sink!

I did use a broom handle in the place of the plunger handle, for a longer reach (the better to save my back with). Unfortunately,I believe I had too many clothes in the tub, and did not use the plunger enough to adequately agitate the laundry, as the clothes did not come out clean enough for my liking. Maybe I should have tried a technique that a friend of mine suggested — to get the kids into the tub to stomp on the clothes until they were clean.

Alas, my kids are teenagers and they looked at me like I was an alien when I suggested it, but it might work for moms with younger kids!

I also had a problem wringing the water out from the clothes — that is a lot of hard work for a person’s forearms, wrists, and hands! I had to wring the clothes out after my poor attempt at washing them, rinse and agitate the soap out of the clothes, then wring the clothes again.

I now have more of an appreciation for my grandmother, who washed her entire family’s clothes by hand every day, for seven children! I also envy the fact that she had a wringer attached to a bucket, which helped her get as much excess water out of the clothes as possible before she hung them on the line.

I am sure that doing your laundry like this could work, if you have enough patience (which is a virtue I have yet to master), and so long as you do only a few items at a time. There are also a few other methods for doing your laundry by hand, but they cost a little more to get you started.

Some things that can help are: a washboard; a rapid washer, plastic or galvanized (like a plunger, but designed specifically to push water through the clothes and clean them); a wringer; an industrial salad spinner (use instead of a wringer to get excess water out, can be electric or hand cranked); a bucket; and so many more items that you may have to look online for yourself to see them!

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