the view from laundry day: personal progression, part 3 and the amazing agitator

more apartment challenges
late january brought nux and i to another apartment. i continued using cloth wipes and washing them by hand, and a generous friend bought me that same glass washboard as a gift. on top of that, i'd been given a nice standing basket by my mother, and i created a little lid for it and sewed up a quick fabric liner so that i could use it to store my wipes. this made the setup feel much more homey, and made me happier about doing laundry by hand. so out i went to our cold balcony in the kansas winter, scrubbing away at my new washboard. i washed my clothes by hand now and then, hanging them awkwardly from ribbon and yarn strung along the balcony railings.

new home, new dawn
april found us in a new home with a lovely back yard and new opportunities in laundry land. i went back to the farm at this point to clean up our leasehold, and brought back the clothesline (i was asked to take it down) along with all those weathered wooden clothespins. they promptly found a new home between two big trees in our backyard.

the house came with a washer and dryer, and i used the washer for a while and just hung my clothes out to dry on the line. i washed my wipes by hand always (i tried them in the machine once at acorn, and it didn't do a good job. plus, i feel gross putting them in a machine), and hung those out on the line as well. i was getting stubborn about washing my clothes by hand because it takes so long with bulky things like jeans, scrubbing them along that tiny washboard... i needed a new method.

at some point during these past few months, i watched 'no impact man' the documentary, and took away a new laundry idea. in the documentary, colin washes his clothes in the tub by walking around on them as the 'agitation' needed for cleaning. i discussed this with nux and we both agreed that filling a tub (even half way) would use more water than was needed, but that it was a neat idea. of course, colin was confined to a new york apartment - and we aren't. so i pulled a rubbermaid tote out of the garage, pulled out the hose, and filled it up with about eight inches of water. in went my jeans and flannels, tshirts and undies, some soap, and my feet. fun! using your feet is a fun way to wash clothes. they felt clean enough to me, and so i started washing by hand more often than using the machine.

finding a treasure
about two weeks ago i checked out a local shop called t-la-re that focuses on recycled, re-purposed, and upcycled products. they had an array of old timey things set up outside, and as i walked by my eye fell upon an agitator. up near the farm, where there are lots of mennonites and rural folk, agitators sold for $20-40. that was out of my price range at the time. the lady at t-la-re sold me this one for four dollars. can't beat that! 

combining that with my rubbermaid method, the washboard/bucket for my wipes, the clothesline, and my new clothespin bag, i am now happily washing all my laundry by hand once a week. i usually do it on my day off. it only takes about 30 minutes total to wash my wipes (wash/scrub, rinse, hang, bring in) - not including drying time. and the normal laundry probably takes about the same, even though it's more volume, it goes more quickly in the rubbermaid tub with the agitator. it's extra pleasant if i drag everything into the shade and spray some yarrow tincture on my legs to keep the 'squiters away.

here's a video of me using the new agitator. the whole premise is that the real 'cleaning' happens when the fabric is rubbed against itself (causing friction) and when water particles are forced through the weave of the fabric. if you think of it that way, this agitator probably does a better job than a washing machine with its vague shimmying. turn your sound down before you hit play - this is a noisy procedure!

the next steps
the ways i can think of to make my washing routine more sustainable are:

-using rainwater (i'm working on that)
-using secondhand metal wash basins instead of plastic ones
-make my own laundry powder/soap (i've read through a few recipes and purchased a pound of lye. i haven't made anything yet, though. dr. bronner's is expensive stuff, and once i'm able to make my own castile soap and grate it in with a bunch of baking soda and other good cleaners i should have a much more affordable cleansing agent)
-carving my own clothespins for when these hinged ones give out
-narrow down my wardrobe to essentials so there's less to wash

the 'stuff to post about' list:
-herb harvesting/infusions/use of fresh herbs/tinctures
-making pants/making clothing
-growing herbs in the garden
-growing veggies, garden details
-my work vs. hogwarts
-burn salve
-the view from laundry day
-awesome natural builder blogs
-the search for land/money/building credit
-dental health/sustainable toothcare
-sustainable clothes washing
-sustainable home/dishes/cleaning
-embroidering project (jeans)
-recent crafts - stamps, giraffe puppet, clothespin bag