Washing laundry (during an emergency)

(Survival manual/4. Shelter issues/Washing laundry)

Water and Wastewater quality
The effectiveness of your City’s Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants may be undermined during a high mortality pandemic or other local/regional disaster.
Current plans for antiviral and antibiotic use during a severe influenza pandemic could reduce wastewater treatment effectiveness prior to discharge into receiving rivers, resulting in deteriorating quality at drinking water abstraction points.
The research team concluded that, consistent with expectations, a mild pandemic (as in 2009) was projected to exhibit a negligible ecotoxicologic hazard. However in a moderate and severe pandemic nearly all Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants (80-100%) were projected to exceed the threshold for microbial growth inhibition, potentially reducing the capacity of the plant to treat water. In addition, a proportion (5-40%) of the River Thames was similarly projected to exceed key thresholds for environmental toxicity, resulting in potential contamination and eutrophication at drinking water abstraction points.


A.  How to do laundry by  hand, country-style,  #1
WordPress, Published May 5, 2009
“You can get a big tub and do your laundry by hand!” the Thai owners of my building announced happily when I asked them if there were any washing machines I could use, or some kind of laundry service.
Me: “Um….ok….um…how would I do that, exactly?”
I’ve washed one or two things out by hand in the sink, but any kind of large-scale laundry-washing endeavor has involved, WASHING MACHINES. But washing machines are actually rare here, especially the real, modern kind so hand-washing everything is pretty common.
Of course, any place poor enough for laundry machines to be a novelty probably has lots of people I could pay to do my laundry. However, I like doing chores myself. Also, while it’s easy to pay people to do stuff for you in Thailand, it can be quite hard to get things done the way you want — so in most cases it’s a lot simpler to do it yourself.

 Here’s how you wash laundry by hand:
1.  You need a big laundry tub, about 3 feet wide a laundry brush, and of course detergent. If you’re a princess like me, you need rubber gloves too. The giant tub is important, it really doesn’t work well to do a lot of laundry in your sink.
2.  Put water and detergent in the tub, then the laundry. Make sure everything is wet, then let it soak for 1/2 hour.
3.  Using the laundry brush, take each item of clothing and inspect it for stains, and give it a good scrub with the brush.
4.  Drain the water, and put in new, clean water.
5. Let stuff soak a little bit more.
6. Drain water, and twist out the water from each item. Once you have to twist out a towel or jeans, you will have a newfound appreciation for centrifugal force!
7. Hang each item on a hanger and put it out in the sun. In Thailand, where temperatures reach 104ºF, no one except hotels own dryers: it takes about an hour for clothes to dry in the afternoon sun.

B. Another way to wash by hand
1.  Heat the water in one of the tubs over a hot fire.
2.  Set the other two tubs up on blocks or a tree stump side by side
10-15 feet away from the fire.
3.  Make certain all tubs are secure.
4.  Fill one tub with boiling water, adding enough cold water to make it tolerable for your hands.
5.  Add a few white clothes to the wash water.
6.  Put the washboard in the tub and rub the surface with a bar of soap.
7.  Take a piece of laundry out of the water, lay it the length of and on top of the wash board. Rub soap on material.
8.  With the edge of the material held in your hand between thumb and fingers, begin to rub up and down the board with the heel of your hand, gathering and pulling the material toward you.
9.  Push the material down in the water and start from the beginning.
10.  Scrub each garment vigorously four to eight times.
11.  Dip into water, rinse, wring out water and put in next tub filled with warm rinse water.
12.  Rinse in second water, wring dry, and hang on clothesline.

C.  How to wash laundry by hand #3
If you are like me, you are always searching for ways to help the environment, get back to basics, and do things by hand. Well, washing your laundry by hand is a great way to start. This article can help you learn all of the different method you can use to wash your clothes by hand, and places to find the equipment you will need to get started.

Decide on how you are going to wash your clothes. Here are some of the way available.
You can use a simple basin and washboard. This method is cheap and effective. You simply apply the lye soap to the wet laundry, and scrub with a laundry brush against the washboard. You will probably need another basin with clean water to rinse your laundry.
Another option is to use a Rapid Washer. This is shaped like a plunger and used in about the same way. It really kicks out the dirt and grime.
If you really want to make a commitment to washing your clothes and laundry by hand, I would invest in a Lehman’s Hand Washer. It has a pivoting arm that really get the clothes clean, in only about 7 minutes per load! It is a more expensive option, but well worth it.
You will want to wring out your laundry before hanging it up to dry. This is a wringer, which can attach to your hand washer or to your basin. Simply wring the items of laundry through the wringer and it is ready to hang.
After your clothes are wrung out and ready to hang, you will want to put them up on a clothesline. You will also want to buy a lot of clothespins. String your line up between two trees, between your fence and your house, or on a free-standing unit.
Congratulations! You can now wash your clothes and laundry by hand!

D.  Laundry When the Wash Machine’s Out
This article will explain a couple of ways to do laundry when there is no wash machine handy. Why would we want to know this? There are several times in a survivalist’s life when he may find himself without a wash machine. The most common one would be while camping. We will look at this first.
I cannot claim to have discovered this technique, but I can tell you from experience that it works. I found it in one of “Ranger Rick” Tscherne’s Ranger Digests. For as long as I can remember, I’ve never packed more than one spare change of clothing in any backpack I’ve ever put up; whether it be for going to the field or as a BOB.  This is because I’ve always included two things that more than make up for the weight: a G.I. waterproof bag and a Ziploc full of laundry detergent. The waterproof bag has about two-dozen uses in the field, but in our case, we’re going to turn it into a hand-powered wash machine with agitating action.

1. Put one set of clothes-one shirt, one pair of trousers, a t-shirt, pair of socks and drawers-in the bag. To prolong the life of the bag, turn the pants inside out-if they’re BDUs, the metal take-up tabs on the sides will scratch the bag, and the buttons on blue jeans will do the same
2. Pour a quart (one canteen’s worth) of cold water into the bag, along with a mess-kit spoon’s worth of laundry soap. You can throw in a couple of SMOOTH river rocks if you have them, but this is not critical.
3. Close the bag up partway and squeeze most of the air out.
4. Finish closing the bag in the form of a “gooseneck” (instructions are printed on the side of the bag).
5. Squeeze, roll, mangle and toss the bag around for about five minutes. Really work the thing. You’ll hear it squish and squash. This is just what you want to happen.
6. Open the bag, wring out the clothes, pour in another quart of water, and repeat steps 1 through 5 until laundry is clean (may take two or three rinses).
7. Line-dry as you would normally. To get it to dry faster and avoid wrinkles, make sure your laundry is spread out as smoothly on the line as you can. I thread the line through the sleeves of BDU jackets and t-shirts; this seems to help.

Now suppose we’re at home, and there’s no power. Or, as was my case, suppose you find yourself “in between jobs” for a spell and really don’t want to waste money running the wash machine or going to the Laundromat? You still need clean clothes, as much from the standpoint of good morale as for hygiene’s sake (who wants to put on skuzzy old clothes after washing up?).

Anything you can throw in the wash machine can be hand washed. One of the best money-saving investments you can make is to go and buy an old-fashioned washboard and a drying rack. Washboards cost maybe $15.00 or so, last time I checked, and I bought a folding wood drying rack for about $5.00 at Wal-Mart. If you have a small, non-chain hardware store in your community, it’s a safe bet they’ll sell washboards. The Dollar Store may as well-you just might get lucky. Mine have paid for themselves many times over. If you have a large mop bucket, use it. Mop buckets use less water, and the washboard sits in there better than if you only use the bathtub.

Hand washing has one other advantage; namely, you can get really hard-to-clean clothes cleaner washing them by hand than any machine will do.
Start by “pre-treating” any really heavily soiled clothes. I work outdoors, and my blue jeans get filthy. No wash machine ever made has got the knees or the seam near the hems completely clean. Instead, I take a bristle brush and some cheap shampoo, dribble the latter on the problem area, and scrub the daylights out of it with the brush. They’ll fade more than in a washer, but that’s bound to happen anyway.
You can use the cheap shampoo trick right now, while you’re still using a wash machine. Just pre-treat stains and soils with some shampoo instead of the more expensive stuff, which is really only shampoo without the fragrance. It works wonders on grease and oils.

1.  To use a washboard, sit it in the bucket with about a gallon of water. Have a clean place to put clothes that have been washed-I use the bathtub. You can either use normal laundry soap or, if you really want to save money, use a bar of yellow Fels-Naptha brand soap. It’s a cake of soap that’s harder and slightly larger than normal bath soap bars. It costs around $2.00 or so and lasts for about seven or eight small loads of laundry.
2.  Take one piece of laundry, dunk it in the water, and lay it against the washboard. You don’t have to lay all of it against the washboard, just one part at a time. Rub the bar of soap against the clothing-it’ll be hard and will crumble a bit when it’s new or dry, but will be easier to work with after a while. Then just pretend you’re cleaning the washboard with the clothing. It’s a thing more easily done than described, but cleaning clothes like this is pretty intuitive, and you’ll get the hang of just how to do it in no time.
3.  You’ll also find that, after a while, the water gets pretty soapy, and that you may not need to rub the soap on the clothing at all. For clothes that aren’t soiled so much as “funky,” you may only need to squish them around in your hands for a while.
4.  After all your clothes have been washed, it’s time to rinse. This calls for a LOT of water, but the water doesn’t have to be drinkable, only clean. I’ve found that it usually takes two good rinsings to get the dirt and soap out. Wringing as much as possible out beforehand will save water.
Fill the bathtub with half of the water you intend to use (anywhere from three to six gallons is about right, depending on the size of the load). Swish and swirl the clothing around with your hands. You must make sure to get the soap out of the places you scrubbed it in, and this may take some elbow-grease. By the way, if you haven’t noticed, this is an awesome workout for the muscles of the hands, wrists and forearms!
5.  After you’re done rinsing, wring the clothes out and either line-dry them or hang them on a drying rack indoors. If you have a heat source, put the rack near it. An open window with a breeze wafting through will also help to dry things quicker. Remember again to lay things as flat as possible, or you’ll get wrinkles. Now it’s just a matter of time.

White bed linens, drawers and so forth should be bleached. What’s more, these articles can stand boiling water. Unless you have a huge cauldron on a wood-fire outside, you’ll just have to use the hottest water you can get. Linens and clothing used in caring for the sick should certainly be bleached and boiled if possible, but in any case bleached. Use household rubber gloves if you don’t want your hands looking and feeling like a concrete worker’s. If not directly soiled, whites can be swirled around in bleachy/soapy water in the tub with a wooden stick.

I’ve read one suggestion that has some merit to it, although I admit I’ve never tried it. A lady whom I hold in rather high regard made a sort of washer out of a 5-gallon bucket with lid, a plumber’s plunger and a ring washer similar to that used for protecting the wiring that goes through the firewall of a car. She bored a hole in the lid, fitted the washer through, and put the plunger inside. It looks like a butter churn would if they were made of plastic. As I said, I haven’t tried this, but there seems no reason why it shouldn’t work.

Woolens don’t necessarily need to be dry cleaned. Sweaters, blankets and such can be washed with Woolite, according to the instructions on the bottle. They should not be wrung or twisted, but rather laid flat and dried. It’ll take a good long while, but that’s what you pay to get wool’s other benefits.
One final tip. If you use Fels-Naptha soap, make sure to put it in a soap dish or something that’ll let it dry out. If you let it stay soggy, it’ll turn to mush and you’ll end up wasting most of it.
Washing things by hand is pretty simple, and it’s also really inexpensive. It also gets clothes cleaner than they would if you’d washed them in a machine. Trouble is, it’s awfully hard work. You can now see why people had so few clothes in the past.

eAudrey’s Luxuriant Soap and Crafts

 1.  Rendering Tallow
•   3-5 lbs. suet or other meat fat
•   water
•   2-4 Tbls. salt
•   sharp knife
•    large pot
•   long handled wooden spoon
•   safety goggles
•   rubber gloves
•   wood or stainless ladle
•   colander
•   primary mold

__1)  Cut or grind the suet into the smallest pieces possible. This will make it melt more easily.
__2)  Place ground suet into a pot. Make sure there is room for expansion as it heats.
__3)  Add 3 inches of water to pot. At this point, add the salt.
__4)  Set mixture over medium high heat and put on safety gear.
__5)  Stir mixture as it heats. Melt the suet into as much liquid as possible.
__6)  Allow a slow boil only. Mash the small pieces with the spoon. This could take up to two hours, depending on how much fat and how small the pieces.
__7)  Once the suet is liquefied, remove from heat. Pour or ladle it into a sieve or colander to remove any meat, sinew, or gristle. Mix the strained solids with peanut butter and put out for the birds.
__8)  Fill your primary mold with the strained mixture and refrigerate overnight.
__9)  Remove mold from fridge and turn upside down in the sink. Allow any extra water to drain away.
__10)  You now have a block of tallow. Refrigerate or freeze until you are ready to make a batch of basic soap.

2.  Basic Soap Instructions
__1)   Read directions for recipe to make sure you have the required ingredients and gear.
__2)  Use safety gloves and goggles or eyeglasses.
 __3)  Weigh the required amount of water (distilled is best) into one of the pitchers. To do this place an empty pitcher on the scale and set to zero. Now measure the amount of water.
__4)  Using the same method as above weigh the lye needed in the second pitcher.
__5)  Carefully pour the lye into the pitcher containing the water. You must avoid splashing-this is the most dangerous step! Never add the water to the lye.
__6)  Stir solution gently with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Make sure you have sufficient ventilation. Resist the temptation to lean over the pitcher to get a good look. You do not want to breathe anywhere near this container.
__7)  While the lye is cooling, melt the fats. The temperature of both must eventually be brought to 100 degrees simultaneously. If the lye solution cools too much, put the pitcher in a pan or bowl of hot water.
__8)  Double-check the temperatures of the lye and fat solutions to be sure they are 100-110 degrees (equal temperature is desired).
__9)  While stirring the fats, pour the lye solution into the melted fat/oil in a thin stream. Stir continuously to ensure the lye mixes into the fat.
__10)  Continue stirring in a carefully manner to avoid splashing. The mixture should start thickening. You will eventually see “trailings” or lines on the surface. This could take 20 minutes to an hour, usually closer to one hour. Be careful using hand mixers as they can speed things up too much.
 __11)  Pour this liquid soap into your large plastic container mold. Put the lid on and wrap with the towel.
__12)  Put the wrapped mold in a warm place and allow to set for 48 hours.
__13)  After 48 hours, unwrap the mold. The soap should still be warm. If the surface is still very soft leave lid off for a day. If soap looks abnormal refer to Troubleshooting or keyboard shortcut Alt-t. When it is as firm it is ready to be removed from the mold.
__14)  Remove soap from mold. To do this, first pull the plastic mold away from the soap on all sides. Then, turn the mold over onto the needle point screen or plastic. If it doesn’t fall out of the mold, push down on the upside down mold and it should pop out. You should have a nice clean block of soap ready to be cut into bars.
__15)  First, score the surface where the cuts will be made. Then, warm the knife to be used in water. Dry the knife and cut the block into bars of soap.
__16)  The hand cut bars still need to cure. They will become lighter in weight and slightly smaller. Place them on the plastic needlepoint screen for about three weeks.
Check your local hardware store – Depending on the regulations where you live, some hardware stores may sell 100% sodium hydroxide as a drain cleaner, or ‘Red Devil’ Lye drain cleaner.
Discontinued mfg. Amazon.com, 1 lb, ~$11.00 inc S&H. Amazon.com, 1 lb, $10.09 inc S&H. Amazon.com, 2 lbs, $19.95 inc S&H.


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