Maven Moment: Doing Laundry by Hand

laundry basked filled with laundry

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Laundromats in my area have closed amid concerns about coronavirus. Now, I’m presented with a new problem. I don’t have a washing machine, I’ve always relied on laundromats. So, how do I launder my clothes and house linens?

Often when faced with a challenge, I think back to my childhood in Brooklyn. When I was little, my grandma didn’t have a washer or drier. Although she could have used my mom’s washer or the laundromat at the corner, Grandma wanted no part of that. She did her laundry by hand with a washboard in her big double sink. Like my mom, who didn’t have a drier, Grandma dried her laundry on the clothesline in nice weather or inside in bad weather.

Although I am in awe of the strength it took to hand wash and ring out large items like sheets and towels, that kind of work is not for me!

My solution is to hand wash a few items at a time and let them dry on my big drying rack. If I place it by an open window when it’s sunny and breezy, items dry in less than a day. And as it is still early spring, I do get a little heat from the radiators, so I use that for drying the pants I wear to work. I feel good that I’m using a lot less electricity than a washer and dryer would use.

By washing blouses and pants made of lightweight fabrics, I have clean clothes to wear for work. I’m avoiding jeans and cotton shirts that are harder to wash by hand and take a lot longer to dry.

I still have a change of clean sheets and blankets, but to help them stay fresh as long as possible, I’m airing my linens. I open my bedroom windows and put my blanket on the clothes horse to air out. By leaving my pillows in the sunshine and keeping the covers turned down on the bed, my bed linens seem nice and fresh by evening, no washer or dryer needed.

Although washing laundry by hand works for me, I realize it would be much harder if I had a large family. It occurred to me that this might be a good opportunity for bartering with a neighbor who has a washer. Perhaps I could do the shopping or run errands for them in exchange for use of their washer.

Although I definitely don’t want to do the laundry by hand forever, by it feels good to be self-reliant. And as a bonus, I’m using a lot less electricity and water than a washer and dryer would use to do the job.

Feature image: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Joanna Lacey
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