I wrote the following as an entry in my old blog (completely unrelated to crafting) over a year ago. I revisited the idea last night and got my bathtub laundry on. I can't believe it's only been a year since I wrote this post. It feels like decades since I moved to STL to live with one of my best friends in the world. I have a washer and dryer now, and live in Oregon... but after becoming overwhelmed that my comforter wouldn't fit in the washer, I had to figure something out... that's when it hit me: I love bathtub laundry! So please enjoy this little blast from my past (just like I did last night). I'll meet you at the bottom with some more insight from the present.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I watch documentaries every day. I am constantly searching to increase my
knowledge and expand my world views. I have recently become attached to
environmental documentaries because, realistically, we don't have much time left
until everyone has to get real about the environment.
I have just moved to a new city and I don't have a washer and dryer in
my apartment like I have for the last 6 years that I've lived on my own.
While I have used laundromats before, I'm sorry if sitting in a St.
Louis laundromat alone all day does not sound like the safest or most
entertaining way to spend my day. Naturally laundry has piled up and I
just don't have $3.50 a load to spend washing it all.
I was watching one documentary the other day called No Impact Man: The
Documentary. I highly recommend it. One tiny little moment in the movie involves
them doing laundry in the bathtub. I watched it two weeks ago, and it has
remained on my mind since then. I finally decided to do some research and make
it happen. There are about a bagillion different ways to do this posted online,
and I feel like I've read them all. I have tried a handful of the techniques and
cast some out without trying them at all. What follows is what I have devised as
the best method to achieve the following goals that I had for doing bathtub
1. Can be done with only things I have in my apartment.
no more time to wash than a washing machine would.
3. Is not a completely
4. Make a significantly lower environmental impact than
standard washing machines... just because I can.
Now, I want to establish
that the temperature of water I use is based on the materials I'm washing. I use
the coolest temperature that can be used but still achieve my cleaning goals.
The amount of water I use is based on the size of the
*Plastic Storage Tub (I use an 18 Gal.)
Bathroom CD player and
album "The Sign" by Ace of Base
Step One: Wash
Place the plastic tub
in the bathtub. Put a bit of water (no less than 1/4 of the way full, no more
than 1/2) and then add detergent. Use much less than you think you'll need. Some
places I read said to use half what you would use in the washer, but I found
even that was too much. You're wasting far less water and detergent. You will
really be surprised at how little it takes to have fresh smelling (and feeling)
clothes. Judge based on the amount of clothing and the dirtiness.
detergent has been added, stir it in a bit with your hand, just so it's not in a
glob. Add clothing. Add the remainder of your water, ensuring that the clothes
are good and covered. Some websites recommend filling to the top, but I would
only do that with a full laundry basket worth of clothes. just make sure they
can be covered by at least 2".
At this point, I like to push everything
down and make sure the detergent water has saturated all items. Soak all items
for 15-25 minutes. Never soak for longer than 30 minutes because the detergent
will begin to break down and damage the fabric and color. When to add bleach? I
only do so in my warm whites, which soak for 25 minutes (the longest I soak). I
add the bleach 10 minutes before agitation.
This is my favorite part. I
kick on my Ace of Base CD and step into the tub. Using a mix of Lucille Ball's
moves in the grape-stomping episode of I Love Lucy and Usher's 2010 VMA
performance (just sayin'... you should probably youtube it to see the
appropriate cleaning methods). The agitation should last 10-15 minutes (or the
first 3-4 songs on your chosen CD). You could use your hands to agitate, and I
even read of using a NEVER BEFORE USED plunger, but I like the free workout and
my back would not appreciate being bent over that long.
At this point,
empty the tub of dirty water. I like to squeeze all the water out of the clothes
and dump that too. On to step two!
Step Two: The Rinse
clothes in the bottom of the tub, fill with just enough water to cover clothing,
as cool as you can stand it. Get moving! Agitate again for 3-5 minutes (or one
song) and pour out dirty water. Repeat 2 more times. When the water in the tub
is no longer getting dingy, you're clean. If your water is still dirty, consider
doing small portions of the clothes in the rise tubs. You used too much
detergent. It's okay, just keep rinsing (even use running water if necessary)
because while your environmental impact is going up, you have to get that
detergent out or it can deteriorate and damage your clothing.
Squeeze out as much water as possible, then hang the items to dry.
Using plastic hangers (wire hangers will rust and cause me to scream "no wire
hangers! EVER!") or a dry rack, hang the wet clothing. I use hangers hung on my
shower curtain rod.
When they're dry, you've succeeded.
Here are some helpful tips I discovered and read about
along the way:
-I use the storage tub to reduce the amount of water I use,
but for bulky items such as jeans, towels, and sheets, using the entire bathtub
is more reasonable.
--Do towels last so that you can use your dirty towels to
cover the "splash zone" in case you get too much Lucy action and not enough
Usher. I like to leave them under the clothing that's hanging to prevent water
from dripping on the floor then as well.
---I have read of using a fan in the
bathroom to hasten dry time. I'm patient, and just let them hang overnight.
(although, for folded over pants or jeans, I do flip them right before
----To knock out the stiff hanger feel, I go over clothes with a
blow dryer for just moments to warm them and make them more malleable.
read that to shrink denim back to it's correct shape, you should soak in VERY
HOT water for 5 minutes after your rinse is complete, before hanging. I didn't
find this until after I had done my jeans though, so I'll try it out next
Best of luck if you choose to try this out yourselves. I would love
to hear your questions, comments, or experiences.
Back to the present: Now since I do have a washer and dryer in my current home, I decided to just toss the comforter in the dryer. I did not feel like dealing with hanging a sopping wet comforter over some furniture, so that's just that. This was one of my favorite posts that I wrote on the old blog. What do you think? I may have to get back into doing the occasional load this way. I am constantly running across recipes to make your own detergent on blogs, which would be another great way to minimize chemical pollution and waste. So there it is, the return of bathtub laundry.
<3 Clean Stephanie