Laundry. A necessary evil?
Maybe for some. I look at laundry as an art form. I love crisp folded jeans and sheets. Properly folded towels. I even roll our socks and rubber-band them. I learned this last bit from Marie Kondo’s book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. This is a superb book for those that really want to declutter. I mean REALLY clear things out. This is not me. I don’t mind things, it’s just when it comes to storing these things… I want it to look nice. In an artful way of course.
Before the invention of the washing machine, laundry was often done in a communal setting in waterways, letting the water carry away the materials which could cause stains and smells. Agitation helps remove the dirt, so the laundry was often rubbed, twisted, or slapped against flat rocks.
I’ve always had an… ummm… curious way to look at things. I mean, if I actually consider something boring and mundane there’s not much of a chance I’ll get any joy out of it. Did you listen, when you were a kid, to your elders saying LIFE IS SHORT, Be HAPPY and other such wisdom’s? I did.
Chores have to be done, so long ago I changed my mind about them. It was easy to grinch and groan about doing them OR I could find the art in them. Is scrubbing a toilet an art form? Ok, that may be stretching it but once I change my mind – it’s changed. Even for toilet scrubbing. So I looked for the joy in doing these drudgeries. Old wringer washers have always made me smile and one day I was lucky enough to find Ol’ Maybelle here for a whopping $50! She was being used as a flower pot *GASP* and I saved her. I find joy in just looking at her!
I adore Maybelle. I’m a weirdo. She’s a work horse…here’s her capabilities:
- She turns on. I fill her with water, as much or little as I like. By today’s standards, I suppose that could be considered infinite water levels.
- She washes. Boy does she wash! When I think the clothes is done, I turn her off.
- She cleans. Weird.
No motherboard to replace. No half wet/half dry clothing (some of you know what I’m talking about. These new washers…sheesh!). Nope, no new-fangled, push button, tech savvy front loader for me. Just a washer that twists the heck out of your clothes so they are actually clean.
This is a video of our actual machine after I finished pulling and repairing the motor. Now I just have to repair the wringer and Maybelle will be perfect!
My mom Gigi owned a front loading washer and didn’t like it a bit. This acorn didn’t fall far from the tree! Oh, did I mention I don’t like dryers? I don’t. Dryers just seem to shrink the waistline of my jeans – it must be the dryers… right?!! It shortens the sleeves of Mr. Bluejeans shirts and my unmentionables come out… well I don’t even want to mention it! Nope, no dryers at 5 Dog Farm either!
So let’s recap. Vintage wringer washer, AND no dryer. What the what?! How the heck? Well, I’ll tell you. LINE DRYING! Once you’ve line dried your sheets, shirts and yes even jeans, it’s hard to go back. Well, for me anyway. I line dried clothing even when I had a full time work-a-day world job. I guess I found the art in it at an early age. And I do have a tendency to like free things! Want more? The sun is a “natural sanitizer”, so if you dry your clothes under the sun, they will smell cleaner and fresher! The suns UV light can damage the DNA of bacteria and microorganisms, which means it can kill or stop their reproduction! It will whiten your whites (yes, also your colors but in my dryer days that happened too). No static cling! No need to stop and start your “dryer” just check the clothes! Your clothes are hanging so no need to rush to check if the dryer stopped AND no wrinkles if they are left on the line!
Of course there’s my favorite homemade detergent too (see recipe below). We have a few sensitive skinned souls on the farm and perfumes and dyes will send their skin into fits of redness and bumps a-plenty. I love making our own detergent and it lasts quite some time! For those that find sun dried items scratchy use white vinegar in your rinse. Done and done.
We have so many gifts in our world and we’ve walked away from many of them. The sun is a great free source plus being outside either hanging or removing our clothes from the line is – dare I say it:
Not to mention carrying a basket of laundry in or out is a good workout. SCORE!
What about winter you ask? Our little abode will have a woodstove and just as in the days of yore (been dying to say that) we will hang our laundry in the kitchen on a rack like the ones pictured. It’s a Victorian pulley drying rack and I certainly can see the art in that little piece of equipment.
Can you see the art in any of this? No, it’s not Picasso or Monet, it’s more like refrigerator art from your child or grandchild. It’s beautiful and proudly hung.
Just like my laundry.
Make a whopping 5 to 10 gallons of laundry detergent for very little effort or money!
Grate entire bar of Fels Naptha soap.
Using medium high heat add the grated soap to a large saucepan with 4 cups of water. Heat until soap has melted but do not boil. Stir (I use a wooden spoon) until all the soap has melted. I have found that using a fine grater helps the soap to melt quicker.
Fill your 5 gallon bucket half way with hot water. I use our water kettle to fill the remaining hot water into the bucket. Add the saucepan of melted bar soap to the bucket.
Add in the Borax and Washing soda to the bucket and stir.
If you choose to add an essential oil now is the time to add it.
Now fill bucket to the top with warm water and stir. If you don't have a stick long enough (a yardstick or wood dowel would work) put on some long dish gloves and give it a stir with your hands.
Place a lid or towel on top and let the mixture gel up. It will be gloppy not a full "Jello" set. Kind of lumpy. Perfect!
You have the option of diluting this recipe further by pouring half of the prepared 5 gallon bucket o'gel into the other empty 5 gallon bucket, then filling both to the top with water OR just use the original 5 gallon bucket of undiluted gel you made. I opt to use the 10 gallon method because we don't get our clothes that dirty or stained.
There you have it. Quick and easy!
Do you have a chore that you look forward to doing?