Hand Washing

Hi all. I was asked about my adventures in hand washing and to share it all with you. I have to say I am still very proud of it. As a member of the “first world” we enjoy convienences like washing machines and dryers, even if we don’t own these most still have access to their bath tubs and running water. So in an effort to explain why I chose to hand wash the way I did I will ask you to bare with me and my little rabbit trail of thoughts…

Our washer started leaking, and leaving grey splashes on things put in for wash that don’t come out. This is frustrating at best and devistating at worst, especially when you have worked long and hard to emass what I consider an epic WAHM stash of cloth diapers, many that I worked hard to make myself. So I began to think of ways to wash our diapers without ruining them. So I went old school. I pulled out all my prefolds and receiving blankets that I hadn’t used in so long and started adding to my cover collection. Then I began thinking of how to hand wash when the leaking washer started to warp the floor in our laundry room. The image that sprang to mind was that of a woman in old fashioned clothing bending over a wash board by the river dunking hands into icy water… Wait, icy water won’t clean diapers! OK, lets think about this, how does my washing machine work? Its a top loader, so it fills with hot water and my dertergent then swishes around and around then drains, spins, and rinses…. OK, I can do that in my bath tub!

So I did. I had already been hand rinsing all of my diapers before washing to avoid that pesky extra rinse before the wash, so I kept doing it, then I soaked them in hot water and drained, wrung them all out then filled the empty tub with hot water and tossed in my detergent. I swished it around until it desolved. Then I put my diaper laundry in again making sure to have them all open up, since I had already removed all traces of poop when hand rinsed (and scrubbed) those there wasn’t much left for me to do besides sit on my knees in my laundry day best and play in the water like a small child! I swished this way and that, made whirl pools, played agitater and rubbed diapers together. I pretended to be a washing machine for the normal time my washer does the work (about 30 mins) then I drained the tub and began rinsing. This was by far the most time consuming part for me. I piled them all up next to the drain and dove in, going from the smallest parts, our cloth wipes, then the microfiber (flips stay dry-wrapped in a receiving blanket with a thirsties gusset cover is our night time routine) to the diaper covers, to prefolds, and last to the recieving blankets, taking time to rinse each one completely, then wring it out and place it at the back of the tub where it would get wet again with the constant running water.

Now came figuring out how to dry these guys, once wrung out really well, and repeatedly, I could have tossed them in our dryer (not the covers) but I chose to go all the way. I tossed them in my laundry basket and took them out to our laundry line that I had rigged up for sunning (laying wet stained diapers in the sun to naturally bleach them) and started wringing them out again for the excess water, and oh my was there still! After I wrung out a piece I would pin it up, once I was done I was so proud of myself. I had hand washed and line dried 2 days worth of diapers BY MYSELF!

Now I know many of you are thinking “Lady, buy a new washing machine!” We are going to, but those cost quite a bit and as a family with only one income it may take awhile, so until we can get a new one I hand wash our diapers, thats one less load every other day that is ruining our bathroom floor. You might also be thinking that I cheat and machine wash, and you’d be right. There are those days that I just am too tired, or busy, to play in the water and hand wash.  Those day I do the easy, if not best for my floor, thing and toss a towel on the floor and run the washer.

Happy Handwashing to all! I know there are ways to do this that don’t require running water, such as wash tubs and water heated over fires. It can be done, it was done before now, and is still done every day in third world countries, so even if your washer isn’t broke, give it a try, its an adventure and something to be proud of having accomplished!


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