Hand washing clothes to save money - any tips?

We live in an apartment complex that has a laundry room - one small washer and one small dryer. By small, I mean miniscule. Like most places, these eat quarters by the handful to get the laundry done. It’s $1.25 per wash, $1.25 per dry. With all the separating the whites, darks, colours, etc, this can really add up. I know we’ve got it pretty good - at our last place, it was $1.50 per wash, and per dry.

Anyway, after buying another roll of quarters from the grocery store, I finally started wondering if it would be easier to hand wash the laundry, and maybe just use the dryer when we needed it. There’s not really any good place to hang our clothes to drip dry in the apartment, but if we could cut our laundry prices in half, well, shit, why not?

I started today, running the hottest water I could stand into the bathtub, dumping in the regular amount of laundry detergent, then heaving the laundry into the water. Instinct dictated I should probably move it around a bit. So I hunkered down and began to “knead” the laundry, keeping at it for a good ten minutes. Wow. I could see the clothes getting clean, and the water getting yucky. Then I drained the tub, rinsed each article of clothing off under running water (to get any soap left in them out), wrung them out, and threw them in the dryer. Hooray! I think I just saved some money. They smelled just as nice as if I’d taken them out of the washer - we’ll see how it goes when I pull them out of the dryer in an hour.

Anyway, I got thinking, maybe if I used some rubber gloves, I could bleach my whites? We’ve been getting less picky about what gets thrown in with the laundry because of how much it costs, but cripes, now I could probably keep my whites their whitest and my darks their darkest a little better.

Does anyone else do this? Do you have any handy little tips, or things you think I should know for hand washing clothing? What about my hands - will this dry them out badly? Stick to my regular women’s mantra of “moisturise, moisturise, moisturise”? Anything I should be careful of, or look out for?

My mom used to presoak whites in bleach and water in big bucket, but I don’t know why the bathtub wouldn’t work. She used a broom handle to move them around.

Yes, you should definitely be wearing gloves.

Use your feet to agitate, but carefully. Don’t fall down.

Easier on the back.

What you really want is to pick up a copy of Cheryl Mendelson’s Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House. It’s a great all around home reference book, but it has a lengthy section on laundry and goes into great detail on handwashing, both for delicates and for everything else.

Just for the time saved alone, wouldn’t it be worth it to go to a regular laundromat, to wash all your loads at once? (Plus: they have the large dryers, which would be more economical to use. You might be able to dry three loads at once in those machines, for approx. $2.

Or you could do it at a friend’s house, but do housework or other favors/chores to offset it.

I have all the time in the world on my hands. We used to take our clothes to the laundromat, but it was costing just as much, and sometimes more, than bringing them downstairs. We sometimes take our clothes to my FILs house, too, but it’s more convenient to do it here. Also, his basement just flooded.

Besides, money-saving, energy-saving, what’s not to like? Time ain’t no thing for me, all I have is time. I don’t work, we have no children. Also, I kind of like hand washing my clothes. I can see them getting clean, I can see what needs more attention, if a delicate gets thrown in by accident, hey - I’ve got it covered.

Thanks for the book recommendation, Zsofia, I will definitely check that out.

If I were you, I’d wash the clothes with the washing machine and hang everything to dry. You’d still save half the cleaning costs but it’s much easier to hang things to dry than it is to wash them in a tub.

Nowhere to hang them, otherwise I’d be doing that, as well. By nowhere, I mean nowhere.

Have I mentioned I actually enjoyed washing them in the tub? :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, if you enjoyed it, good for you. However, I can’t help but think that this uses a good amount more water per clothing article than the washing machine. Not such a big problem, unless you pay for your water.

Any interest in one of these? You could do a load every two or three days to stay current with the dirty laundry.

Haaaaaaay, now, what’s that thing?! Have you ever used one? Or know anyone who has? That thing looks cool.

As for how much water I use… I honestly don’t know. I don’t fill it up, and use just enough to get the clothes wet, then I “agitate” them myself, then rinse, which doesn’t take very long. But I couldn’t tell you if I was saving water or using more of it. I know I use more when I take baths. I’m a pretty big water waster, laundry aside. :frowning:

After browsing around a little bit, I found this spin dryer - has anyone had any experience with these? The top dryer says it can be used as a standalone or with a tumble dryer - do the clothes come out wet?

Just curious, since the washing thing isn’t much of a problem, but if we could get a ventless dryer in this wee place, that would be all right. All the ventless ones I saw were washer/dryer combos, and we don’t really have anywhere to hook it up, plumbing-wise - I don’t believe we do, anyway. Plus, they are quite expensive, and we’re not that hard pressed to change our laundry habits. We were just looking to save a few quarters, if we could. :wink: We’ll be moving out sometime in the next couple of years, and then we’ll have big, regular appliances. Until then, we’re just looking for some cheap, short term ideas.

I once lived in an apartment above a laundromat that was even more expensive than yours, so I started washing my clothes in the tub too. It was strangely pleasureable – made you feel like you were actually accomplishing something, especially when you saw how murky the water could get. (Though I was never completely sure if the water got murky because of dirt coming off the clothes, dye coming off the cloth, or something else all together.)

The downside I found is that I was unable to wring as much water out of the clothes as a good turn in the spin cycle would have, and consequently I had to pay extra to put them in for an extra long spin in the dryer. (I don’t mind washing my clothes by hand, but I hate air-drying them. Unless I have a sunny hill-top in a field with a warm breeze to dry them, I’ll always machine dry my clothes if possible. Another time I lived in an apartment with a washer but no dryer – there were clothes hanging from every nook and cranny imaginable. I hate the feeling of putting on air-dryed clothes.)

The other benefit of washing your clothes in the tub is that it keeps the tub clean. :slight_smile:

Just a thought:

What about finding one of those salad spinners to spin the wet out of undies and socks? Might work on t-shirts as well. I always see salad spinners at the Salvation Army. Might me worth the two bucks or so to buy one and give it a spin.

Jeans could be roll dried in a towel before going into the dryer.

Do you have any place in your place for a hanging gizmo? Even by a window during the day? There are loads of options (permanent and folding) out there now a days.

I hung dry laundry for 9 years ( voluntarily) with a cube I made from PVC piping. I took it down in the winter and set it up again in the spring. I hung dry every thing on hangers. I am thinking of going back to hanging laundry again, as I cannot stand folding laundry. AIGGHHHHH!
You don’t have to wash your laundry in hot water. Cold is just fine. Hot water causes many materials ( elastic in your underwear and bra, as a BIG example) to stretch and deteriorate. Hot also causes color fading.

As for bleaching, I would say bleach in the tub while you are at work. Might be a bit of a challenge to figure out the bleach to water ratio so you don’t ruin the material’s structural integrity. ( My mom did this a couple of times. Too much bleach and I put my foot through all my white socks she was whitening. Somehow, it was all my fault.)

YAY for you not being afraid to hand wash stuff and going back to basics like that!

I love handwashing dishes. But I depise unloading the dishwasher. Explain.

Actually, I’ve been surfing around, and I was surprised at the options I found. I may yet be able to get one of those cool little do-hickeys with the dowels and all that stuff in here… move the kitty condo near the front window - sorry kitties - and there should be plenty of room. Of course, that will just be begging to have a warm kitty curled up on it somewhere. Nothing new there, anyway. They already crawl in and hide in the fresh laundry. Maybe wet laundry will deter them for a change.

Thanks for the tips - I think I’ll do cold water next time. I’ve also made the mistake of too much bleach in the regular wash as a teenager… I got yelled at by my mom for sticking my foot through my socks, too, but it really was my fault. :smack:

My husband has a raging hard on for that spin-dry dealie. He figures for $120, we’ve got nothing to lose, really. Even if all it does is yank most of the water out of our clothes, I could then hang them on the dowel thingamajig (if you haven’t noticed, my laundry terminology is seriously lacking) to finish off.

I’m liking the way this is fleshing out. I just wanted to save a little coinage, but I’m kind of having fun. :smiley:

Anastaseon - Look at this. I’ve used these, and although not as convenient as a real washing machine, but it does a good job and doesn’t take up much space. As for drying, I have a heated towel bar that I use for drying things I don’t want to shrink.


Another form of cheap washing machine would be to take a 5 gallon bucket with a lid on it and put water, detergent and clothing in. Put in trunk of car and drive to and fro for errands/work. Dump water in parking lot, transfer to another 5 gallon bucket with clean water for rinsing, the dump and drag clothes upstairs to squeegee out with your husband’s raging hard on laundry squeezer ( Cause I wants one of those too, but I don’t know what they are called to even google them properly.) and then hang dry.

We did this alot when I was a kid on family vacations. ( You can even dry your underpants by squincing them in the inside of your car windows and driving about town. Yes…My mom did that on vacation. yes, I was mortified.)

I love being frugal.

The reason why I subscribe to the Dope has been answered, yet again.

They are called Wringer Washer(s) . I have been looking for one for eons.
Not that I have a place to put one.

But I still wants one.

This reminds me of **The Accidental Tourist ** where after his wife leaves/dies? he decides to combine showering with laundry, and tromps up and down on his sheets as he showers. I can just see my father (a terribly frugal efficient man) doing this should my mom even not be around anymore.

You could just buy a new one.



Check around on pricing on the WonderWasher. I’ve seen it in most of the multiple catalogs that arrive here for at least $10 less.

Good luck!