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Garden Laundry - where I take the wringer washing machine out into the garden

 
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I've been learning how to use a vintage wringer washing machine.



The goals:
1. reduce water use when doing laundry
2. reduce electrical use when doing laundry
3. water the garden (at this early stage of water rationing, I can only afford to use reclaimed or greywater on the garden)
4. make clothes clean

To be honest, I didn't think I would be able to do it.  We have a pretty fancy, front-loading washing machine inside, chosen for its hyper-efficiency in water and electrical conservation.  

I think I've managed to achieve 1, 3, and 4 on my list (for more details, I made a blog post )

I possibly achieved #2 as the wringer machine has a very simple moter and no fancy electronics.  It only has to run for a few minutes per load, as most of the cleaning time is done with soaking stages.  I hooked it up to a Powerbar so it has an on/off switch to make sure it's not using power when inactive.  I'm using cold water instead of warm.  And I'm reusing the water several times (other than cooking, laundry, and computers, the well is a big user of electricity in the house).

The downside, more human interaction and monitoring.  
The upside, I get to be in my garden while monitoring and interacting with laundry at the different steps gives me a better understanding of how clothes get clean.

I'm going to keep on experimenting and researching old household manuals for tips and tricks.  So far, I'm working off of family lore and what makes sense from my understanding of how things get clean.

My garden is very happy with my experiments.  
 
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Nice! My granny had one of those in her basement. As a kid I always thought it was pretty cool.
 
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This is very cool!  I was just looking into how to wash clothes by hand and I'd never seen this contraption.  
 
r ranson
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It is pretty cool.

Only I'm in the sun while using it today so I got pretty hot.
I'm going to put one of those 10x10 tents over it so I can work in the shade and not have to put the machine away each evening.  It's a beast to transport across the yard to the shed.

A couple of things I want to do is to find out the aprox age of the machine.  Looking at the construction and the quality of the chrome, I'm tempted to say early 1950s.  There were chrome shortages after the war and in 1948, so some of the years around then had issues as the chrome aged.  I haven't investigated the moter or anything except to find out if it is safe to use and if it works.  So there's something to look forward to.

Once I figure out the age, I'm going to hunt for a manual and if possible, a repair guide.  There are a few things I want to tune-up, but don't want to start taking it apart until I've done some reading.  
 
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Just how badly will it date me if I admit I used one of those in University - it's what my landlord had and rent was freaky cheap.

I dimly recall that I'd wash the cleanest clothes first, then stick in dirtier clothes, ending with the dirtiest things last. Then I filled the tub for the rinse cycle and stick the clothes back in in the same order, again a few at a time.

Warning - Thick fancy buttons and the "wringer" part do NOT play nice together!

Actually, Hubby has 2 old machines for "parts" and I really wish he wasn't too busy to make one good one out of the parts, that could live up-hill of the veggie garden. The first plants there are a ginormous trio of Kiwi Vines who would suck up dirty water and turn it into nice fruit.

We are also on a well and we try to mix the wash-water 50-50 well and rain as the well is hard water and the rain is softer.
 
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I grew up with one in the house.  My wife and I still consider getting one.
 
r ranson
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I've been very interested in the wringer.  There seems to be different settings for different thicknesses.  

The platans on this one are a bit squishy, so I am imagining if the shirt was turned inside out and folded so the buttons are between the cloth layers, it might be kind.  But I wouldn't want to use something fragile like shell buttons.  I see why old household manuals suggest butting the shirt and turning it inside out for laundry.  

There's no safety on the mangle to stop the fingers going in there.  This makes me terribly nervous!

What I'm really interested in is how kind is it to different fabric and seams.  The saying in the family is "these new machines are so much kinder to clothing".  But is there a difference?  And what about different seam finishes?  From what I remember of history, these machines would be used during a time when garments either had an enclosed seam, were finished by hand sewing, or had a pinking sheer edge.  But also the fabrics were different.  Synthetics were just starting, there were fewer knit fabrics, and the woven cloth would have been tightly woven and well finished - so they would be unlikely to shrink when agitated in the wash.


 
Jay Angler
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r ranson wrote:

There's no safety on the mangle to stop the fingers going in there.  This makes me terribly nervous!

Most adults will be safe if they watch what they're doing, but I have a cousin with a scar on her arm from sticking her hand in when she was a toddler. I recall that some of the "newer" models had some sort of auto-release if the pressure was greater than the release was set for, but we're talking *really* old info here. I do believe there may still be one in my in-law's basement in Ontario, as Hubby's not cleared out the place, instead renting it to a friend. I can imagine good uses for the mangle if it wasn't 4 provinces away!
 
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We had a family friend, who had one, when I was a kid. I've always thought they were super cool! (And I've been looking for a used, non-electric one, for years!)
 
Jay Angler
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r ranson wrote:

What I'm really interested in is how kind is it to different fabric and seams.  The saying in the family is "these new machines are so much kinder to clothing".  But is there a difference?  

Personally, what's kinder to clothes is *not* washing them until they're dirty (I know people who will wash their pants and bath towels after every use - underwear, yes, but pants get warn several days to a week, and bath towels are being used on me when I'm clean!) Also, avoiding a dryer at all costs in favor of a rack or clothesline will make clothing last much longer. I'm personally suspicious that many of these "attitudes" about "whiter than white" is about selling more detergent and more clothing. The clothing industry does not want clothing to last a long time. We're going to fix that!
 
Carla Burke
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A washing machine repairman once told me to only use 1/3 - 1/2 the amount of laundry soap recommended, too. He said more than that is not only unnecessary, but speeds deterioration of the washer and your clothes, by about the same difference. So, if you are using 1C, when you should only be using 1/2C, then your clothes and machine are likely to deteriorate twice as fast as they normally would. I can vouch for my clothes lasting a lot longer, since I decided to test his advice, though it might be hard to determine what would constitute 'twice as fast', precisely. But, he did also mention that using lower temps in the dryer help, too. I've lived in a few places where hanging to dry was not an option, but I still tried to dry on the lowest heat setting.
 
r ranson
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great advise.
With our water, using more than 1/4 the recommended dose is asking for trouble.

Like any soap or detergent, the more you use, the more effort it takes to rinse it off.
 
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I definitely like the idea of doing laundry in the garden!

We added an outdoor laundry facility when we fixed and expanded our carport. I confess I haven't used it yet, but my husband has done some laundry in it several times.



Dan put some hose bibs in the tubs to be able to use a hose to make good use of the greywater.



Like so many other things, my laundry routine is out of habit, which means using my washing machine. I need to start changing that. Raven, thank you for sharing this. It's a nudge in the right direction for me!



 
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The outstanding memory of ours is that my mother was told that it could shell peas.  She blanched the pea pods and then passed them to me and I ran them through the wringer. The peas popped out of the pods and rolled  back into a tub and the pods into a tub on the other side.
 
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Hans Quistorff wrote:The outstanding memory of ours is that my mother was told that it could shell peas.  She blanched the pea pods and then passed them to me and I ran them through the wringer. The peas popped out of the pods and rolled  back into a tub and the pods into a tub on the other side.

Wow, stacking functions. I wonder if that would work with Broad Beans.
 
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Carla Burke wrote:A washing machine repairman once told me to only use 1/3 - 1/2 the amount of laundry soap recommended, too. He said more than that is not only unnecessary, but speeds deterioration of the washer and your clothes, by about the same difference.



That's because most people never bother checking to see what the recommended amount of detergent is in the first place.  Whatever "measuring cap" comes with it gets filled, and often then some, for each wash.
Usually that's triple the recommended amount.  When I was in college back in the 80's, my lab instructor for organic chemistry was a former chemist for Proctor and Gamble.  Nice guy and we were often chit-chatting. This was one of his pet peeves. He assured us that using extra detergent not only didn't get clothes cleaner but made them dirtier from residue.  His professional advice was that it's better to use less detergent and more time.  Time spent soaking is the far more efficient way to get clothes clean.  According to him, they actually worked out optimal amounts to use but "made their money on the people who thought that more equalled cleaner."
 
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Leigh Tate wrote:
We added an outdoor laundry facility when we fixed and expanded our carport.



Wow, that's a beautiful set up.  Where's the washer from?  Looks like you mounted a bought wringer on a galvanized tub and built the set-up.  Have you posted about it?
 
Carla Burke
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Dianne Justeen wrote:

Carla Burke wrote:A washing machine repairman once told me to only use 1/3 - 1/2 the amount of laundry soap recommended, too. He said more than that is not only unnecessary, but speeds deterioration of the washer and your clothes, by about the same difference.



That's because most people never bother checking to see what the recommended amount of detergent is in the first place.  Whatever "measuring cap" comes with it gets filled, and often then some, for each wash.
Usually that's triple the recommended amount.  When I was in college back in the 80's, my lab instructor for organic chemistry was a former chemist for Proctor and Gamble.  Nice guy and we were often chit-chatting. This was one of his pet peeves. He assured us that using extra detergent not only didn't get clothes cleaner but made them dirtier from residue.  His professional advice was that it's better to use less detergent and more time.  Time spent soaking is the far more efficient way to get clothes clean.  According to him, they actually worked out optimal amounts to use but "made their money on the people who thought that more equalled cleaner."



Actually, no. He very specifically said 'the recommended amount', and I clarified that, with him. I'll not say what he said about people who didn't bother to even check on how much the recommended amount was, because it falls into the 'very not nice' category.
 
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Carla Burke wrote:I'll not say what he said about people who didn't bother to even check on how much the recommended amount was, because it falls into the 'very not nice' category.



Thanks for the clarification.  I've always said that although I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, my superpower is that I read and follow directions.  So I've never understood the aversion to doing so.
 
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