There was only a half a load of laundry and I decided to wash it by hand rather than use the washer.
The bathtub was my container of choice, and I decided to use a plunger to work the clothes in the hot water. Now, I’ve washed clothes by hand before – quite a few times, as a matter of fact. I used to own a washboard, a tub and a hand wringer, but when I moved to town, modern conveniences and all that mythology was calling me, so I got rid of both the washboard and wringer.
Anyway… the bathtub worked great, except that I have one of those push in plugs and when I caught it with the plunger, it came loose and the water started draining. The plunger worked fine, too, except that if I wasn’t careful it would stick to the bottom of the tub and I’d have to pry or pull it loose with a mighty splash. (Lehmans has a real laundry plunger called a “Breathing Washer,” and it won’t stick to the bathtub!)
I learned a few things that I’d either forgotten or hadn’t taken the time to notice before. One is that if you have a basement laundry and you’re washing clothes upstairs, you really should bring up the laundry soap when you bring up the dirty clothes. And bring up the basket at the same time. And any other laundry aids you might need.
I forgot to bring up the basket when I brought up the detergent and I forgot to bring up the fabric softener when I brought up the basket. Washing clothes isn’t the hardest job in the world, but running up and down stairs in the midst of it makes it a little harder.
Washing clothes by hand has some definite advantages, neverthetheless.
One is that you find minor problems before they become major problems. As I was checking to be sure the socks were clean, I noticed that one of them was wearing thin at the heel. I will put that back when it’s dry and darn it before wearing it again. This is a sock that I knitted from some mystery yarn a couple of years ago, so it will be worth darning although it looks like it won’t wear as well as those made from sock yarn.
Another benefit to washing clothes by hand is that most fabrics won’t pill as they do in washing machines.
And third, while scrubbing dirty socks isn’t my choice of fun exercise, it is exercise. In this day of computers and push-a-button, turn-a-dial work, a little exercise doesn’t hurt.
The last point is one that maybe not everyone can appreciate. I had a moment of utter pride in a job well done when I hung the clothes out to dry. Clothes hanging on a clothesline make me smile anyway, and to think that I’d done it from start to finish…
(Editor’s Note: This post first published in 2007.)