Laundry Day Gets Different When Resources Are At Stake

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There are so many things I love about laundry day. Something about clothes hanging on the line, an empty hamper and the idea of general cleanliness. The best laundry days around here are sunny so there’s plenty of solar power to run the machine and to dry the clothes quickly on the line. We try to get the laundry out in the morning so the heavier things have a longer time to dry.

We use a front loading washer here at the moment. It was here when we bought the house and it works fine. It’s an old machine, smaller than the new ones, but it holds quite a large load. It uses far less water than the top loaders, but still comes in at 30 gallons per load. I put a meter on it once to find out. It gets stuffed full and we put in a bag of soap nuts and wash in cold water. On a perfect laundry day with weather and washer co-operating, It gets done quickly and easily.

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Laundry Plan B

About a year ago, our washer stopped spinning. Fortunately, I was able to fix the spinning problem but seeing the other problems, I knew we needed a laundry plan B.

As I mentioned, the washer was here when we bought the place. Actually it was here when the place was built. That’s not so bad, except the guy that built the house put the washer in place and then BUILT THE LAUNDRY ROOM AROUND IT!

After taking some measurements, we found that there is no way that washer went through the door. That means when it goes, it will have to be dismantled to get it out of the room. There’s no way a new front loader will go in! Definitely, when there isn’t full co-operation of nature and machinery, we have plan B.

I love my plan B’s. I have them for a lot of things. Plan B’s are necessary out here in the high desert.

Plan B for laundry goes like this:

If it’s cloudy outside, running the generator to do laundry seems like such a waste. Really, I could wait for a sunny day when solar power is plentiful.

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Propane costs money. So, if it’s a cloudy day and I just can’t wait to do laundry, there is always the big wash tub, the breathing hand washer and the washboard. Usually if it’s cloudy, there’s something else going on in the sky. It’s either raining, snowing or the wind is blowing.

If I wash by hand, it usually means that soon the wooden floor drying clothes racks will be in the house filled with the clothes. This will add needed moisture to our home!

Arizona Desert Laundry Adventure

The wind here is quite impressive. Even with our best clothespins, the laundry can end up at the neighbor’s house 40 acres away. Those wooden floor drying racks racks come in very handy when we get high winds.We do have twoclotheslines. One is outside my studio where it gets full sun. The other goes around our porch. In high winds, neither line is safe for the clothes. In the spring, laundry is hung indoors on racks quite often.

With water conservation a necessity out here, it’s mandatory to watch what we have and consider what we do, especially during the spring months. It’s usually drought conditions here and the water is starting to run low because we don’t get “April showers.” No, we get “April high winds and blowing dirt.”

When the springtime water supply gets low, we are trying to make it until the monsoon rains in July, when we’ll collect water. (That’s another article!)

This is my set-up when I'm doing hand laundry on the porch.
This is my set-up when I’m doing hand laundry on the porch.

Out come the washtub and breathing hand washer again. The water savings really help get through the lean months. We could always just go to town and spend a day and more than a few dollars in the laundromat, but that’s just not what we do. Blankets can be saved for when the rains begin, and so can anything else that can’t be done by hand. No, the laundromat just isn’t for me. I would rather beat my clothes on a rock!

Lehman's Best Hand Wringer
Lehman’s Best Hand Wringer

A Backup Plan B

We even have a plan B for the Laundry Plan B, for the day when our washer does give up the ghost.

We have decided to get an electric wringer washer. Years ago, I used one and it wasn’t hard to operate. The water savings is worth it. The drained water could be put into the garden in the early spring months when water is scarce.

I could set it up in the patio during the summer months, allowing for more storage in the laundry room (if I could get the old washer out!). It would take more time, but it would sure be easier on the resources. We think it’s a good plan.

Doing the laundry would take more effort, but everything out here does. Our life isn’t about having all the modern conveniences, bells and whistles. It’s about doing things in a way that is thoughtful while caring for and conserving our resources.

What about just having a wringer and 2 buckets? Everything could be washed by hand. I do that when the weather is bad anyway, right? But, it’s Arizona. The weather isn’t bad very often.

No, I don’t think so. I’m all for being thoughtful and conserving. I don’t have a dryer and I love the smell of clean clothes that have been hanging out to dry. I didn’t mind giving that up. But give up the washer? I just can’t do it. I still need a machine. I don’t need hi-tech, but something that at least agitates and has a wringer would be fine.

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