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Do your laundry in a bucket

Air dried.
Air dried.
Tracy Bunker

Do your laundry in a bucket!! It sounds a little unattractive, but it really isn’t hard. All you will need is:

  • 1 standard five gallon bucket with a lid and a handle, spray painted black
  • 1 bar laundry soap, such as Fels-Naptha or Zote
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Essential oil such as lavender or cinnamon, if desired
  • Clean, cold water
  • Clean, brand-new toilet plunger
  • Cheese grater
  1. To wash your clothes, begin by grating about 1/5 of the bar of soap into the bottom of the bucket, then filling the bucket 2/3 full with water. Swish the water about with your hands to get the soap dissolved a bit.
  2. Put your clothes into the soapy water and use the plunger your fists to agitate them for a few minutes, to soak them completely and to get the soap dispersed.
  3. Put the lid on the bucket and place the bucket in the direct sunlight sun for about 6 hours. Be careful, because the water may get very hot. Once you feel like they have soaked sufficiently in the sun-warmed water, pour it off and use your hands to wring out the clothes.
  4. Placed the wrung clothes back into the rinsed, empty bucket and re-fill the bucket with new, cold, clear water. Use your hands or the plunger to agitate and rinse the clothes for about 2-3 minutes. You can add a capful of apple cider vinegar as an all-natural softener at this point to help break any remaining soap residue and to keep clothes from becoming stiff as they dry. This may make your clothes smell a little vinegary, but you can always add a few drops of essential oils to your rinse water to counteract the vinegar smell.
  5. Drain off the rinse water and once again wring out your now-clean clothes. Hang on a line or hangers to dry.

Washing your clothes this way is easy and affordable. All you need is a few items that are easily found at a small hardware store. You can simply get your laundry soaking in the morning and have the clothes hanging to dry by suppertime. If you do just a few loads a week, you can easily keep up with household towels, underwear, light shirts, cloth diapers or baby clothes. This type of washing is not recommended for heavy clothes like coats or jeans or heavy work pants. But this method can greatly lower your electric and water bill and keep you on top of the sometimes overwhelming laundry situation.

The great thing about washing your clothes in a bucket is that even slightly older children can do it. This is a great chore for children over about 8 years old. If you do have children helping you in this way, you may have to make sure the soaking water doesn’t get to hot to handle left out in the sun.

Do your laundry in a bucket! It saves time, money, water, soap, the environment, and is simple and requires no scrubbing or heavy chemicals.