This morning I tackled part of a job I do just about every day. It usually involves standing a long while, getting wet, and dealing with someone’s dirty underwear. It is….(drum roll please)…scrubbing laundry.
Now, ya’ll who have never done this, it really isn’t that bad. Ok, the poopy underwear isn’t pleasing…I will admit that.
I’ve been using this Dubl-Handi washboard for nearly a year now. I found it at a local antique shop for $4, with some wear, but plenty of use left. Believe me, with 5 people in the family it sure gets it. When I bought it, it still had all the pretty writing (in red) saying the Dubl Handi name and some other little things about the sturdiness. This all went away when I put the first bar of Fels Naptha on it. I like this little board. It is just the right size to use in a sink (say if we ever once stay at a hotel), bucket, or other small space. It also has a second side that is for silks, handkerchiefs, nylons, etc.
The main side has extra ridges on the metal, allowing for water to get in the fibers and wash out dirt and grime as the fabric is rubbed against the board. If used roughly, it can and will put holes in clothing if too much elbow grease is used.
I’m lazy. I like to let my homemade soap do most of the work.
There are benefits for using a simple washboard…seriously! Sure, it’s physical work, but there’s reward. In using a washboard, there’s no need for an expensive washer and dryer. You do the work of the agitating the clothing against the board to get the dirt out. You have a portable “washer” you can take anywhere. You can get out stains and dirt that you didn’t realize was in your clothing. It saves trips to a laundrymat if you don’t have a washer/dryer. You can wash without having electricity.
Now, I can hear some ladies saying “that’s hard work!!” Well, yes, you have to use your shoulders, arms, hands, and back. You may even break a nail or two, or scrub them off on the metal. You may get tired. I know I am after a day of rocking the board! But after seeing crisp clean whites hanging out on the line, bright colors drying in the breeze, smelling the scent of fresh air in the clothes, it’s worth it. The monitary savings is very much worth it, as is showing my children and husband that I’m willing to work hard.
How do you use this simple little board? First, fill up your basin/bucket/tote/sink with water (your choice of location, just make sure you have room for your clothing). I use hot water, with some liquid Fels Naptha laundry soap I’ve already made. Set your board in legs first, and add in a couple of pieces of clothing. As in a regular washer, too much clothing doesn’t leave room for agitating and they won’t get clean…the same principal applies here too. Take up one piece of clothing and have it flat against your palm and fingers, and then do circular motions with it across the board until you feel it’s clean. I’d say 2 to 5 times max for one area. Then, go across all areas of the piece. It works for something as small as a dishcloth all the way to sheets and blankets. Heavier stained areas will need more work. Since most folks don’t get out and filthy dirty, like you’d see with farm work or mechanics or the like, most clothing won’t take long at all to get clean. I personally do get farm work dirty (even though we don’t live on a farm, I do the outside work here, and there’s plenty to do), at least sometimes, and so I have to work a little harder on my own clothing. Of course I keep some older raggedy type pieces for that type of work so it’s not so hard on my nicer clothing.
After you wash your piece(s), you put them in a bucket of clean rinse water. This allows the soap to rinse out of the fibers. Many folks use fabric softener in their laundry, especially in regular washers, or they feel stiffness and static in their clothing. The reason this happens is that the soap doesn’t get totally rinsed out of the clothing, leaving a stiffness and residue. I personally set up 2 buckets most days, or one that is changed out very often if I don’t have room for two. A nice long dip in the rinse water takes out the soap, leaving your clothes nice and soft, even when put on a clothes line! Even my towels come out soft (when I’m not rushing and let them sit in the rinse water a while).
The hardest part comes here. Wringing clothes by hand is not for the faint of heart. Twist em, squeeze em, do what you have to do to get the excess water out! This is the equivelent of a spin cycle in the washing machine. You can spin if you want to. 🙂
Next, haul it all to the line. This is God’s dryer. This was used long before the electric ones that heat up the house. Believe it or not it can be used year round too! A warm breeze and sun works great, but clothes will get dry even in the dead of winter when humidity is low. I found this through the winter when using the line even well below zero. I did get hit with some freeze dried clothing, but they all eventually dried and my hands warmed up. 🙂
I’ve found that hanging pants by the bottom hems work great. I’ve also found hanging shirts by the bottom work nicely. Socks I hang by the toe area. Skirts I put up by the waist, merely to save room on the lines. I have 6 dedicated lines and occasionally I use hubby’s dog run (a large cable that runs from my T poles to a tree), making 7 lines. It takes a full day of scrubbing to fill them up, but does get a lot done.
Some days, I admit I get weary in scrubbing. When I hear ladies complaining about their HE or top loading washers, I think of my little simple scrub board. It never leaks. It doesn’t grow mold. It never needs a repairman. Should anything happen to it, replacing it is as easy as going to the antiques shop or to the Columbus Washboard Company’s website. Or Etsy. Or Ebay.
After nearly a year, I have to say, I don’t think I’d really want to have a washer or dryer again. I use less water, as one tub of water can do a lot more wash than one run in the washing machine. rinsing takes longer, but again, uses less water. I have no electricity (except what it takes to heat the water) need when I wash this way. I can take my board and buckets outside and enjoy the warm air in the summer and work outside if I desire. That is something I enjoy in the hotter months, as the sun warms the water, I can take things directly to the line just a few feet away, and I get to be outside. Ok, so I get some odd looks from folks driving by, but that’s fine. It’s my back yard and I’ll wash if I want to.
Well, I needs get back to the wash!