The Washboard Part 2

One day on Facebook I randomly posted this picture:
I wrote “Thankful for my mom’s washboard”

One friend expressed the desire of wanting one. Another said she couldn’t live without hers. The majority had never used one and couldn’t figure out how I have time to wash clothes this way. Honestly, I never really used to wash laundry this way. I have a working washing machine. I used to only hand wash diaper covers and other delicate items. I now do the majority of my laundry this way.

Well, there are several reasons.One is that it is cheaper. I use cold water and a bar of laundry soap. That’s it. Another reason is it is environmentally friendly. The last reason is it reduces the amount of waste going into the septic at the house we are currently living in.

How exactly does one use a washboard? First I fill up both sides of the sink with cold water. I add the laundry and the washboard to one side. I use a simple bar of laundry soap which can be found in the laundry aisle at the store.


Bar of laundry soap. You can find this in the laundry aisle.

I rub a bit of soap on the clothes and then scrub away. Some clothes need more effort than others; armpits always get a good scrubbing 😉 After the clothes are scrubbed I plop them into the other side of the sink; if you remember this is also full of cold water.




Once I finish washing the load I drain the sink, rinse it out, and fill it about halfway with cold water. Are the clothes clean? You decide:


Before. Can you tell Zen was crawling outside? 😉

I swirl the soapy clothes around in the water that they have been sitting in and squeeze them out one at a time and put them into the clean water. Once I am done I drain that sink and rinse it.

After. Pretty clean in my opinion :)

After. Pretty clean in my opinion 🙂

I then wring out each item one last time. If they seem a bit soapy I will rinse them again, but I use so little soap that this is rarely necessary. The only thing that would make this easier is a wringer. Oh what I would give to have a laundry wringer! I hang much of our laundry although towels are always put in the dryer because I hate crunchy towels.

I want to note I separate laundry very differently when I hand wash it. I tend to wash based on type and start with the lighter items. For example I wash all the socks together. Underwear and diapers are always washed separately and last.

Tell me, do you ever hand wash your clothes? Would you ever consider using a washboard?

The Washboard Part 1

It is a cool morning and the early morning sun is blazing through the kitchen windows. The sink faces these windows. It is quiet. Peaceful. The bitter cold water runs into the double basin sink, filling one side and then the next. There is a job to be done.

I grab the overflowing laundry basket from my bedroom and hold it against my hip as I head to the sun-soaked kitchen. I am pretty sure that when I die there will be a permanent indent on that side of my body. I drop the basket with a satisfying sound onto the floor and start sorting the items into piles. The socks and other small articles go immediately into the water-filled sink. Shirts, pants, diapers, diaper covers…..everything gets sorted. Right now the piles are overwhelming and my arms scream in the anticipation of the ache they know they will feel in an hours time.

I grab the soap and inhale. I love the smell. It is familiar. I am not even sure why. My mom didn’t use this soap. Did one of my grandmothers use it? I am not sure. The only thing I know is that the smell calms me.



I grab my mom’s washboard and plunge my hands into the icy water and I start scrubbing. Each sock is cleaned, dunked and tossed into the other side of the sink where clean, clear water awaits. My arms move without prompting. I have done this enough that my muscles know what to do. I don’t even have to think about it and before I know it I have finished the multitude of socks. I drain the dirty, soapy water and move to the clean socks that are waiting to be rinsed out. Swish, squeeze, plop. The socks are tossed into the other side of the sink that is now empty.

Once each sock is rinsed I drain the water and start over. My hands are red, raw and aching from the piercingly cold water. I put them under my arm pits to warm them before starting the shirts.

I look into the mudroom where the washing machine is gathering dust. It taunts me. It’s Energy Efficient status just can’t hold a candle to the washboard though. The machine is only used for blanket, sheets, and towels. I look away from the tempter and plunge my hands back into the frigidness. There is a job to be done.