I learned to do laundry in an era when everyone hung their clothes outside to dry. Dingy and stained laundry, whether it was white socks, kitchen towels or dad's coveralls, was a sign of a lazy and uncaring housewife. Everything we washed came out sparkling clean, and even though colored clothes faded over time from an abundance of bleach, they were clean.
We didn't wash our clothes every time we put them on for a few minutes, either. We wore a pair of jeans or a shirt two or three days and sometimes more. (With a family of eight kids, two pairs of jeans each in a week's time was enough, anyway.) Dirty laundry meant dirty, not "not fresh." Mom had a wringer washer by the time I started helping with the laundry, so stains and real dirt were no real problem.
There's something magic in the rhythmic slosh and gurgle of laundry and hot water. That agitator was styled for serious business, not like today's wimpy agitators, with gentle curves rocking back and forth. Oh, no. This was a vigorous and slender tower, with blades stretched taut against top and bottom, slapping and swooshing and forcing water and detergent through sodden fibers until they turned loose of every bit of grime.
As the clothes twisted and writhed in the hot tub, we could lift the lid without disturbing the process and determine if they were clean yet. Nothing shut off; nothing second guessed what we wanted to do. It was plain and simple. Turn it on, put the water and detergent and clothes in, turn it off when we were ready.
Ten to fifteen minutes was enough for most things, but for the really grungy jeans and coveralls, we "let them run" to 30 minutes or more.
And I don't believe the baloney that after ten minutes your clothes are as clean as the detergent will get them. I know better. Unless you're washing in filthy water to begin with (or your detergent is worthless), your clothes will get cleaner and cleaner with each passing minute. (Why else do they have "heavy" (long) and "light" (short) washes on modern machines?)
There are tricks to buying and using a wringer washer, but first let me give you the reasons you should consider one:
Pat Veretto is a work at home grandmother who has homesteaded, homeschooled and happily lived frugally most of her life. She currently freelances and is the moderator of The Dollar Stretcher Community.
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