Lessons From Doing Laundry By Hand

I have been doing laundry by hand for a while now, ever since my old washing machine finally quit working (see this post - When Good Appliances Go Bad) and I have learned a few things - both good and bad, humorous and sad - about doing laundry by hand.
This is my Laundry List of Things I've Learned While Washing Clothes By Hand:

1. Towels are meant to absorb water and they are really good at it.

2. Jeans are hard to hand wash and nearly impossible to wring out. I'm thinking a week after Levi Strauss invented blue jeans, Mrs. Levi Strauss was working on creating an automatic washing machine.

3. Apparently, me, my husband, and our cat all shed - a lot.

4. Washing clothes by hand is a real workout and that has plusses and minusses:
    a) working out is good for you.
    b) it can be really exhausting.
    c) you have to do your "workout" or you don't have clean clothes.
    d) you build up enough upper body strength that if someone teases you about doing your laundry by hand, you could probably sling them around the room a few times without getting out of breath.

5. You can get your clothes cleaner doing them by hand because each piece gets personal attention.

6. I'm using less water by doing laundry by hand.

7. My husband brings home a lot of dust from job sites in his clothes. If I could find a way to save it, I wouldn't have to buy potting soil for my plants.

8. I miss my old washing machine.

9. Some clothes, depending on the material, can poof into a balloon when you try to push them into the water; it is a nuisance when you are trying to do laundry, but these clothes might make great emergency flotation devices.

10. This is something that really surprised me - Some clothes have different sections of material that you don't notice until you hand wash them. I discovered a t-shirt that has one sleeve made of a lighter weight material than the rest of the shirt. It is not noticeable until you soak it in water, then it is obvious. And one of my husband's long-sleeved shirts is made with a couple of 'patches' of different thread/material. Again, you don't notice it when the shirt is dry, but when it's wet, the sections of different thread/material is easily seen. I wonder how common that is? Is it done to save the manufacturers money? To create a weak spot in the fabric so it rips and the consumer has to buy a new garment? I know of several people who have been complaining about jeans wearing out quickly in unmentionable places - are the jeans made that way? Made of different thread/material in unmentionable places so that they will wear out faster and have to be replaced?

Bonus! Bonus! Bonus!

The top things I've learned while line-drying my clothes:
1. Laundry + Windy Day + Cheap Clothespins = Shirts in The Shrubs
2. Towels are meant to absorb water and they are good at it.
3. Jeans are so stiff after they've dried on the line that you could almost just stand them in the closet.
And Most Importantly:
4. If you hang sheets on the line to dry, make sure they are high enough off of the ground that your neighbors dog can't pee on them.


  1. Back when I was a young, first time bride, I solved the problem of not having a washing machine by throwing the dirty clothes into the bathtub with some detergent. I rolled up my pants and stomped like Lucy in a vat of grapes. Clean clothes and very clean feet. Those were the days.

    1. You're not the only person I've heard tell of washing their clothes like that! I thought about it but I think my knees would give out quicker than you can say "I'm going to dig under the couch cushions and look for change so I can head to the laundromat!"

  2. Cute post and very informative! I was looking at hand washing machines on Amazon not too long ago! I hang out all my clothes but it's been years since I washed by hand. When we first married we were very poor so I'd wash my clothes in the bathtub.