I have three ways to do laundry.
The best is to take it to the local laundromat, which is great here in American Samoa
, but VERY expensive between Panama
The other ways are on the boat.
Many of use (including me) don't have the space to install and plumb an electric
clothes washer, but it would be nice.
If you use detergent, the difficult part is the wringing out the dirty soapy water. It takes a few (at least) rinses, and a lot of water. Some people even use a rinse in salt water, since it is easier to rinse out salt than detergent. Chamois wringers (from the car wash places), or an electric
centrifuge spinner could make this a lot easier, but I don't have either yet. They are bulky and expensive one use items.
How you wash the laundry, or which detergent isn't the problem. I finally threw away my "wonder wash" (a very bulky, one function only, and NO advantages item) in Panama
. In good conscience I couldn't have sold it. I haven't even used the washboard I got, but agree with the 5 gallon bucket and plunger.
I prefer ammonia. Ammonia works well, but isn't as good as a laundromat (with some laundromat exceptions!). It has the tremendous advantage of using very little water, since it doesn't need to be rinsed. And it is very easy, since you just wring out the dirty water once, and hang the laundry up to dry. The ammonia will evaporate. Then you can use the same ammonia water for the next batch of not so critical laundry - until the water is too dirty to use, and/or the ammonia has been used up. The last wash is for the rags. When you finally throw the wash water out, there is very little ammonia left in it.
It isn't as good as a "commercial" laundry; that is, having a local do it for you, or a do it yourself place. I use ammonia laundry between laundromats. But some laundry facilities charge $20 a load (also dried and folded), and don't guaranty that you won't end up with new stains or pink underwear. It is often a long trip to get your laundry done, and it gets heavy.
Ammonia is hard to find in some countries, so beware. I usually start with 1/2 cup in 5 gallons of water, and add more when needed. Someday I may experiment
with spot treatment, with either ammonia or a few drops of detergent.