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Old 16-06-2009, 11:02   #1
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Washing Clothes Aboard

Got a tip while cruising in the Bahamas this year for water conservation while washing clothes by hand.

If you do clothes the bucket and plunger way as we do on our 25' Watkins, Wu-Hsin, you can save on water by using only clear ammonia in stead of detergent if the clothes are just sweaty and not muddy or greasy.

The advantage is that you can just ring the clothes out without rinsing. Ammonia will neutralize any bacteria and is a great cleaning agent used in products like Windex and Mr. Clean. The ammonia smell completely disappears when drying. We use about 1 or 2 oz. of ammonia to 2 gallons of water.
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Old 16-06-2009, 12:01   #2
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or just go naked...
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Old 16-06-2009, 12:30   #3
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Yay Naked! (boo sun burns in bad places ) lol
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Old 16-06-2009, 15:39   #4
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It's an option that has been used .....but I'm Italian so I don't burn.
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Old 16-06-2009, 17:48   #5
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The downside is that NH3 has its negative effects on the environment. Ammonia is different from urea. Urea is much less toxic.

Urea cycle
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Old 16-06-2009, 18:17   #6
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Everything has a downside. Every solution creates new problems. We weigh the pros and cons and make our choices. In this case I think the impact on the environment is minimal as used.
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Old 16-06-2009, 19:08   #7
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Quote:
Everything has a downside.
We really don't need to know all of them. Things in moderation work (except wine). So how is it on wine stains? I've found peroxide and Dawn dish washing liquid works even on colors if you are fast. Saved a great shirt that way. Even works the day after in case your speed has degraded from the process of acquiring the stain - could happen!
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Old 16-06-2009, 23:34   #8
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I've never had a wine stain while naked.

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Old 17-06-2009, 01:33   #9
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All good idea's: we thought about it to, instead of a bucket plunger method. We found our old concrete mixer w/lid works well. It has a built in agitator and it doesn't leak. It's about the size of a tall/thin 5 gal bucket. We just roll it around. I like the no detergent. Smell elemination is always a good thing.
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Old 17-06-2009, 10:54   #10
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All good idea's: we thought about it to, instead of a bucket plunger method. We found our old concrete mixer w/lid works well. It has a built in agitator and it doesn't leak. It's about the size of a tall/thin 5 gal bucket. We just roll it around. I like the no detergent. Smell elemination is always a good thing.
We Have two of those plastic 'concrete mixers'. Are yours about the size of a 20 lb propane tank? Space again was a consideration on our 25' boat so we leave them at the farm as backup to the washing machine.

The ammonia only works to kill bacteria and break down body oils, as I said mud and grease require detergent. Stains I can't say. For stains we use 'Spray-n-Wash Stain Stick' ('contains surfactants and enzymes'). We also use Borax powder if we want to 'whiten and brighten'. Yeah, Yeah Yeah...it is boric acid but you can also mix it with sugar and leave it out for cockroaches etc...it WILL kill them.

By the way, by the time the ammonia and the Borax interact with the organic material in the laundry (assuming you don't use too much) they have pretty much used up their ability to do any damage to the organic life in the water that we don't want to hurt. I invite the chemists out there to explain why. My wife's uncle was a chemist for United Fruit Co then professor of Chemistry at UNC Charlotte for 30 years. He explained to me the low impact of ammonia but I don't remember the details.
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Old 17-06-2009, 11:01   #11
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What's wrong with a little hand rinse in the sink? Most anything we wear while cruising will fit there. Sheets, and towels are saved for when we find a laundry. Even if you are crossing an ocean. A laundry is only 3 weeks away for sheets, and towels......i2f
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Old 17-06-2009, 11:22   #12
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5 gal bucket with the lid on, Joy detergent. Hang it over the side just a little in the water on a halyard or anything that works and keeps it away from the hull. wave action agitates it over night or however long you need. Or, in the dingy for the afternoon, while the dingy bounces up and down behind your (anchored) boat. No labor required!
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Old 17-06-2009, 13:09   #13
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When possible the Naked bit works best as you can generally clean the birthday suite with a salt water bath and fresh rinse.

Otherwise we do them in small loads with rain water when ever possible or salt the minimum Joy or Dawn detergent and rinse in fresh water.

If your good... and lucky you can time your cleaning so that the rains will do the rinse after you hang the articles out. In the Carib this is typically at night or early AM followed by a nice sunny day which dries the clothing fast..... even towels.

Selection of the best clothing types helps a lot. While cotton is nice, several of the poly blends with cotton seems to work best at not getting as dirty looking and clean up / dry faster and softer. I have some tan shorts that work well enough when I have to have something on :^) but wash and dry really fast. Very comfortable even while doing boat work as they don't bind like 100% cotton does.

Lighter weight fabrics generally work well but some of the blends work even better. For Clean up "rags" the stuff called "microfiber" really does a great job and cleans up well.

We find a couple of pairs of shorts and tops generally are all we use while out and that only takes a few minutes to clean up. Keep towels ready to hang out in a rain storm and let Mother Nature do the work.
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Old 17-06-2009, 13:42   #14
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The downside is that NH3 has its negative effects on the environment. Ammonia is different from urea. Urea is much less toxic.

Urea cycle
Don't want to start another 'sunscreen and coral reef' fiasco, but...urine is full of NH3 (ammonia), and I would suspect that if every boat on the ocean dumped a gallon of pure ammonia per day, it would be absolutely insignificant compared to all the urine dumped into the ocean every day...

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Old 17-06-2009, 15:20   #15
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Don't want to start another 'sunscreen and coral reef' fiasco, but...urine is full of NH3 (ammonia), and I would suspect that if every boat on the ocean dumped a gallon of pure ammonia per day, it would be absolutely insignificant compared to all the urine dumped into the ocean every day...

pete


sorry, but I think you may be confusing Volume with Strength or MOL for things like NH3. Human urine is not "full" of NH3 but does have some. A Gallon of pure Ammonia.... high MOL would far out-way the effects of Human urine NH3 by a factor well over 10,000 if I recall my chemistry at all.
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