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Old 10-05-2018, 11:15   #1
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Laundry with minimal freshwater?

Any tips? I'm thinking of testing a bunch. I've always just cut back on the soap, agitated a lot, and did the whole business in fresh water.
  • Saltwater with fresh rinse. Seems to take a lot of rinsing.
  • Vinegar in the rinse. The soap comes out a little faster.
  • Ammonia, no rinse. I've tried it and found the clothes uncomfortable. Not certain fabrics, like silk.
There is also the matter of how to get the water out before the rinse and before drying.
  • Wring them. Hard on clothes and hard on the hands. Easier around a railing.
  • Smash in a bucket with holes.
  • Car wash wringer.
Other ideas?
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Old 10-05-2018, 11:26   #2
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Re: Laundry with minimal freshwater?

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
Any tips? I'm thinking of testing a bunch. I've always just cut back on the soap, agitated a lot, and did the whole business in fresh water.
  • Saltwater with fresh rinse. Seems to take a lot of rinsing.
  • Vinegar in the rinse. The soap comes out a little faster.
  • Ammonia, no rinse. I've tried it and found the clothes uncomfortable. Not certain fabrics, like silk.
There is also the matter of how to get the water out before the rinse and before drying.
  • Wring them. Hard on clothes and hard on the hands. Easier around a railing.
  • Smash in a bucket with holes.
  • Car wash wringer.
Other ideas?
Equipment:
Bucket and drain plunger.

For best results fill bucket 2/3 with laundry. Add just enough fresh water to cover. You might be able to add a bit more laundry at this point.

Use detergent made for high efficiency washers. Use just a little. Don't go by the amount it takes to make suds, these are formulated to NOT foam.

Agitate with plunger. A lot. Mix, plunge, mix, repeat... repeat again. It's therapeutic

You are right, now comes the key... get as much of the soapy water out as possible. Without equipment, you can wring, or you can use a hand cranked "roller wringer". The more water you can wring out on each step, the cleaner things will get. Look up "Lehman's Amish Hardware"... I'll bet they have a hand cranker wringer...

Repeat with fresh water 2 or 3 times. Wringing is important...

3 "gallons" of clothes will take about 4 gallons of fresh water.
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Old 10-05-2018, 13:14   #3
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Re: Laundry with minimal freshwater?

Sail naked! Reduces the need for laundry.
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Old 14-05-2018, 09:24   #4
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Re: Laundry with minimal freshwater?

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Sail naked! Reduces the need for laundry.
As someone looking to sail and possibly live aboard in the PNW in the next few years, this option sounds 'a tad nippy'...

But a more reasonable option along that line of thinking would be to look towards layers - Light weight inner layers of tight weave fabrics to catch and hold skin oils can then reduce the frequency needed to wash heavier outer layers.

Asking "Does this really need to be cleaned now?" and "Can this be spot cleaned" can go a long way towards reducing over all water and energy usage whether on land or on a boat. A brush can occasionally go a long way towards extending the clean-life of some garments between actual wet washings.



The biggest downside for a lot of water saving concepts for something like laundry is that they'll take time and energy, but also can end up taking a ton of space. So careful trade offs have to be considered. Don't forget that one of the biggest efficiency factors in any system - volume - can mean you carry more clothing and wash clothing in larger/longer batches... But what are you doing with the soiled clothing while waiting to build up enough to justify a high efficient-high volume process? In a home that might not be a huge deal, but on a boat that could mean lockers being over stuffed and encouraging less than desirable life-form growth.


If you have the space for it, you could consider running with 'saved water' stages while doing larger amounts of clothes at one time. Rather than discarding water after its first use it is instead reused for a later washing.

This can be as simple as the rinse water from the first load becomes the wash water of the second load, or you can expand it with far more stages. Pre-wash, [multiple wash stages] [series of rinse stages] - The goal being that each litre of water used in a given stage is less likely to become contaminated to the point that it can't be reused at that stage, but is also reused in an earlier stage anyway after reaching 'exhaustion' on its current stage.

For land based wash systems they can even go a step further with settling and separation tanks to extend wash grey-water usage, but on a boat you'll be limited to trying filter setups - Unless you find yourself hopping between desert islands you can setup camp on without access to more fresh water?
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Old 14-05-2018, 10:23   #5
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Re: Laundry with minimal freshwater?

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Originally Posted by Luckless View Post
If you have the space for it, you could consider running with 'saved water' stages while doing larger amounts of clothes at one time. Rather than discarding water after its first use it is instead reused for a later washing.

This can be as simple as the rinse water from the first load becomes the wash water of the second load, or you can expand it with far more stages. Pre-wash, [multiple wash stages] [series of rinse stages] - The goal being that each litre of water used in a given stage is less likely to become contaminated to the point that it can't be reused at that stage, but is also reused in an earlier stage anyway after reaching 'exhaustion' on its current stage.
I did absolutely all the washing on board by hand on our previous boat for a decade. Re-using water worked very well. I did laundry in biggish batches. The cleanest and lightest coloured clothes were soaked over night first in a large tub on deck. The movement of the boat at anchor helped with the cleaning action. No scrubbing was necessary. The load was well wrung in the morning (on the rail) and dunked in a second tub of fresh water. The second soak was was several hours. Another wring, and another soak and a final wring followed.

Meanwhile the next batch was put in to soak in the original container, sometimes with a little extra detergent depending on soiling. This water was usually then discarded.

The third and forth batches were usually soaked in the first lot of rinse water.

Detergent used was peroxide based (Vanish, also sometimes called Oxiclean and originally known as Napisan). There are no suds and it needs little rinsing. Detergent that has not been rinsed out well attracts dirt, so this is very valuable.
I used a tiny amount of standard soapy liquid detergent rubbed into greasy stains, as Vanish works less well on these.

Clothes were always absolutely spotless. I am still using white bedlinen from two years ago and it is snow white.

SWL
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Old 14-05-2018, 12:28   #6
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Laundry with minimal freshwater?

I gave up and installed a Watermaker and a washing machine.
The washing machine does use a phenomenal amount of water though.
In the Army in Kuwait and other places where water was scarce, we washed our clothes in a waterproof bag, laying it in the sun heated the water more than you would think, and hot water seems to clean better than cold. The bag used less water than a bucket and of course took up almost no storage space. Kneeding the bag was easier than using a plunger and bucket. We used Woolite as it rinsed out easy, do not use regular laundry soap, it is real difficult to rinse out.
I think it being hot, would help conserve water
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