March 11, 2021

Outdoor Laundry Day

Awhile back, I showed you the outdoor laundry center we set up in the newly revamped carport. But I've realized that I never showed you how we use it. I had some nice weather recently and took some pictures. 

We have a two-tub system. The stand accommodates a wringer too.

Dan set up a tank to collect rainwater from
the carport roof, just for doing laundry.

I've switched from using a liquid detergent to soap nuts. I found
boxes of them for $5 each at a local Ollie's. I really like them.

I'm leisurely about doing laundry outside. I give it long soaks
and use my breathing plunger from time to time in between.

Wringing from the dirty wash water into the rinse water.

The clothesline is conveniently right behind the carport.

My clothesline will hold two tub loads. If I wash the cleanest stuff first, the water in the tubs can be reused for the dirtier load. I like that. When I'm done, I drain the water via a garden hose to nearby plants or trees.

Dan added a hose bib to each tub.

Clean, fresh, and folded.


  1. I suppose nobody who knows you ever asks what you do all day long. Kind of along the same lines that farmers never ask other farmers what they are doing this winter.

  2. I love it! Having used the bucket an plunger method off an on through out the years I discovered that it does a fine job. Now I have a couple soap but trees an got some nuts from it recently... Ill be giving them a try!

  3. Soap nut....
    Spell check strikes again

  4. Cool set up! Although I think I'll stick with my electric convenience, thank you. ;0D

  5. Ed, ha! I suppose we all become so accustomed to our own lifestyle, that any other is a puzzle. When I homeschooled, I had someone try to recruit me for a bunch of volunteer work at church. I told them I wouldn't be available until after 3 pm. They were quite miffed! If I'm home all day, then I must have loads of free time! NOT! ;)

    Annie, the plunger really does a good job, doesn't it? So does soaking in plain water. I'm impressed that you have soap nut trees! I would love to plant some of these if they'd grow in my area. Where did you get them?

    Daisy, I won't pretend that I don't use my electric washer and dryer for convenience or when we have a string of bad weather days. I just love having the options!

  6. Leigh,
    How do you keep your outdoor water tanks from freezing or are your “cold snaps” not long enough to worry about the issue.

  7. Leigh,

    Love your setup. I sent you a pic of my grandmother Miller doing laundry. She's using an old fashioned washboard & it looks like she had 3 tubs.

  8. Job well done! What a beautiful set up. Does the black paint keep the algae from growing in the rain water, and do you filter the water like you recently posted about on the Buck barn?

  9. I love this. I'd like to have this option, as a backup to my machine breaking down, electric down, or using it for small loads, super dirty duds, or just cause I wanted to do things the 'simple' and quiet way. I also love a clothes line.

  10. Oh, that reminded me of doing laundry as a kid, up to about 15. Had wringer washer that could be swung around to different tubs. Mama always rinsed things at least twice, sometimes more. Thank god for that wringer! Her setup was an enclosed shed because it was used year round and even then it was cold on NW Florida for outdoor washing.

  11. Oh, the washer was electric with the center dasher in the tub.

  12. H Mathews, good question. We live far enough south that the thermal mass of the water in the tank keeps it from freezing. We do get below freezing at night, but it warms up during the day so this has never bee a problem. (For us :)

    DFW, thank you! I just loved it. Those old photos are a treasure.

    Rosalea, yes, the dark paint keeps algae from growing. And yes, it's filtered the same way as the buck barn. It's very clear looking out of the tank.

    Joy, it is nice to have the backup. Dan uses it for really filthy clothes, like when he's been crawling around in the crawlspace. It takes a little more time, but really isn't a lot more work. As with all things, it's figuring out how to make it part of the routine.

    Sue, I like to rinse more than once too! I just never felt that the one rinse in the automatic washer was enough, and still leaves a residue of dirt and soap. I like the sound of your mom's set-up. And yes, the wringer really helps; hand wringing is a lot of work!

  13. Had to google soap nuts; I'd never heard of them! Do you have to keep them in a baggy?

  14. That plunger looks very much like my mom's poss stick, which had a copper head. I'm guessing much the same function. Very hard work for a big family like ours. She used shaved laundry soap that came in bricks. I can see liking this as an option rather than the only way. And I especially like using rainwater, soft and good for clothes. The folded towels there must smell great.

  15. I had a similar setup on my old homestead pre strokes. Now I'd have a very hard time hanging clothes on the line.

  16. I am very impressed Leigh. Is there an "average" time for a load of laundry, or is it driven by the items being washed?

  17. I used a James Washer for years (still have it "in case") and really liked it. It has a hand operated agitator that works much easier than any kind of plunger I've seen. I had a stool of the right height so I could sit, work the agitator and read at the same time. Where there's a will, there's a way!

  18. This made me look up how long since I've used a clothes dryer - 12 years.

    I like how your tub stand is set up to the optimum height. Also unfamiliar with soap nuts.

  19. Marleen, thanks!

    Michelle, do you mean the little bag in the photo? The cotton bag came in the box of soap nuts, with instructions to add 3 or 4 nuts and pop it into the washer with each load. I think this works really well because I find the bag when I hang up the laundry. Otherwise, I'd have to find loose soap nuts in the load! They last a long time and eventually dissolve to nothing.

    Boud, the only time I've shaved laundry soap is to make DIY laundry detergent. These are much easier!

    Jo, thank goodness for modern appliances!

    TB, I'd say 10 to 20 minutes agitation, depending on how dirty the item is. I also have a washboard for scrubbing really dirty areas. Number of rinses is up to the laundry washer. I like to do two, and I like to run them through the wringer at least twice too. But I admit that I'm pretty relaxed about the whole thing. Water is an excellent solvent, so I like to let dirty items soak. I might work the plunger for a few minutes, go do something else for awhile, come back and plunge some more. Mentally, it's laundry day, so that's the task at hand. I still use my electric washer, though, especially when it's cold out.

    Mama Pea, I used to want one of those! But they've gotten pretty pricey, so I settled for this. I'm not dissatisfied with the set-up though, and enjoy the time outdoors.

    Tpals, my clothes dryer rarely gets used! Only when it's raining and we run out of underwear. :)

  20. Soap Nuts. Never heard of them. Must look those up.

  21. Leigh, the plunger and wringer, are they a "store" bought items or were they hand made? I really like that idea of washing clothes and not using electricity. On whites, do you use some type of bleaching agent? Like most people here I never heard of "soap nuts" a treasure hunt ensues...

  22. Leigh, while looking up soap nuts came across these for tough washing, do you use them also? vinegar for tough stains, lemon juice, sodium percarbonate?

  23. The soap nut trees came from David the good. He used to live near me. As I recall, they are good to zone 8a\b, depending on the microclimate. I bought 3-4 plants a foot or so tall an planted them in the same hole. In 2016 I think. They are about 7-8' now, an flowered last year, for the first time, giving about 3/4 of a quart cup of nuts. Ill see if I can sprout some.

  24. And for anyone that finds themselves with a broke down washer, an/or no means to go do laundry, a regular toilet plunger an a couple 5gal buckets works surprisingly well.

  25. RT, they're fairly new on my radar as well, but I find they work just as well as laundry detergent. The additional pluses are only cardboard to discard when their done. The package says a 20-ounce box equals over 300 wash loads. I believe it!

    Kevin, we bought them, although they could be made or thrifted. The plunger I bought for Y2K and just kept it all these years. I looed for a 2nd-hand wringer, but all I could find were overpriced "antiques," so we bought one new. Here are the links to these items, so folks can take a better look.
    Magic Washberry soap nuts
    Breathing washer plunger
    clothes wringer.

    I have several resources for natural cleaning products. I'll have to get a blog post up soon!

    Annie, thank you for the resource! I've visited David the Good's website. Gosh, that's actually a pretty good harvest for soap nuts! They can be used until they simply dissolve, and they seem to last through a lot of wash loads. Great idea for the plunger!

  26. A lot of work - but one of the most wonderful smells in the world is that of sun-dried laundry!

  27. I have fond memories of the first 15 years of my life is in a ringer washing machine in the garage and getting my bum tanned verbally by my mother for not being careful and running my father’s dress shirts through the ringer and crack in the buttons.

    I also got a scolding because when I was first learning how to iron and my mother started me I don’t know why, on my father’s dress shirts? I multiple times set the iron down on the shirt when they weren’t quite as technical as they are now I guess and the temperature was either blazing hot or nonexistent. And there were a couple work shirts that became yard work quality. All with a ugly constant reminder of my lack of ironing proficiency in the shape of a HOT iron left too long in one place. 🤪

  28. Susan, I can't say it's a lot of work, just more time consuming. So I only wash laundry outdoors if I have the time! I'm better about line drying everything after it's washed.

    Goatldi, now, that is curious that your mother taught you to iron on your father's dress shirts! She must have hated ironing!

  29. I have a wringer washer- electric and was just asked if I was saving it to plant flowers in 😂. I said No (horror) that it works. He said his mom used one of those years ago and it was a lot of work. I told him they work far better than new ones and he agreed. I also have a 2 tub with manual wringer- we could be great neighbors hanging clothes chatting over the garden gate 😁

  30. Lady Locust, good for you!

    I always find it curious when people say doing laundry like this is "a lot of work." It's work, but with a wringer, it's not hard work, it just takes time. I too, think it does a better job, especially when you can rinse until actually clean. One rinse cycle doesn't really do it for dirty work chothes.

  31. That's so cool, Leigh! Good job - that's a lot of work, but so rewarding.


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