Be honest, when was it the last time you've hugged your washing machine?? What, never?! Go.Do it.Now!! I can tell you, I miss mine terribly... It would be a luxury to have one on board and I appreciated it endlessly, sigh. Fact is, I had to find another solution.
There are three ways to wash clothes for a cruiser (without a machine on board):
First: you bring it to a laundry lady. Sounds convenient. It should be! But there is usually a drawback. Either the clothes aren't clean despite their vanilla scent that almost makes you faint. Or they are clean but smell just awful. And it's usually the most expensive way.
Secondly: you schlepp the bags of laundry to a do-it-yourself-laundry. If you're lucky the machines are in an OK condition and may even add water to the rinse circle. But I'm still not convinced that the clothes should be clean after 20 min of washing, let alone be dry after 10!? OK, there is still the possibility to schlepp the wet laundry (now double of weight!) back to the boat and hang it up to dry.
Thirdly: wash it all by yourself. Yes, you heard right - the oldfashioned way of doing laundry in a bucket.
I refused to try this for a long time. I mean, I'm a modern time girl and used to push a button to get clean clothes! The hardest work was to fold them. BUT, after half a year of disappointing attempts with No. 1 and 2 I decided to give No. 3 a try. And after some experimenting, I think that's the way to go! I'd already researched in the web and talked to fellow cruisers about their methods. One remedy mentioned most often was "Ammonia", the ordinary houshold cleaner with the pungent odor. Never, ever try to smell on the bottle - it can make you cry. And a real NO GO is to mix it with bleach - a potentially deadly gas can be the result (a chemical weapon commonly used in WWI). Hydrazine can be another unhappy result (one chemical used in rocket fuel - very explosive.) But it's not my intention to die while I'm blowing up my linen!
So this is how I do it:
Put the laundry in a bucket, cover it with water (warm or hot if available but cold water works as fine) and pour in 1 cup of Ammonia.
Mix it with a toilet plunger and let stay for 30min.
Pour in just a little of your normal detergent (Again: make sure it contains NO BLEACH), mix and let stay for another 10 to 15min.
Wring out clothes, empty bucket, put clothes back and cover with fresh water - Rinse. May have to be repeated.
Wring out clothes again and hang them out to dry.
removes traces of sweat and body fat, nice smell, bright colors, cheap
doesn't remove stains, I usually pretreat them with bile soap
I'm quite happy with the result! Despite that it's hard work it somehow is an exercise aswell - just try to wring out 3 loads of laundry and you'll know what I'm talking about...
With love from paradise