Monday, July 16, 2012

Diana's Household Diaries " Laundry, Pain or Pleasure "

It's pleasure for me. Well most of the time it is. Laundry is just one of those chores that doesn't bother me. It doesn't hurt that we have modern appliances in which to do it with either!!
My earliest memories of laundry was of a wringer washer my mother used when I was very young. We were living in a two-story brick apartment building in Chicago. My mom, myself and my brother. There was a wringer washer in the basement to which my mother would always warn me to stay away from. I guess mom didn't like using it much as after a time we would walk several blocks to the laundromat to do our weekly laundry. Mom and I taking turns pulling our wheeled cart back and forth to the laundromat. It was always so hot in there. Air conditioning wasn't as common place as it is now. While at this laundromat I remember a time when my eyes started burning and then we started coughing. There was an awful smell and then we realized one of the dryers was on fire! At least it wasn't filled with our clothes!
It wasn't long after that when mom received a new washer dryer pair from my soon to be stepfather. I'll bet I have that photo around here somewhere. I can still see the excitement on her face from that day. I'm sure she was tickled not to have to make the six block walk back and forth with my brother and I in tow anymore. 

After I was married to my first husband, we lived in another apartment complex in the suburbs of Chicago. Schiller Park to be exact. This apartment building had a washer/dryer combo in the basement that was shared by the residents. I didn't mind doing my own laundry but there was this one older gentleman tenant that kept telling me that I wasn't cleaning the lint screen of the dryer properly. Well I really thought I was doing it right but apparently you must pick off every individual speck of lint that remained on the screen. I tried to appease him but I just never did it good enough for him so I would just apologize!  
While living in that apartment, I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child. My son Frank. I was 19 and so, so excited. This would lead to my most exciting laundry experience ever. It came after my baby shower.

I received many new baby clothes. Teeny, tiny, adorable baby clothes. My mother told me that I had to wash them before the new baby would wear them. Really? I had no idea. I was 19. I had no idea about anything. So I bought some Ivory Snow. Mom had to tell me about that too. Then I washed all of the teeny, tiny, adorable baby clothes about three months before the baby was due. I can vividly remember folding each little item, in awe of the tiny details. I know it must sound silly, but I was in heaven! The clothes were now all ready for the new arrival, as was I.

After Frank was born we moved into another apartment. That is when I got my very own washer and dryer. They were Maytags. I still have Maytags only the set I have now are much newer. This is the exact pair that I have now.

 When I was ready to purchase the new set I seriously researched the newer HE (High Efficiency) machines. I was so, so close to purchasing an HE set but I didn't like what I was reading about them. My husband was leaving this decision up to me. I also talked to our repairman about them. It was after that when I decided to go with the traditional models above. They are more efficient than the older models, they just aren't, supposedly as efficient as the HE models.

I won't tell you the reasons that I decided against the HE models as I wouldn't want to deter someone from purchasing them if that's what they really wanted. But I will tell you that I made the right choice as our house is 65 years old and so is most of our plumbing. As it turned out, our old plumbing couldn't have handled the type of water pressure needed for the new machine. We ended up having to put in a wash tub to handle the pressure of the new machine we did buy!! I am very happy with them. They wash and dry much better than my old one's did.

I have recently tried something that I learned about on the local news station a few weeks back. Most of you may already know about this but I didn't so I gave it a try. I made my own homemade laundry soap. It saves quite a bit of money. I was so sick of the skyrockting laundry soap prices, I thought " Why not give it a try?". So far I can honestly say that it works very, very well. It takes a only a few ingredients to yield about four quarts dry. You can make it liquid if you wish but I went with the powdered, it was easier. You only need two TEASPOONS, yes TEASPOONS, per load. It cleans very well and doesn't leave a scent on the clothes which is good in my house as my husband is allergic to many scented products. I read that you can scent it if you like. You can Google it if interested in more info that I am giving you here. There are a few different recipes, the one I chose was fairly easy. This is what you will need...

 6 - Bars of Fels-Naptha soap. (The photo shows 3 but you will need 6)
3- Cups Arm & Hammer Washing Soap
3- Cups of Borax
If you have hard water, add a 2-lb. box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
Finely grate the Fels-Naptha into a bucket. This is much easier if you have a teen or two around your house! Add the remaining ingredients , mix well.
I had a five quart ice cream tub that I used for the soap. I didn't need the baking soda so you may need a larger container if you have hard water and need to use the baking soda.
Use 2- teaspoons per load.

I am guessing this soap will last several months for me. The total cost was around $14.00. I found all of the ingredients at Wal-Mart, where else right? Our clothes come out softer and cleaner then they did with the store bought detergent. I can only imagine the dollars this is saving our family. We do about 6 to 7 loads a week.

It's also very important to clean your washer on a regular basis. I clean mine once a month with a cup of bleach and hot water. Follow your manufacturers directions for proper cleaning. I have also used "Afresh" washing machine cleaner tablets but found that the bleach actually worked better. Cleaning your machine regularly is very important as it prevents mold and mildew build-up which and be a hazard to your health and once let to sit too long, can be very difficult to get rid of. There is always excess water that sits in the tub of your machine weather you see it or not.

I also love hanging my clothes outside on a clothesline. I had to do this for a few years when we lived in a house that didn't have a natural gas line for my dryer. I suppose we could have converted it but we chose to hang them outside. The smell of towels, sheets and clothing hung outside, well, nothing beats it !! I would like to buy one of those big clothes hanging thingy's for my yard. I don't really have anything proper to attach clothesline to. I can only imagine how quickly our clothes would have dried in that 100 plus degree weather we had!!!

Now, I have almost covered any and all of my thoughts and knowledge about laundry here. Lets face it, most of you know the basics, it ain't rocket science!! But I haven't told you the one thing that I hate about laundry. I don't mind washing it. I don't mind drying it. I don't mind folding it. The part that I absolutely dislike is putting it away. So if you are fortunate enough to have someone that does laundry for you, unless you pay them, put your own clean clothes away, please!!!

Choose your subject !! Let me know what household subject you would like me to post about. I will choose a majority choice. If there isn't a majority, I will pick a random subject from your suggestions. This could be fun. I don't know everything you know!! But I will do my best. I will post what I know about the subject, if anything, next Monday.

Thanks for reading Diana's Household Diaries!!


Anne said...

I do remember how wringer washer and put rubber diapers through that wringer diapers and explodes and I ruined a couple of shirts
Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer?or ruined a couple of shirts?

Tell me the stories of you have,
the clothes you have washed with wringer washer

Debbie said...

Diana, I really enjoyed reading this post. I could relate to much of your experiences, only I was at the opposite end of the map in Texas! You want to talk HOT? I had to laugh about your stepdad's gift to your mom. What a deal maker! I too looked at HE front loaders and decided to stick with the less expensive and less impressive 'same old' maytags which work in my old house. Good choice. I have been making my detergent for some time and really love it. I use your ingredients but sometime use ZOTE because it's pink and smell better than Fels. However, I use a Fels bar to get out stains. It's wonderful!
I have no room for a clothsline, tho it would be an advantage.
How do you feel about dusting?

Diana said...

Two suggestions already!! First I would have to eliminate the wringer washer as I wasn't allowed near it!!!
Dusting,that's an interesting subject.
Lets wait and see what the majority says.
Thanks for visiting Anne and Debbie!!
Love Di ♥

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I have a friend who started making her own detergent last week and she is loving it too!

I have HE machines and I like them but they're a little noisy and I hate having to leave the doors open all day to make sure the washer's rubber seal thoroughly dries out. But I don't want to take chances on mildew building up in there.

I used to live in the burbs of Chicago - Schaumburg.

Diana said...

Hi Liz!
I remember Schaumburg very well. Used to go shopping there. I hear it's changed quite a bit since I've been up there, at least twenty years ago!
Thanks for visiting!
Love Di ♥

Wanda..... said...

Washing clothes is fairly simple compared to how it was done by our grandparents. I have a pulley system clothes line from my second story deck over to a tree...stand in one spot and send it out, laundry dries high in the air. My mother once had a sheet destroyed on the clothes our puppy and another dog tugging at opposite ends.

Sandi said...

Oh Di, I had to laugh at the subjet matter! I don't mind throwing clothes in the washer, or dryer, but it's the folding and putting away that get to me! I have a load ready to fold . . . not getting done, and a load already folded on the back of the couch (I can see it all from where I am sitting!) not getting put away! Oh, I'll do it just as soon as I get up!

I don't have much laundry anymore, except summers when one or more of girls are home. No one here at the moment, so I just wash a couple times a week. I am still kind of interested in the homemade laundry detergent. But, it would last me for years!

I thought about you when I was washing dishes this weekend!

Oh, tell us about dusting . . . something I rarely do!

Hugs! Sandi

Diana said...

Hi Wanda! I remember those pulley systems when I was a kid growing up in Chicago. Lots of older apartments had them. Sadly there's nothing I can hang one to from my upstairs window and that would require going from the basement to the second floor, not really worth it!!
Love Di ♥

Diana said...

Hi Sandi,
I also still have a load in the dryer waiting to be folded. My grandson is visiting so I'll get to it later.
Dusting, Mmmm... I may have a story or two about that!!
Love Di ♥

Anvilcloud said...

At first, I thought you were going to tell me that you got your hand caught in the wringer washer.

Dee said...

We had a wringer washer when I was growing mom ran her hand through the wringer one time by accident and it was a bloody mess.
I remember her hands being cold and wet each laundry day. I am at an age I have to have a washer and dryer...I like to put stuff away but do not like folding.

Barb said...

I remember helping my mom with the wringer washer - she'd feed the sheets in and I'd pull them through. My Imana washer/dryer here in the mts are 18 years old and on their last breath. I dread researching a replacement. Bob helps with the laundry and unless we have the Grandkids staying with us, we don't have too much. Any tips on cleaning the grout on a tile floor? (Besides getting down on hands and knees with cleanser...)?

Eileen said...

I love hanging clothes on the line! We used to have a pulley system out back (my Mom had one of those open/umbrella type lines when I was little), but when we got our pool I lost my clothes line.
I don't love doing wash, but I don't mind it, I just wish my machines weren't in the basement, well, it's not a basement really, it's not finished nice, it's more of a cellar. Yuck! I'd love to have machines up near the bedrooms on the second floor!
This is going to sound weird but I like to WATCH my wash! That's why I hate our new "efficient" machine, if I lift the lid, the water level goes to the highest level, even if the load is very tiny, the machine actually came with an admonishment ~ DO NOT LIFT LID ~ I hate that! I'm always forgetting something and want to quick throw it in, and now I can't. Plus, now I can't watch my wash. I love watching the water fill up, making sure the machine starts agitating. No more though. Now it's just another chore.

I did have to use the laundromat when my boys were little, and at the time I was watching my nephew too. I used to put all three boys in a double stroller, and then put all the laundry bags in a shopping cart and schlep everything five blocks to the laundry, and those poor little toddlers were SO GOOD, they behaved while I washed, dried, and folded loads of laundry.

Okay, about chores, please tell me ALL your cleaning hints. Such as, what's your routine? Do you do certain chores on certain days? Do you do every chore everyday? When you dust do you dust everything (knick knacks, lamps, ceiling fans/lights), or do you only dust certain things on certain days? When you vacuum do you move furniture each time? Do you vacuum every day?
I have absolutely NO ROUTINE, I just do whatever chore I feel like on any given day. I would so much like to get into more of a routine though.

Eileen said...

PS ~ I forgot to say that I thought your comment to me about posting pictures of our grandparents on Grandparents Day was a wonderful idea! I looked it up and this year Grandparents Day falls on September 9.
Love you!, E

Anonymous said...

mom and I both had wringer washers...I like basic w/d combos!

Margaret Pangert said...

Diana, I can't believe the new look to your blog! It's like a fairyland! Stunning! And I love your "Dear Heloise" solutions to everyday household problems--definitely worth keeping a journal. You really bring me back to my youth... Love, Margaret

Bonny said...

I make my own laundry soap as well. I LOVE it! I make the liquid version though. It makes about 6 gallons but I have also used the homemade powder too. I will never buy comercial soap again! I love the household diaries!
What about a favorite meal? Or canning? Or garden tips? Personally...I hate dusting and try to refrain from doing it as much as possible. I usually make it a punishment for one of the boys when they have got in trouble. :)

Diana said...

Hi Bonny,
It sounds like it's going to be dusting! Now all I have to do is figure out how to make it sound interesting!!
Love Di ♥

Jacquelyn Stager said...

Do I still need to wash my washer since I used it just about every day for several loads? Really, it never sits idle for long! I've been hanging the laundry out as much as possible, especially THIS year with the extreme heat we've had! I bought all the stuff to make my own laundry soap but I decided it was too much of a hassle. I do add either Borax or washing soda to my loads though, and I use Fels Naptha as a pre-wash on stains. Works wonders, especially on the children's things.