Farmgirl School

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -Tolkien

Introducing my new…old…handy dandy double tub clothes washer!


Let’s back up about three years….”This washer sucks.  It doesn’t even clean anything!”  “That’s cause it’s old,” he replied.  It was old.  It was older than the house we were in.  But I didn’t know any other option.

Two years ago my good friend Steve had a washer from his son that he needed to get rid of.  His son suddenly moved to California and it was a brand, spankin’ new washer, only used twice.  We bartered for lots of medicine and I brought it home.

A year ago…”This washer sucks.  It doesn’t even get the clothes clean!”  “That’s cause it’s old,” he replies again.  “No, it’s not!”  This led me to the conclusion that I should never have clean clothing again. I switched soaps, I used less clothing in the washer, I tried everything, but no conventional washer was keeping up with us!

Last summer the antique shop next to my shop had this handy dandy, sparkling, two tub washer sitting out in front.  I whistled at it. (I can’t really whistle, it sounds like a bit of air escaping my lips.)  It didn’t have a speck of rust on it and it had two faucets on the bottom to drain the tubs.  She wanted a hundred and fifty dollars for the beauty.  I offered her a neat hundred dollar bill and promised to use the washer well.  She said she would only take the lowered price because she knew I wouldn’t make it into a flower pot.  (You will note most washers have become darling displays of pansies.)

The beauty came home…and sat outside.  Lord, I didn’t know what to do with it!  I wondered if I was tough enough stuff for this pioneering bit.  I filled it with hose water and soap and set five articles of clothing in it.  I used my new clothes plunger and washed the clothes.  The new wringer promptly broke so I hand wrung each item.  My hands started cramping and I hung the clothes on the line dripping as if I just hit them with hose.  “I sure hope I can do this with more clothes,” I thought, as I nursed the cramp in my hand.  We sent the wringer back to Lehman’s.  The plunger was amazing.  My clothes, when they did dry, were glistening clean.


Then the “real” washer broke.  Oh it went out in glory….tub full of dirty water and it just died.  We had to drag the five thousand pound washer after hand ladling water out of it to the porch.  The thought of bringing in yet another energy, water sucker that doesn’t clean clothes and would cost a pretty penny annoyed me and I brought in my new washer.  The handy dandy double tub cleaner that has probably cleaned clothing like a charm for a hundred years stood proudly where the washer had been.  Another friend was moving and had a broken wringer washer but the wringer part still worked.  We bartered horse medicine and brought the monster home and set it up next to the tub.  I could place the laundry basket on the washer and use the wringer over the tubs.  It was slow going and the clothes were still dripping.  In case you don’t know yet, I am not exactly known for patience.  So, I started hand wringing the water out of the clothes.  I got through a load this time before my hand started spasming.  (Amazing what muscles we don’t use!) I proudly hung the clothes on the line.  The clothes were clean, people, CLEAN!  I think I heard angels sing or something or maybe it was just the chickens.


Now I have a good set up going.  I do two loads at a time.  The washer hoses are hung on the washer with clips and I fill the first tub with hot soapy water.  The second tub gets cold water.  I place the clothes in the first tub, plunger them ten times.  Go make bread or check my email.  Plunger them ten times.  Wring out, place in cold water.  It is all rather methodical and peaceful and I get time to stand in one place and think.  The rinse gets wrung out, thrown in the basket and placed on the line to drip dry.  If I didn’t keep wandering off, it would be done in one hour flat, all the laundry, from wash to line.  Sure beats the times I left the clothes in the washer on accident for three days just to find that the mildew smell is really tough to get out!  I get a bit of a workout and my clothes are clean.

I am not perfect though.  When I told my grandma that I hired someone to come in and clean my house every other week so that I had more time to hand wash clothes, she looked at me as though I might have lost it.  Farmgirls need a little help around the house, too!

Great Laundry Soap (works for regular washers too)

1/4 cup of borax

1/4 cup of washing soda

1/4 cup of Dr. Bronner’s soap (a mixture of rose and almond is heavenly)

This does two loads in my washer.  Happy Washing!

9 thoughts on “The Handy Dandy Double Tub Washer (not a lick of rust)

  1. I remember helping my Grandma with her three tub plus wringer set up when I was a kid. The third tub added a second rinse and she could add bluing or bleach to the second tub for the whites. I remember it as being a lot of finger-wrinkling work, plus the wringer was murder on buttons. It was probably worse because the tubs were in the basement so we had to haul hot water down, then wet clothes up to hang on the line in the yard. I admire your tenacity.

    1. Katie says:

      No stairs here! Thank goodness. I don’t use the wringer anymore at all. I learned some quick tricks to wringing clothes fast. Three tubs…huh. I’d better stick with two! 🙂 They hook up to the water faucets where the washer would be. Makes it considerably easier!

  2. aumcchildren says:

    I’m going to keep my HE washer lol. I like it and they clean great. The dryer and I have an on off relationship. I have to use it in the winter because we have no place to hang inside. I’ll just picture you plunging away. Knowing me I’d plunge..go garden, get busy forget it till it was nighttime then try again the next day lol.

  3. kdlranch says:

    I laughed out loud, more than once, at your washing escapades! Tell me, what is Dr. Bonner’s soap, and where do you find it?

    1. Katie says:

      Dr. Bronner’s soap is a non-toxic, liquid soap that can used for everything! I get it at Vitamin Cottage.

  4. Reblogged this on sundaydinnerfarm and commented:
    Love the double tub washer!

    1. Katie says:

      Thank you so much!

      1. It didn’t show up right, so I’ll be re-doing it to make sure it credits back to your blog. I love your writing!

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