Monday, August 22, 2011

Laundry Day!

Living without a washer/dryer isn't always easy, especially here in the tropics where you literally sweat completely through your clothes on a daily (if not hourly) basis.  Laundry is one of those chores I have always loved to do - there's something that feels so good about having all your clothes clean and fresh-smelling.  Unfortunately, do-it-yourself laundry facilities are few and far between down in these parts and typically, if you want your laundry done you must take it to a service (usually a one-woman show) where they charge you anywhere from $12-$20 dollars a load....unless, of course, you do it by yourself.

I've done the bucket method on several occasions, each time with little success.  I've either used too much detergent, didn't rinse well or failed to scrub enough and these forays almost always ended with a trip to the laundry lady anyway.  After a particularly expensive load that included towels and sheets, I decided things had to change.  And that, my friends, is when I discovered laundering with ammonia...

"Ammonia?!" you ask.  Yes.  Ammonia.  Stinky, smelly, ammonia.
Ammonia is a mystery to some...and a trusted laundry aid to others. It smells horrible, but leaves your laundry smelling fresh and clean. It seems like it should eat through fabric, but is gentle enough for delicates and can even be used on silk if diluted properly, and is safe for colored clothes.

(Read more: How to Use Ammonia in the Laundry |
Here's what I do:
  1.  Fill one (or two, depending on size of load) bucket(s) with a mixture of 2/3 water, 1/3 (non-sudsy) ammonia.
  2.  Put laundry into the bucket(s)
  3.  Agitate the laundry with mini-toilet plunger (used ONLY for laundry)
  4.  Let clothes sit in the solution for 30 minutes
  5.  Add a tiny bit of regular detergent and use plunger to agitate again for 15 minutes or so
  6.  Empty bucket - fill with fresh water and rinse (beauty of ammonia is that it rinses easily with less water)
  7.  Repeat rinse cycle if necessary
  8.  Ring out clothes very well (this, in turn, is a surprisingly good arm workout!)
  9.  Hang to dry in the hot, tropical sun
  10.  1 hour later you are good to go!
My laundering fixings; two buckets, ammonia, a mini plunger and a hand scrubber.

I am thrilled with the results of the ammonia.  Not only is it super cheap, but it rinses easily and left our clothes super clean and smelling great (not like ammonia at all).

What are your fool proof laundry tricks?


polomintciti said...

Give one of these a try:

Windtraveler said...

Thanks Polo - but I'm afraid we don't even have room for that little thing! Buckets and plungers it is for us...until we get a bigger boat!

Neophyte Cruiser said...

Great tip on using ammonia for laundry. Did you get much weather from Irene in Grenada? Yours remains an entertaining blog. Thanks.

Windtraveler said...

Hey Neophyte!! Thanks! Nope, we got nothing but some rain from Irene - she passed WAY north of us. :)

Anonymous said...

Be sure to use two clips per garment, or three if you have them. One day that afternoon wind comes up and clothes seem to disappear..

Dawn Ireland said...

Thanks for the tip, adding it to my list, for when we sail away next year... getting closer....... :-)

Sabrina and Tom said...

Stupid question - when you pour out the used ammonia water do you have to be careful where you dump it? Down the galley sink? Does it hurt marine life?

Sabrina & Tom
s/v Honey Ryder Caliber 40 LRC

Windtraveler said...

Sabrina - from what I understand, ammonia is already present in the ocean and such a small quantity as used for laundry isn't detrimental. But I'm not 100% sure.

Anonymous said...

Ammonia readily dissolves/dilutes in water, and is present in any water that fish breathe in (most of it comes out their gills). While a high concentration of ammonia can cause fish problems, it should dilute so fast that no problems should arise.


Anonymous said...

Ammonia's Impact on Marine Life and Your Aquarium

Anonymous said...

These might be better ?:

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Great info! I've heard others say that they also are very pleased with using ammonia to do laundry. We'll give a try once we're out there and your post will be a great reference. Thanks!

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