Homecraft Happiness: Half a Washer

For less than half the cost of a modern washing machine, you can set yourself up with a ‘just in case’ model. Years ago, when my kids were small, our washer died. Being a young broke family we couldn’t just run out and buy another. And we weren’t about to go into debt for one. My solution? I bought my first washboard and washed clothes by hand, twisted them out (getting hubby’s help with towels and jeans) and hung them dry on my large (and until then largely unused) clothes line. I “paid” myself for every load of laundry I did. I figured I would have come up with the money for a laundry mat, so why not pay me, not them? I put 2.00 in a jar for every load. (In reality, I kept track of how many loads I did and put that amount in a jar every payday.)

Thank heavens it was summer when this happened. The end of May, all of June and all of July I scrubbed away, thankful my kids were little and so were their clothes. Into August I had finally saved enough for a new Roper washing machine. I still say Roper’s are the best darn machines made. Plain, simple no frills and lasted me the rest of the kids childhood. I remember it costing around 220.00 new. I only recently had  to retire it and stupidly bought a used “fancy” model,  which is already giving me problems. It’s behind me, bouncing and clanging away as we speak. (Washer One you are cleared for take-off)  I desperately want to put it out of its misery. But until it dies or absolutely blows up, I won’t.

But I digress. Back to the emergency washer. When my washer goes, I don’t expect to have to wait to buy another. But one never knows. Power outages, shipping delays or simply Murphy’s Law (That little bastard loves me) and I could find myself without a way to wash my clothes. Traditionally.

Here’s a great method I found that is easier than a washboard. Take a five gallon bucket and drill a hole in the lid big enough for a toilet plunger. (New plunger, please.)

That’s it.

Fill half way with hot water, or any water, toss in clothes, detergent and the plunger, put the lid down over the plunger and put the kids to work. Plunge for about ten minutes. (twenty if they've been mouthy) You can leave the lid off if you want, but it’s messier.

Finish by draining and adding clean water for a rinse, then run through a wringer, which really cuts down on hang drying time.

You can find them at Lehman’s Amish store online. Here’s the link to order.


At 169.00 it’s the most expensive piece. Of course you can do without it but this makes the job so much easier and you'll avoid blisters.

I don’t have any pictures of me washing clothes this way but I still do it from time to time when the weather is nice, just for fun. It’s monotonous and the water sloshing is rather hypnotic. Gives me time to think.

It’s astounding the deep thoughts you can have, the far off places your mind can wander when you’re diligently plunging undies in a bucket.