We are a cloth diapering family, and for the most part, we love it.  It has saved us a TON of money.  I love the fact that it generates far less waste and disgustingness to deal with than disposables.  For information about this, click here.  And while I do have the inconvenience of doing diaper laundry, I also love that I never really run out of diapers.

Every cloth diapering mama knows that an HE washer, especially of the  front loading variety is the worst invention in the recent history of laundry.  I have heard tell of women who literally stared into their HE washing machine to see what was happening in there, only to pull clothes out of their washer that the water had yet to even make contact with.  It’s bad, folks.  So when my parents gave us an old school Kenmore top loading, regular ol’, honest-to-goodness washing machine, I jumped at the chance.

My husband was less excited.  Why would we want to use this old piece of junk instead of our nice HE front loader that we bought with a set when we were first married?  It’s far newer, less junky and dingy looking, and it had fewer… quirks, shall we call them?  After having to find some workarounds to effectively use the machine, (thank goodness for the internet…)

I was ecstatic.  The new (old) washing machine combined with a detergent switch to Tide Original had worked wonders on my diapers.  They were smelling the freshest and cleanest they had been in over a year.  I had been at the end of my rope, and my standards for diaper cleanliness had sunken quite low.  No more ammonia, no more funky or skunky smell, no more rashes and burns on my sweet babies, no more strange, lingering odors in the PUL.  (For the record, I would recommend Tide Original to any cloth diaperer, provided your child doesn’t have a sensitivity to it, as mine did for over a year.  Even then, I would try Tide Free & Clear over All Free & Clear or ANY “cloth diaper safe” detergent.  They take a lot of work to make them work, if you get my drift.  While I may post about this in the future you can see this blog for information on using Tide and solving diaper laundry issues).

My excitement was short lived, however, as a month in to using my washer and new laundry routine, the lid switch on my machine gave up the ghost, and the new one won’t be in for a week.  We have put cloth diapering on hold for the moment, and I am completely discouraging any frivolous laundry usage.  I got out my galoshes and rubber gloves, and we are using the old bathtub laundry technique.

Let me tell you, friends, I certainly miss my washing machine after handwashing ONE load of clothes.

I heard someone once say that research had been done, and the only modern appliance that has legitimately saved the American family time is the microwave oven.  Everything else has simply allowed us to be less conservative with time and resources.  

An example of this is that when I find a piece of clothing on the floor and am unsure if it is clean or dirty, I assume it is dirty and throw it in the laundry hamper.  This would absolutely not be the case if I were handwashing my family’s laundry.  My definition of ‘clean’ would radically change to something more like what it was when I had to haul it up and down 3 flights of stairs and across a street to pay to do my laundry in a laundromat.  I recently told my Facebook friends that if I had to handwash my laundry daily, my family would just go naked.  

It got me thinking legitimately… How did the pioneer woman do it???  She had SO many things to do, between growing and storing food, making her family’s clothing, and of course the dreaded task of laundry.  I would be interested to read one of her blog posts about laundry without a washing machine.  Oh, that’s right.  She didn’t have time to write blog posts.  She was too busy handwashing laundry.  But I would ask her how to make it a) non back-breaking, and b) somewhat time efficient.  Surely, doing it in a river would be far better than doing it in a bathtub.  Your rinses would be infinitely faster and easier.  And like most people did in college, we would wear and rewear our clothes until a garment has either a visible stain or a malodorous smell coming from it.  Even then, we would just wear that layer at the bottom and hope that the smell might not come wafting out in the tight quarters of an elevator or crowded bus.  (Please tell me I’m not alone…)  I completely get why pets were generally not allowed in the house in those days.  They generate so. much. laundry.  From urinating on the rug to muddy paws, few days go by when I don’t use a rag to clean up after my pets in one way or another.  Not to mention how impossible it would be to get pet hair off of clothes without a modern washer and dryer.  Nope.  The pets would have to live outside full time.

Dirtydiaperlaundry.com does an annual Flats Challenge, in which participants are supposed to use flat diapers and handwash them for a week.  I’ve never participated, but I’m sort of being forced into it this week.  My only problem is that I don’t have flats!

Bottom line:

Would I handwash if I had to?
Of course I would.  We all would.

Would I still use cloth?
Yes.  I would just find a more efficient way to do this laundry.

Will I kiss my washing machine once I get it up and running?
You betcha!