Monday, April 13, 2015

How I wash my cloths on board

You who live on land, have you ever know exactly how many water you use each day or how many liters of water your washing machine consume? Don't worry, even me living on a sail boat, just found out recently. Our situation is better now that we have enough power to let the water maker working more hours each day. Our water maker does 6 liters per hour. I need 60 liters (3 jerry cans) to wash mine, Joao's and Maria Dee's cloths with 3 towels and two set of bedding. We used sea water to wash the first water before, rinse first with sea water and then last with fresh water with softener. Then Maria Dee got a heat rash and we are not sure if it was because of the hot weather or the salt that may be left on her cloths, so we stop doing it and start washing only with fresh water. 

I always make a big quantity of cloths and wash every 10-14 days. I tried to wash little by little but I think I spent more water than wash everything at once. And this way I can also save some time and energy. 

The “tools” to wash cloths on a sailing boat are more complicate than washing with washing machine at home. I use a big ice box (which has a broken lock and doesn't keep cold anymore) to soak the dirty cloths. For the soaking process I usually use, at least, one full jerry can of water (20 liters / 5 gallons). Then I have 2 small buckets to rinse, one for water rinse and another for the last softener rinse. Due to the small size of the buckets the water gets foamy easily. If it happens I will put the foamy rinse water into the soaking bucket (the ice box) and replace it with clean fresh water. By doing so, I have more quantity of  remaining water to soak the dirty color cloths. 

First I soak white color cloths with liquid detergent and bleach. They are mostly baby's cloths. Because I don't have big baskets to bring the wet cloths to hang I wash and rinse little quantities at a time. When I finish washing white color cloths then I will use the water from soaking and rinse by adding detergent to wash the color cloths. And if I have kitchen towels, Noel's towel or carpets I will do it in last with the water that I have left.

Do I have any problem?
The answer is YES. There are many!
In the beginning I had a lots of color transfer problems because of lack of experience. After awhile I got used to it.  I learn from my mistakes and now I wash separately the new garments or strong color fabrics to avoid color transfer. 

Sometimes, I use too much bleach too! Many of my lingerie and garments were damaged. Also many times I changed Maria Dee's cloths from pink to white!  Now just add a little amount and I will see if need to add more. I always buy the cheapest bleach on the supermarket. They are just the same, so why buy more expensive? Sometimes, a new product will advertise that it can be used on white and color fabric without ruin or change the original color. If you know how to use it and use the right quantity, it helps to save some money while sailing.  

Stains are my biggest problem. I always scream to anyone who eat chocolate and make their cloths dirty. Chocolate is the most difficult stain for me to wash. I purchased some products to apply before washing the cloths but none of them works. From my experience, if it stains, wash the cloth immediately. The stain seems to come out easier than if left waiting for long time. 

Have you ever imagine to wash a shower towel or bed sheets by hand?
We had huge shower towels which were silky and soft but my back got hurt every time I wash them and I couldn't squeeze the excess water. I solved the problem by cutting them into half! They are still big enough to be a bath size and I'm able to wash them by hand. For bedding, I soak them when I start washing the cloths and they are the last piece that I rinse so they have enough soaking time to remove any stain if needed. While I wash others pieces I move the bed sheets to make the same move like in the washing machine. It's not only the problem of washing the bed sheets, it's also to hang! I already lost 2 bed sheets and 3 pillows covers due to the wind. When it's windy I must put more clips!

Liquid VS powder detergent
It depends on how you prefer. I start living on board by using powder detergent because that's what I used on land but I found that it's more difficult to handle. They tend to get wet if in contact with water, need more space to store (which is premium on sailing boat) and messy to use on a windy day. So I end up using liquid detergent. To store, I keep the 1 litter bottle of water or juice and refill them with the liquid detergent that I bought in big sizes. I do the same with bleach.
I found that in America and the Caribbean islands the liquid detergent are easy to find with reasonable price but in Asia, where I came from, liquid detergent is not common and the powder are cheaper.   

The last and the least problem are my hands! I couldn't have smooth hands like before even I apply hand cream after I wash the cloths or anytime I remember. But soft hands are not a good friend of sailors who need hands to pull cables, pushing stuff and cleaning the galley. I wish one day I can afford the money, space and power to have a washing machine on board as its one of my dream item on s/v Dee.


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