Washing Cloth Pads Without an Electric Washer
Washing cloth pads without an electric washer is something that would have been familiar to my Great Grandmother. Disposable products weren’t around when she was younger and I have fond memories of seeing her washboard, with many miles, out on display.
In fact, my Great Grandmother used to do all of her laundries by hand. It was washed by hand and placed outside on a line to dry or indoors by the coal stove in colder months. Once electric washers became available to households, she retired the washboard and started spending more time making pies and less time scrubbing.
Today, even with the availability of laundromats and home washing machines the need exists to wash pads by hand. Maybe you can’t or don’t want to haul pads to the laundromat, maybe you’re going camping, on a mission or to an area of the world without an electric washer in every house.
Luckily, there are still many ways to wash pads by hand and get them super clean. Possibly even cleaner than the washer!
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Because I was born and raised with an electric washer, I think it’s easy to forget that they’re a fairly new invention in the history of humanity. Humans have washed fabric by hand for more time than they have used washers and dryers.
The truth, you do not need an electric washer or dryer to wash cloth pads. You do need a bit of human power and time, dedication and determination.
Luckily, there are many different tools and techniques for washing cloth pads by hand, without electricity.
1.Washing Plunger + Bucket
If you have ever plunged a toilet this technique will be familiar to you. A washing plunger looks very similar to a toilet plunger except for the webbing on the bottom that allows air and water to work fabric until clean. For this method, you put pads into a bucket or large bowl with water and detergent and plunge. Depending on pad soiling, the water can be dumped and the process repeated. Finally, pads are rinsed with or without plunging until soap-free and hung to dry.
2. The Non-Electric Washing Machine
A more expensive option, and possibly less hands-on is the non-electric washer. Sold as a great device for campers, this mimics a washing machine on a smaller scale and instead of electricity, you provide the power. They vary in price and complexity and you can even get a large drier that looks like a giant salad spinner.
3. The Washing Board
The washing board is a tried and true method for washing just about anything. For this method, you can use the bathtub, a sink or basin. Pads get mixed with soap and water in the basin and scrubbed up on the board to remove blood. Water gets changed as needed and for rinsing.
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4. Washing by hand, with your hands
While the above devices are nice to have for convenience you can wash cloth pads with your own two hands. This method is how I typically start my pad washing routine for overnight and heavy day pads. I start by rinsing in cold water and I squish and squeeze with my hands until the water is fairly clear. Only then do I place them in the electric washing machine. Why? The truth is that my machine doesn’t get heavier soiled pads clean even with a double wash. There’s something about squeezing the pads that really gets them clean. I typically do this in a large basin I found about 10 years ago at TJ Maxx and I also use it as a wet storage bin for washcloths.
Drying cloth pads
I love hanging laundry out to dry in the warmer months. I have an outdoor clothesline and have spent years enjoying how white the sun gets our sheets and how well it removes stains from cloth diapers. This method is great for pads too.
During cooler months, or in areas where an outdoor line isn’t possible, there are many racks and ways to dry pads indoors. Typically I ring pads out by hand to remove excess water and hang over the tub. This allows excess water to drip into the tub and not onto the floor. When they’re drip-dried I move them close to the pellet stove or heater to really dry the cores and get the pad dry throughout.
The amount of drying racks available are pretty endless. There are retractable cords, fancy ones with clips like these and you can even use a piece of string and a few clothes pins. Whatever works for you and your environment is the best option.
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Do you wash cloth pads by hand? I’d love to hear your experience and suggestions below as my experience is limited to well, my experience. Thanks for stopping by!