Laundry

It needs to be done; but how do you do your laundry while living on a sailboat?

Being in a marina has its advantages, you have somewhere to park your car and you have access to appliances, but what about when you're cruising?

They actually make small washing machines that do not use electricity. I have a small one called "Wonder Wash" that I bought on Amazon. It will wash a small load relatively quickly and while using a minimal amount of water (the real important part). 

To operate the washer, you simply load the clothes into the can, add enough water so that all the clothes are floating, add a very small amount of detergent to the wet mix, and then screw the lid back on tightly. Now the clothes and soapy water are contained and ready to wash. I would sit and turn the crank for around 5 min, letting the clothes agitate as they sloshed around in the can. The washer comes with a drain pipe to let the water out, but it takes too long in my opinion. I simply open the lid and pour out the water. 

After you complete the wash cycle, add some fresh water and close the lid again. Now take a few minutes to crank the arm once more as you rinse out the soap from the clothes. If I had plenty of water handy, I would do two rinses to get all the soap out; but if I'm trying to conserve water, one rinse is good enough.

Now that the clothes are clean, we need to dry them! When anchored out, all my lifelines turn into clothes lines, but this is frowned upon in the marina, so I had to find another way. I used to use an electric clothes spinner (just like a salad spinner) to spin the water out of the clothes. This worked pretty well, but if the clothes were off balance, the machine would make horrible noises.

When the clothes would emerge from the machine, they were no longer dripping but still damp. I have a clothes line set up in the V-berth where they would hang out to dry all the way. 

This worked well while I lived alone, but when Maddie moved in, the laundry piled up way too fast for me to wash and dry this way. I asked other liveaboards in the marina and found a guy close by that would wash, dry, and fold all our clothes for $0.90 per pound. 

This has been our solution for the past year and I can't be happier! We still carry the clothes washer on board for doing laundry while cruising, but the spin drier has been removed from the boat. I took up a lot of space and needs 110V AC to run. When we are in port, we use the "Wash and Fold", and when we are cruising, we can hang the clothes from the lifelines. 

It is very important to keep the things you need on board, but be sure to remove things that you don't need. Space is a premium, and if something has no purpose, it is costing you valuable space!

As a dentist, I get rather close to people, so if my clothes were not clean, my patients would let me know rather quickly! When I lived alone, I used this machine every weekend for a year (when I would do my weeks worth of laundry) and no one ever mentioned my clothes smelling. 

I think the "Wonder Wash" is a wonderful tool to have on board. It disassembles easily, letting you store it in less space and it actually cleans the clothes well!

How do you guys do your laundry?

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