Washing clothes the old-fashioned way without a washing machine takes lots of time and effort. It can be very hard on your hands, but there are a few things that you can do to make it easier on yourself.
First, if you have stored store bought soaps it will be easier to wash with and better on your skin that the homemade lye soaps. The less you have to put your hands in the soapy water the easier washing clothes will be on your skin.
The two methods of washing clothes that are most commonly known and available are the washboard or the plunger. Of the two methods, I prefer the plunger. This can be simply a new toilet plunger or a purpose build one, like the Breathing Mobile Washer. The method is simple you put the clothes in a five gallon bucket or wash tub containing soap and water and agitate with the plunger. This minimizes the time your hands stay in the water. While the Mobile Washer costs a little more, it is bigger and does create a better up and down action in the water. The clothes are then transferred to a bucket or tub of rinse water and re-agitated to rinse them. Then wring the clothes out and hang out to dry.
The second method using a washboard requires that you work the clothes against the board while keeping your hands in the soapy water. Once the clothes have been washed they are then rinsed by hand in the clean water, wring out and hung up to dry.
Now while both of these methods take more time and work than a modern washing machine, there are some things that you can get to make it easier on yourself. The first is to find a set of the square washtubs that fit on a stand. This prevents you from having to bend over and they normally have a drain hose in the bottom. This saves you from having to carry the tubs to dump the water out.
A second labor saving device is to get a hand wringer that fits on the tubs. This while hand operated is a much easier way to wring out your clothes. DisasterStuff.com
Also don’t forget to stock clothesline and clothespins.