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Old 07-15-2008, 12:43 AM   #1
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I've been doing some research on various methods of washing clothing while at sea. One of the most interesting methods I've heard about is the use of ammonia and black trash bags.

This method involves mixing a couple gallons of fresh water with a cup of ammonia in a two ply black trash bag with a couple pounds of soiled clothes. The bag is then tied closed and hung from a spare halyard such that the bag sloshes while sailing. Because the bag is black, it will solar heat the water as it does it's job.

After a few hours, simply remove the clothing from the bag and hang to dry. There is no need to rinse because the ammonia will evaporate and leave the clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Does this seem logical???

Does anyone have any better methods other than leaving your clothes at the nearest laundromat?
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Old 07-15-2008, 03:05 AM   #2
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Hi Ken,

I am not sure about the recommended the dilution rate of ammonia to fresh water - ie 1 : 38 it seems a little dilute.

Depending how long one is away from shore and on the amount of dirty clothing and bed linen to be washed and the amount of fresh water available - Ammonia will work - but following the main wash - a final rinse in fresh water is necessary to remove particles from the cloth.

The carrying of ammonia on board also needs careful attention :- see AMMONIA

I remember very clearly an event in a field laboratory - we used to distill absolute alcohol for lab use, storing it in large glass bottles - noticing on Mondays that the one bottle would be missing, we substituted the contents of all the bottles on a Friday with Liquid Ammonia Forte. Sure enough on the Monday one bottle was missing , later that morning workers found a bottle hidden in amongst some drums in the rear yard of the Lab - it was brought to me - who without thinking, unscrewed the cap, brought the bottle close to nostrils and took a deep breath -- I am told that I fell to the ground as if I had been shot! Shortly after I recovered with a very clear head and a clear message regarding ammonia.

Somewhere else JeanneP covered the use of "Joy" - many dish washing liquid detergents will do a similar job. I have used them to soak dirty clothes in a bucket over night - then place the clothes in string bag and drag behind the boat for a while to rinse out the washed out dirt and detergent - and then rinse in fresh water and hang out to dry.

Richard

PS in South East Asia Nuts containing Saponin are used by fishermen to wash their clothes see

Saponins

'
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Old 07-15-2008, 10:04 PM   #3
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My bet is that you won't even bother to wash clothes at sea, with the exception of the occasional dish towel or bath towel. On passages we wore very little, to no, clothes, only covering up when approaching landfall. Bathing suits were usual attire when in sight of land. Of course, this was tropical cruising we did. Sailing is wet work and salt water splashing on your clean clothes hanging on the lifelines isn't a good thing. Save laundry for landfall.

You will not want anything flapping around on a halyard. Putting the laundry into a black garbage bag with water and ammonia (and I think that 1 cup to 2 gallons water is probably adequate) and then letting it lay down as you're sailing should be good enough. When I did the occasional wash (towels or a very stinky t-shirt) on a passage I would use salt water and dishwashing liquid (Joy, Dawn, or a few others that work well in salt water), rinse with salt water, let it hang out to drip and dry, then rinse with fresh water. Salt is a dessicant, so if it's not rinsed out of the material it will draw the moisture out of the air, and the clothing will never truly dry once it's out of the sun. Salt water is pretty hard on the material, though.

You'll find your choice of clothes leans towards the easy to rinse, fast to dry nylon stuff most of the time. I liked men's swim shorts with a bikini top or a tank top. That was partly because when we dropped and set the anchor I jumped overboard immediately to snorkel and check out the area. I didn't want to take the time to change clothes.
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:45 PM   #4
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The only reason I'm asking about this subject is that Lori seems fixated on it...I on the other hand have not exercised a single brain cell on the subject until now. She seems to think we need a washer and dryer. When she mentions such rediculous thoughts, I try to explain to her the mechanics of energy and space needed for such useless machines on a boat. My engineering arguments go nowhere with her.

The ammonia in a trash bag was going to be my next attempt at eliminating the concept of a washer & dryer from her mind.

On a positive note, she is starting to appreciate the value of an Ampere...125 of them to be exact. I demonstrated to her that I could raise the anchor and 300 ft of chain with the energy she used to dry her hair.
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Old 07-16-2008, 02:28 AM   #5
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Your boat is big enough that you could put a small washer on board, but I would argue vehemently against a dryer. They are heavy, energy beasts, and would not dry your clothes nearly as well as hanging them on the lifelines. You don't get wrinkled clothes blowing dry on the lifelines the way you do in a tumble dryer.

The washer I would recommend, if you went that way, is a separate washing tub and spin chamber.

Here's a spin dryer, weighs 22 pounds, which I would love in conjunction with my 5-gallon bucket and toilet plunger washer. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006...ble_spin_d.php

I had one of their Wonderwashers and did not like it at all.

Or look at this 25-lb washer: http://www.allbrands.com/products/abp11930...e&ovtac=CMP

The twin-tub washer shown in the following link is similar to the one I had in our St. martin Apt. Never had a boat with the room for one, though. http://www.lge.com/products/model/de...730n_1_6.jhtml

ta-dah!
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Old 07-16-2008, 02:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trim50 View Post
The only reason I'm asking about this subject is that Lori seems fixated on it...I on the other hand have not exercised a single brain cell on the subject until now. She seems to think we need a washer and dryer. When she mentions such rediculous thoughts, I try to explain to her the mechanics of energy and space needed for such useless machines on a boat. My engineering arguments go nowhere with her.

The ammonia in a trash bag was going to be my next attempt at eliminating the concept of a washer & dryer from her mind.

On a positive note, she is starting to appreciate the value of an Ampere...125 of them to be exact. I demonstrated to her that I could raise the anchor and 300 ft of chain with the energy she used to dry her hair.
About that laundry--

Pretty much we've decided that time in contact with the water is the thing that makes the dirt leave your clothing. Even at home I always use the "soak" function if clothes are really dirty.

We've washed clothes while on extended 3 to 5 week backcountry canoe trips (in Canada) doing almost exactly what you describe--black trash bag, water, bit of Joy or Dawn, FRESH water (fresh water canoeing); nest it among the packs in the canoe, paddle all day, haul it across a portage or two around the rapids...rinse that night and hang to dry near the campfire. Comes out smelling like whatever we're cooking that night. Works with FRESH water...dunno about salt water. Can't get the salt out of things usually so I wouldn't really consider using it. We did a similar wash-trick with water sloshing in a cooler while extended Mexico tripping via car. Works with very small amounts of FRESH water in a large cooler with your clothes for a few hours, drain, rinse, hang to dry. I know from my own hand-washing experiences that I cannot do laundry with less than about 5 gallons for a load including rinse.

Regarding the boat laundry--I'm with Lori, sorry Ken....we have a washer/dryer all-in-one unit. I plan on using the "cooler method" or some variation on deck in general but wanted to have the washer as an option. Having roughed it a lot on other trips, my husband, Dave, is with me 100% on having a washer aboard.

Reasoning: we're planning on living aboard for an indefinite period and we have a big (54' deck x 14'6" beam) boat with more than enough room for the luxury of us having a washer/dryer aboard. We took a closet that had originally housed large CO2 cylinders (for a fire suppression system when the boat had electric drive and 2 gas generators...) and converted it to a "laundry room."

We bought our boat washer/dryer 2 years ago and have been using it at home to see how it goes. Works fine. The one we have consumes between 6 and 11 gallons depending on the cycles used. Here is a link to one like ours. Washer doesn't consume excessive electricity but the (vented) dryer function is a total hog--we hang clothes to dry in our kitchen in the apartment right now. We'll only use the dryer in some dire emergency OR while on shore power. Whatever you do--don't consider a "condensing" dryer function--we lived with that for 2 years in Japan and it doesn't work at all; get a vented dryer. Also, a washer with a water heater function is nice--ours has that though we use cold water for washing.

Regarding consumption, you can check the consumption of something using a Kill-a-watt meter

I'm also on the lookout for an old fashioned roller wringer to get hand washed clothes dry before hanging up. I've seen them "somewhere" online...

Best of luck to you.
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:51 AM   #7
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Jeanne's coverage on clothes (or lack thereof) reminded me of the white kitchen pyjamas that one could buy in Hong Kong (probably still can) they were made of light weight 100% white pure cotton - medium sleeves and the shorts down to calf level - big draw string on the shorts.

Absolutely perfect for tropical sailing - what with UV and its consequences being such a factor for cruising.

I managed to find a site advertising similar white 100% pajamas ( the collar a bit formal but otherwise would also be very suitable) it's an Indian Ebay site :-

Ethnic Long Pajamas $US 14 - not bad.

Richard
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Old 07-18-2008, 08:59 AM   #8
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If you're sailing the tropics I go with what JeanneP says; leave the laundry till landfall. Just handwash the few undies and hang them INSIDE the boat to avoid the salt air as best as possible. You will live in loosefitting swim trunks, etc., if anything.

Trim, Lori must find a couple of lightweight, loose "shifts" to wear - easy to rinse out and quick to dry. As you know by now, you can get very badly sunburnt from the reflection off the sea so it is better to be wearing "something". On passage, laundry is not a major problem and ashore (especially in SE Asia) laundry is very cheap.
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Old 07-18-2008, 05:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
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If you're sailing the tropics I go with what JeanneP says; leave the laundry till landfall. Just handwash the few undies and hang them INSIDE the boat to avoid the salt air as best as possible. You will live in loosefitting swim trunks, etc., if anything.

Trim, Lori must find a couple of lightweight, loose "shifts" to wear - easy to rinse out and quick to dry. As you know by now, you can get very badly sunburnt from the reflection off the sea so it is better to be wearing "something". On passage, laundry is not a major problem and ashore (especially in SE Asia) laundry is very cheap.
Good point about the tropics. I forgot to mention that our own planned sailing is as much high latitude sailing as possible--not focused on the tropics at all.
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Old 08-26-2008, 08:07 PM   #10
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My dear, loving, smart, hard working, understanding, generous and beautiful wife advocates the use of adding a bit of VINEGAR the wash to help keep our cloths (and ourselves) clean & smelling good while living on our boat.

To life!

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Old 08-26-2008, 10:52 PM   #11
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Does it seem to work?
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Old 08-27-2008, 02:07 AM   #12
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Does it seem to work?
Vinegar kills some microorganisms including some fungus, I think. Many people use vinegar to rid themselves of dandruff--which is believed to be sometimes caused by a fungus...

Vinegar has lots of uses on a boat--from cleaning things to putting a bit down the toilet from time to time to clear out the salt-water scale and counter the ammonia in the holding tank Vinegar also is good for clean-up after using epoxy (West System for example) if you get a bit on your skin.

You can wash fresh veggies in vinegar if you're worried they may have a bit of mold or some such growing on them, too.

The wonders of vinegar are quite something
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Old 08-27-2008, 04:49 AM   #13
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Hi,

Grandma's tips on vinegar (she is referring to 5% Glacial Acetic Acid) :-

VINEGAR

PS don't waste good Apple Cyder or Wine Vinegar
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Old 08-27-2008, 05:12 AM   #14
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We are drifting slightly off topic here but, as vinegar can be put to 1,000 different uses, the drift is only positive and very useful.

I am a great believer in the "magic" qualities of vinegar. Follow this LINK to see just what purposes it may be put to.

I just wonder if it can be used as an anti-fouling?

Aye // Stephen
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