Making the switch from using laundry machines to doing your own laundry by hand only happens when you have to. Everyone tries to get out of it. It seems daunting. Impossible. But it’s not.
I thought it was going well before I was unmasked. I washed my bedding from the moldy house and it seemed to be OK. I used laundry machines that I shared with my tenants. Sometimes I used laundromats.
Then, in June, I had a family come into my weekly rental and want to do laundry right when they got there. That was unusual. But they had come from camping somewhere up north. I had heard people’s horror stories about laundry machines going bad, but “I couldn’t disallow access to the laundry room for no good reason, could I?”
Yeah. That ruined my life for months.
I got a new washer and I ozoned the dryer, but it didn’t matter. The super-toxin these people introduced to my home was so cross-contaminating that soon everything I owned in a different house became contaminated. My car. Every item of bedding. It was so cross-contminating that if I brought a single contaminated item into a room, everything in that room became contaminated and anything that one of those secondary items touched became contaminated, and on and on.
This particular super-toxin, dubbed Mystery Toxin, is renowned for its delayed effect. So, it passes a sniff test and doesn’t reach screech-point til it has had an opportunity to accumulate in your body, sometimes by the middle of the night.
The night I realized I had been nailed with this, I lied down in my newly laundered bedding, which, at the time, was in a tent on a Thermarest on a porch. I nestled in and noticed that my heart was pounding really fast. I filed back through my day. Did I inadvertently have some caffeine during the afternoon? Fifteen minutes went by and it got more pronounced. Hmm. Did I inadvertently slam 5 espressos and not remember? Jesus Christ! A half-hour…. Holy Fuck! WHAT IS IN MY LAUNDRY!!!
I still didn’t get how this toxin behaved. Someone on the boards told me to conceptualize it as a fine powder, which was helpful. But I quickly contaminated everything. It was insanely sticky. It got all over everything. There was no sleeping. I had lots of time to troll the boards and find out how to identify this and fight it.
I was half-crazed from lack of sleep. Sleeping pills didn’t work. Benedryl didn’t work. Benzos, muscle relaxants, chinese herbs. Nothing worked. New bedding worked. But only for one night until it also got contaminated.
It took months and a carefully orchestrated escape with a new car and all new stuff to outrun it. If you have had an experience like this, washing your own laundry seems like the only sane option.
What You Need
Wonder Wash (Hand crank personal washer)
Nina Spin Dryer (Centrifugal force machine spins all the water out, but doesn’t dry or heat items.)
Plastic dish tub (to catch wash water or rinse water to reuse it, if you need to.)
5 gallon bucket (For rinse water.)
Biodegradable soap like Dr Bronner’s. (You want your grey water to be able to go anywhere. Remember we have this fucking problem because our human pollution has pissed off the microbiota. Let’s not make it worse.)
Downy Free and Gentle (This fabric softener helps attract and collect spores so that they leave your fabrics.)
400W inverter for your car if doing laundry off grid. (You want to be able to go somewhere clean so that your laundry can dry in clean wind and sun. That might require being out beyond electricity somewhere. But you can still use your spin dryer if you have an inverter.)
Clean water source (many sources out west are contaminated with Cryptosporidium. Moldies have been known to buy bottled water to do their laundry or filter their laundry water.)
100ft of Nylon cord for a clothes line. (Seriously, don’t bother with the cheap, cotton clothesline. It breaks and you don’t even want to worry about the heavy, wet bedding that you just washed by hand landing in the dirt. It also has the advantage of being less conspicuous because you can get it in black or grey, which your campground hosts and neighbors will appreciate.)
Clothespins. (The wooden ones are biodegradeable, at least.)
Rubber gloves. Just get them. You will do so much laundry, you will ruin your hands if you don’t have them. They also come in handy when you are handling water that is too hot to touch. I have 2 pairs. One is too big for me so that I can wear them over fuzzy gloves on cold days.
I am just going to tell you step by step what I do because when I was figuring it out, I was insanely grateful to my mentors when they told me what to do because I was overwhelmed with other decisions to make and actions to take.
Before you start, check the weather to make sure you will have sun to dry your clothes and plan to start in the morning so they have time to dry.
First, test your water source. Ideally you want to have clean well water or spring water to wash your stuff. Town water is full of junk. If there’s a way to filter it, it will be easier on your immune system. The real risk is Cryptosporidium that has contaminated many water sources out west. Wash something– one item– and let it dry to see if you react to it. If the water is problematic, you will know after it evaporates and leaves its residue on your fabrics.
If your water is good to go, set up your washing station and fill your Wonderwash. It will take about 4 gallons plus clothes. Add about a tablespoon of Bronner’s castile soap and about a tablespoon of Downy Free and Gentle. (This is just how I do it…obviously modify as it works for you. You need more soap for harder water and less for softer water.) Then fill your 5 gallon rinse bucket with about 4 gallons of water and about ¼ cup of Downy Free and Gentle. Do not use this 5 gallon bucket for any other purpose that will pollute your laundry.
If you want hot water for whites or undies, let your clothes soak while you boil the water in your electric kettle. Once you have clothes, soap and water in the Wonderwash, close it up and crank it for 2 to 5 minutes. Make sure it’s not too full because it’s the air inside that bashes the clothes around and gets them clean.
Make sure your spin dryer has a level spot to sit and a downhill place to drain away. You will notice that the Nina spin dryer starts to spin when you snap the lid shut, but if the clothes are unbalanced, you have to open it again and reset the clothes so that they are centered. Protip: If you are strong enough, pick up the whole machine by the handle so that it is hanging during the start of the spin. It finds its center much faster when it doesn’t have to fight its own feet. It also puts less longterm pressure on the rubber bumpers that hold the basket. You want these bumpers to last. You will cry bitter tears when your spin dryer breaks, so baby it.
So, spin your washed clothes only sort-of-dry. Get the soapy water out and chuck them in the rinse bucket.
Another Protip: It’s better to split your load and spin twice than to overload your baby. So, take half your washload out, spin it, put it in the rinse bucket, then spin the other half. Do the same when you are spinning after a rinse. There will be heavy, wet blankets that fill the whole basket. Let them sit and drain by gravity for a while before you start to spin. The lighter the load, the easier it is on the machine.
Once your clothes are in the rinse bucket, swish them around thoroughly with your hand for a couple minutes. Let them sit if you can for a few minutes. Swish them again.
This time when you spin your half-loads dry, let them spin for minutes. After about 5 minutes, fabrics come out of this spinner amazingly dry and can dry in the sun in less than an hour in an arid climate on a sunny day.
While it’s spinning, set up your clothes lines. You want to find an orientation that faces the southern arc of the sun (in the northern hemisphere) and is downwind from nothing bad. Check the wind. Make sure there’s no campfire smoke or moldy buildings or RVs upwind from your clean laundry. If the line is too long, find a big branch with a Y in it and prop it up in the middle.
Once your rinsed clothes are spun dry, clip them to your clothesline. Don’t not clip them. You may have to wash them again if they fly off.
There are times when you may want to reuse water. My rule of thumb is to wash pajamas and bedding first. If the water isn’t too dirty, then you may be able to reuse it for items that don’t need to be as clean, like day clothes, car seat covers, cleaning cloths, etc.
Tips and Tricks
Buy clothes and bedding that is small enough to fit into these machines. Think
layers. It obviously helps if you are physically smaller and/or it is summer. (You may end up having to camp and handwash in the winter, but avoid starting your mold sabbatical in the fall, if at all possible. See Mold Sabbatical 101.)
My trick was to sleep in a hammock and buy summer sleeping bags and “throw” size blankets (50” x 60”) that I could use corner to corner. (I’m 5’5”, so this works in a hammock, but doesn’t work well for flat sleeping.) Otherwise look for thin twin sized blankets and use several layers.
Down certainly is the warmest and most size-efficient product. It’s just that it’s expensive and you will wash it every week until you ruin it. Also, you have to be prepared to throw absolutely anything and everything out if it gets too contaminated. So that hurts when it’s a $200 sleeping bag that is warm and fits into your spin dryer. The alternatives are cheap, thinner sleeping bags from places like Walmart that are sometimes already contaminated with something when you first buy them. No good choices.
Buying a sleeping bag that is too big to fit into your spin dryer means you will have to use a laundry machine to clean it. Only do that if you have your own washing machine that no one else uses– not even your family. Avoid front loaders. They get really moldy. Read Biotoxin Journey’s post about front loading washers. Then get a top loader. One Moldie I met with an acute sensitivity to spores got a dryer because she observed that spores will relax and release in a warm environment. This might be a better bet than letting items line dry in a moldy neighborhood. Don’t share your dryer either.
It is indeed true that laundromats in the Southwest are not as moldy as on the East coast! I was shocked! And started using them til I got hit with a super-toxin and had to throw my bedding out. Again. It’s roulette.
Fuzzy things like Berber fleece hold onto spores more readily than smooth, nylon-y fabrics. That said, there are hundreds of toxins. I encountered one that would let go of fleece, but not nylon. (See Paradoxes.)
Spores don’t pass through layers that readily, (your inner layers are cleaner than your outer layers) but toxins can pass through anything. With this in mind, you can use plastic bags to sequester your dirty clothes that have spores on them, but only Mylar bags will stop toxins. If you are dealing with a super-toxin and you want to keep items clean or want to sequester a contaminated item, Mylar may work where plastic won’t.
Spores settle. Your floor is more contaminated than your ceiling. If you drop something on the floor, don’t pick it up and put in on your bed without thinking.
Erik Johnson observed that some of these toxins behave like radiation. When you get nailed with a super toxin, you may wonder why it appears to jump through space. Ask Schrodinger’s Cat.
Spores love your hair. So wear hats and wash them often. You will still have to wash your hair every time before you go to bed, but hats can prolong your time between washes. Keeping your hair short enough to be covered by hats helps.
Get black plastic bags and white plastic bags for laundry. You will have to wash your bedding and pajamas first in an ultra-strict and clean protocol. Reserve the cleanest water and the first wash for your PJs. You will even need to contain your pajama laundry away from your day laundry. I use white bags for dirty pajama laundry and black bags for dirty day laundry.
Don’t put clean laundry into a bag that held dirty laundry. Van der Waals forces will keep spores attached to the plastic. And toxins like plastic too. Use a new bag. I tie a knot in the bottom corner of my bags that contain clean laundry so that I know I can use it again for clean items. Other bags I will reuse for dirty items, if they are not too contaminated.
Better yet, keep your clean stuff in boxes. Always snap them shut. Keep your pajamas in a separate box or a flexible zip-box inside your clothes box. If you open it, close it, unless you would like to detail-clean the contents in it every time there is a little mishap. The outside of boxes are easier to clean that everything inside. Be diligent and get in the habit. If you are one of those people that has to learn the hard way, you will.
It matters where you spill your grey water. It contains spores and toxins, so don’t have it draining right under your hammock. (Did that once. Whoops.) It’s also better to let the grey water have its own path, rather than let it spread out around you. You can ruin a campsite by surrounding yourself with spore-filled grey water. It’s better to let it run in a certain channel, away from your living/sleeping area, and then spray EM-1 on the drainage periodically when the wind is blowing away from you. Also make sure it’s a sandy/rocky drainage area. That way if the ground gets really contaminated, you can torch it too. (See Toolkit.)
Store your Wonder Wash and 5 gallon bucket OPEN. If you seal moisture inside, you might get a spore bath when you open them.
Track the weather regularly. You need to be caught up on laundry before a 3 day rainstorm.
Do a little bit of laundry everyday. There are days when you will have 6 hours of laundry, but hopefully the day after that, you can do none.
Always have a back-up and a back-up to your back-up. You need to have back-up bedding and pajamas clean and ready to go at all times. Don’t mix your back-up bedding with your main bedding. Just don’t. You also need to have a back up set of weather-appropriate clothing in your car at all times. If you get nailed, you need to be able to reach in there carefully and grab it without contaminating your whole car.
There will be times during the winter when you will have to choose between being clean, being warm and being dry at night in bed. I have slept in completely damp bedding (but I was warm and clean) and have slept many times in dry, clean bedding but was freezing my ass off. I have also slept countless times in bedding that was too contaminated. It’s hard to sleep. Sometimes you don’t. You just make it til morning. Look up the supplement Kavinace Ultra PM and ask your practitioner about it. It’s a neurotransmitter sleeping pill and let’s me sleep like a log, even when I’m contaminated. Personally, I can’t use it more than once a week (or it stops working) so I save them for when I can sleep in and for those nights when I am totally at the end of my fucking rope.
When you buy new items, they are often pre-contaminated. It helps to do the Boiled Water Protocol as a matter of routine for new items, to decontaminate them before they become in contact with your other belongings.
Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, CIRS, is also known as “Biotoxin Illness” or “Mold Illness.” It is a relatively new illness that is emerging from the toxic response of some microorganisms to our modern, chemical-filled environment. Patients will often get a preliminary diagnosis of ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomylitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) or CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.) It is a harrowing illness to have financially, socially, psychologically and physically, but people can, and do, recover.