Friday 19 July 2013

How do you do laundry on a narrowboat?

A while ago I asked my readers what they would like to read about on the blog, and I got plenty of interesting answers. Curiously there were several questions about doing the laundry!

Jess said, “I'm going to have a washing machine on my new boat (very exciting), but how on earth am I going to dry sheets in winter? Do people just use laundrettes in winter for big things? Any ideas?!”

I have used the launderette for sheets. But often I will just peg it folded over the tiller. Peg it tight - I lost a double sheet into the Cut on a windy day! I didn't see it go... I assume it blew away and then sank eventually. Indoors I hang sheets over long copper pipes that are part of the heating system, or over the curtain rail across the front door, and sometimes over the shower door - anywhere I can really. On a hot summer day I sometimes spread them across the roof; steel gets very hot! Sheets or clothes will then dry on the roof very quickly. It reminded me of when I was in India, watching the ladies of Varanasi spread their laundry on the Ghats beside the Ganges.

I also have a Brolley Mate which can be used to hold a lightweight rotary washing line onto the tiller. We have a trad stern on our boat but it rises above the roof level and half of the washing line hangs over the canal.

On our last boat we had a rotary washing line that was held in a specially made hole in the deckboards (pictured.) Also, when in remote countryside I have been known to peg up a line in the trees or a hedge!


Andy and Sue are planning to move aboard soon and asked me, “How do you do the ironing when not connected to shore power?”

Good question. On my first boat I had a little travel iron that ran off a 12volt plug – the kind you can plug into a cigarette lighter socket. It was rubbish!

Now I have a travel iron from Argos that requires an ordinary 240volt supply but I made sure that it was only 900 watts. Hinari Travel Steam Iron It runs off our 1500 watt pure sine wave invertor.

The Launderette Equation

Before we had a washing machine I was very frustrated about the amount of time I spent taking tiny children and lots of laundry, on foot, to the launderette.

I decided there must be a scientific equation for how posh an area is versus how close is the nearest launderette. The nicer the area you are visiting, the less likely there is to be a launderette. However, finding a launderette is not a problem in inner city areas.

The Launderette Equation for Boaters

(Local house price) / (commuter train fare to London) x (N) = distance to launderette from mooring.

Further research is required to ascertain N and calculate the distance of the boat from the launderette.
If you travel a lot get yourself a copy of the Aylesbury CanalSociety Launderette List. “Many boaters won't boat without it.”

Read more about launderettes and laundry in my boating life.

As with many parts of boating, there’s never just one solution to a problem. It takes all different boats and different boaters to find different ways of doing things. How do you do your laundry?

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