Doing laundry on a cruising boat is a nuisance at best. With a sick kid, it is downright nasty. Here are a few tips I have discovered along the way.
1) A saltwater pre soak is very handy for saturated items. It takes out a lot of the muck without wasting water. If your doing a saltwater soak, a wring out and then a quick freshwater rinse is key before washing or the saltwater smell will linger.
2) For the wash cycle, hot water is key. And I mean scalding hot. Boiling water alone will remove most stains. For other stains and messy stuff, warm does not cut it. Cold water will work, but only for slightly dirty clothes.
3) Do small loads at a time. Just like the washing the dishes, wash the least soiled items first. With the right balance between dirty clothes, water and soap you can get it all clean with only one bucket of water. This may be more or less critical, depending on your water supply.
4) I use a plunger and a bucket to agitate the clothes. I try to mimic a washing machine and alternate between plunging and soaking. The ultimate way to wash is to put the bucket in a secure location and go for a sail. Your clothes with actually wash themselves!
5) Wring out and hang to dry. If your hands are getting tired from all that wringing, try using your feet to get most of the water out before wringing.
6) Clothes dry fastest in the sun and wind, second fastest in the sun, third in the wind. This means they will actually get fairly dry overnight if you have a slight breeze.
7) Check the weather before washing. If it is going to be rainy and cool for several days, consider waiting for better weather or you will be shuffling drying clothes around your boat for days.
8) If needed go find a laundry mat! Just remind yourself of all the water and effort you are saving as you traipse across town carrying your dirty clothes.
Oh and another helpful tip: don’t leave wet laundry in the hamper or it may grow mildew!