Lesson learned: clothing and laundry

Reminder, relevant to this post:  the RTR outing, 13days OG (isn’t “off-grid” what the kidz mean when they say that? :-) was a test of my boondocking retirement plans:

  1.  13 days at one site

  2. 1 day of travel/resupply

  3. repeat

The clothing I took with me would be a trial for what I could get away with on the road.   I have already started to remove whites from my clothing at home so I can combine loads easier.  All the clothes I brought were earth tones, which are my favorite colors.

clothing plan

My plan was to handwash a limited set of clothes during the stay then launder them on the 14th day at a laundramat.  There’d be no 14th day for me on this trip but the idea is the same;  I washed the load when I got back.


  • 4 days of daily-change items:  socks, underwear, shirts

  • 1 pair shorts

  • 1 pair jeans

  • 1 pair driving/inside shoes:  crocs

  • 1 pair of ankle-supportive walking shoes

  • sun hat

  • suspenders to hold up pants

Everything fit into a gym bag.

clothing reality

I realized at my first rest stop on the drive out there that I forgot my walking shoes.  Arghhh!  So it’s 4am at a walmart in the middle of nowhere and I’m trying to find some trek-style high tops.  No such luck.  I ended up with some low-top trail shoes and prayed I wouldn’t hurt my iffy right ankle.  <– an old army (ie, drinking) injury

I soon realized I needed some sweats to pull over my shorts during the morning chill.  The jeans just didn’t seem the same, so I will end up adding both to my eventual bag.  Luckily someone gave a pair of sweats on the free pile.  They didn’t have a drawstring but this didn’t matter as I had suspenders.  Field expedient!

Speaking of suspenders, I brought a pair that didn’t work very well with my shorts.  The shorts fabric was quite thin and the HD jaws on the work suspenders let them slip through.  I folded over the top of my shorts to allow the binders to grab onto something.  For the road I’ll bring a heavy pair and light pair of suspenders.

I have no butt to speak off, and narrow hips so I can’t keep my pants up with a belt no matter how tight.  Especially when I have stuff in my pockets or in a holster.

After a week or so in the desert my arms started to get a little dark, so I found a blousey/oversized long sleeved shirt in the free pile.  Wore it open over that day’s t-shirt.

My socks were 2 pair each of Andis shorties from walmart and Dickies work socks from Amazon.  I brought the latter for the added cushion when walking longer distances.  I ended up using both indiscriminately but preferring the shorties.  One of the Andis did start to deliver a hole late in the trip so I will want to upgrade quality before I go FT.

Laundry plan![412bglpyff8l-_sx90](https://boondockplan.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/412bglpyff8l-_sx90.jpg)

I knew I wanted to try bucket-washing with one of those plunger-looking dealios.  Procured one and test-drove it before taking the trip.

The laundry cones look like plungers but aren’t.  They are rigid instead of flexible, and are designed to force water through the cone (and through the laundry) instead of forcing water out of a plunger (and into a pipe).

I bought a heavy mop handle so I could wash standing up;  it uses the same threading.  During the day the mop handle was detached and hat a rubber can tip on it.  Et voila: walking stick.   More on that in another post.

My skin is sensitive to soap residue.  I use fragrance-free laundry soap at home, and wanted to use little to no soap in the bucket.  I planned on doing the pH-adjusted bleachwater method described in the testdrive link above in the bucket and normal fragrance-free soap in the 1-day turnaround when FTing.

I had paracord and some clothespins but had no real idea where I’d line dry the washed laundry.  :-/

Laundry reality

I did my laundry in a similar order as sponge-bathing:  outerwear, tshirts, socks, underwear.  I washed anything that had been used and that I was not presently wearing.  This was a no-soap, no-rinse scenario.  The clothes were agitated in the bleachwater, wrung, and dried.

The bucket worked out quite well.  I loaded lightly;  a “load” might be three tshirts, or a shirt and shorts, or all the socks, or all the underwear.  I squeezed mightly but wrung only moderately to keep from stressing the items.  A roller-type hand wringer  attached to the receiver hitch would be nice.  :-)  Spendy at over $100 and not sure how easy it would store.  modifiedBucketHandle41abP-UZsxL._AC_US218_

I wonder if it would be possible to modify a mop-wringing bucket with a handle on one of the rollers.  Drill right into the end of one.  Step on the wringing pedal and gently guide the clothing item through while cranking to assist?

The wringer is used to wring out bulkier mops heads instead of relatively thin clothing.  Maybe increase the roller size with some salvaged rolling pins?

Sorry.  Got sidetracked.

line drying

img_20180108_123151The PM doors have detents that hold them folded back nearly flat against the van, or sticking straight out.    The doors were held in place firmly enough I could run paracord between them and hang wet laundry.


As I said earlier it was relatively humid out there, at least for the desert.  ~40% range.  Stuff took a few hours to dry completely.  I re-hung the bulkier stuff 1x/hour in different positions to allow the creases to air out.

The dickies socks took the longest to dry out.  The shirts also took a while but I picked up 3 clothes hangers at a sidewalk market.  This helped them spread out for faster drying and also made more breathing room on the clothesline.  The pic above was pre-hanger.

I quickly learned one drawback to van door drying approach: it requires you to leave the van open while the clothes dry.  So if you need to wander off somewhere do the laundry ahead of time and leave plenty of time to dry.  Or have your “neighbors” watch the van.

Any breeze moving over the drying clothes was noticeably cooled by the evaporation.  A couple bystanders remarked on this.


The lack of a rinse left a hint of a vinegar smell on some of the clothes, particularly the thick dickies socks.   In the future I could either introduce a rinse (and probably use 2x the water), or reduce the washwater concentration.

I’ll go with the latter, reducing the 1ozBWV recipe to 0.5ozBWV.  :-)  The original was designed for no-rinse brewing sanitation (elimination of 99% of microorganisms) so it was already overkill.