Wash Coal Miner Laundry

Sunshine is still the least expensive and most natural bleach alternative.

Coal mining is not just honest, back-breaking and dangerous work–it’s filthy. Washing miner laundry is a true challenge, because coal dust is both fine and gritty. It is possible to remove coal dust from your miner’s clothing, but it will take some work. Fortunately, we are far removed from the days when laundering coal dust meant boiling water, hand scrubbing on a washboard, lye soap and an iron too hot to hold. Modern conveniences go a long way toward combating this very old problem. Does this Spark an idea?


1. Fill a bucket, basin or sink with hot water.

2. Add 4 to 6 healthy squirts of a good de-greasing cleanser, like dish soap that is formulated specifically to break through grease.

3. Let the clothing soak overnight.

4. Fill your washing machine with cold water and add an appropriate amount of a premium detergent that is designed to work in cold water. According to an informal study done by senior lecturer in apparel and textiles at North Dakota State University, Sara Sunderlin, in April 2010, the more expensive cold water detergents actually do get better results.

5. Set your washing machine for cold water wash and rinse with heavy agitation and let the clothing run through the cycle. Coal dust requires a high-surfactant detergent that breaks the surface tension of water, allowing it to attract grease and dust. Cold water detergents are very high-surfactant.

6. Remove the clothing from the washing machine and inspect it. If there is still visible coal dust, repeat steps 1 through 5. Dry the clothes in your automatic dryer on whatever setting you would normally use.