October 31, 2014

Off-Grid Laundry

To do laundry in an off-grid situation, we can just look to the past and add a few modern twists. There are three parts to doing laundry, washing, rinsing/wringing and drying. Let’s take a look at how to do those three off-grid.

Washing


 Washing Board
I’m sure many of us have seen pictures of people using washboards to do laundry. While it might get   the clothes clean, it can take a lot of effort.

 

Non-electric Washing Machines
A more modern, yet off-grid means, is with an item like the Pressure Handwasher from Lehman’s, the Wonder Wash from The Laundry Alternative Inc. or Laundry Pod. The designs of the Pressure Handwasher and the Wonder Wash are similar to each other. From simply looking at the designs web pages and the videos that are available, the Laundry Pod design seems superior to me. The process of the three is similar; add a gallon or two of water, a bit of soap and turn/crank for a minute or two, drain, add more water and turn/crank for a minute or two to rinse.


Do It Yourself
If you’re a do-it-yourself-er or just frugal, you can do something similar by using a five gallon bucket and a laundry plunger. Take the lid for the five gallon bucket and cut a hole in the middle large enough for the handle of the laundry plunger. Fill the bucket half full with clothes, add a gallon or two of water add a little soap. Now put the laundry plunger in the bucket and place the lid securely over the plunger. Push the plunger up and down to agitate the clothes for a couple of minutes. Some people use a regular plunger. It is my understanding that laundry plungers force soap and water through the clothes more effectively. Lehman’s has two version of laundry plungers or hand washers, they are the Rapid Laundry Washer and the Breathing Hand Washer.


Rinsing/wringing
The non-electric washing machines have a means to rinse and wring the clothes, but there are other methods for those not using one of these machines. Lehman’s Clothes Wringer has some off-grid options but they’re a bit pricey to me.

Do It Yourself
Here is a three bucket system I found that I think is very clever and would go nicely with the other do it yourself system to wash clothes.

Drying
Many people use clothes lines and pins for drying their clothes, either to save on the energy bill, or just for the fresh smell. As a kid we used some that were made out of clothes line rope, but you can also use wire strands. Another option for drying clothes is a drying rack.

While this isn’t completely off-grid, it might be a nice option for some. The Laundry Alternative Inc. has two products for Drying clothes that would be great for people with limited space.

One last thought: water that was used for laundry can be recycled and used to water the garden or lawn.

Comments

  1. I have been looking at different ways to do this, this puts it in all in one place, thanks for sharing this! Found on twitter through @PrepperWebsite and RT’ed by @isurvivalskills

  2. Debra Bish says:

    Thanks! This is very helpful. Another idea I’ve seen is putting a load of laundry, detergent, and hot water in a 25 or 50 gallon barrel with a screw-on, tight-fitting lid, and let the kids roll the barrel all around the yard for 20 minutes or so. Then, of course, you’d need the wringer & dump out the water & do the whole thing over again with clear water for the rinse cycle. Work & exercise all in one.

  3. Preppinglikecrazy! says:

    I found a “Thomas Washer” made by a Mennonite family that was being sold by a women who also sold me a solar oven. The Thomas Washers are very well made and do not require electricity. We will use it soon just to practice!

  4. I use the bath tub and stomp with my feet. I then hang it all up on hangers and rinse with a spray hose and place them on the line, on hangers, and wring out that way…

    • Chris Ray says:

      An idea that is in front of us and escapes us as (at least me) well, good thinking Jenna!

  5. I used to have an old wringer washer that ran on gasoline. It had a pull cord like a chain saw. We lived in a cabin with no electric and it saved a lot of work. I used the garden fence for a clothes line…. used soap that didn’t hurt anything and could use the water on the garden…. Long time ago….

  6. Glad to see these modern versions of ‘off grid’ don’t involve big vats of hot water. In the PBS (imported from the BBC) show ’1910 House’ about how a modern family adapts to a London(area) house outfitted as it would have been in 1910, when the family got around to ‘laundry day’ the explanation that accompanied the visuals said that the process was so involved and laborious (washing all bedding and towels and clothing and, and, and) that kids were kept home from school to be avail as part of the workforce. AND–the process involved a special laundry room with a huge vat for the hot water/washing, and heating and filling that vat was a leading cause of children’s death due to burns.

    So a 5 gal. bucket and plunger sounds pretty good, compared.

    (I’m going from memory re the show and the details of the laundry operation, so if someone knows different, you may well be right. )

  7. I had the year wrong for the show–it’s the 1900 House, and here’s a link to a clip, if it’s at all of interest. (it’s an 8+ min clip)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-pbgfwr3z0

    also, there’s a paragraph or two of info and a link to a shorter clip here:

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/1900house/house/scullery/laundry.html

  8. Hi,

    If anyone is interested, I have a used WonderClean washer that I am willing to sell for half what I paid for it. I have used it occasionally, it does work, but I am thinking of switching to the Breathing Hand Washer.

    My email is kav 4214 [at] ymail [dot] com

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