How To Do Laundry & Clothes Washing Without Electricity

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clothes washing by hand

Maybe you’re planning an extended off-grid stay somewhere or maybe you’re planning for what you would do during a long grid-down situation.

Eventually you will want to wash your dirty clothes! But how?

Those here who are preparedness-minded and into higher levels of being prepared, have you thought about this?


Whether you have or haven’t, it’s today’s topic and food for thought.

Mobile Hand Powered Laundry


What do you need to do laundry?

1. Water
2. Soap
3. Agitation

That’s it!

Even without soap, you can get clothes cleaner by water-soaked agitation.

There are a few clever inventions that may assist you in your efforts to do laundry without electricity.

But first, you might want to get yourself a relatively large basin or two (wash – rinse). You’ll find various sizes and shapes of these tubs at your local Tractor Supply or equivalent store near you.

Ordinary 5 gallon buckets will work too, although they’re kind of narrow and won’t fit too many clothes at once.

Bear in mind that you could also wash clothes in a body of water too.


Portable Clothes Washing Machine

While they are not your modern washing machines, they will get the job done!

clothes washing plunger

‘Breathing’ Mobile Clothes Washer

Basically, it’s a plunger with a “breather”.

Check it out here:
Breathing Mobile Washer

Could you use an ordinary plunger that you might already have in your bathroom? Yes, however there’s an important difference.

This type of handheld mobile washer is designed to push and pull water through clothes. When you raise the plunger a few inches, the air goes in through the top portion called “the breather.” Whereas an ordinary plunger will not be as effective.

clothes washing washboard

Galvanized Washboard

You’ve all seen these before right? A staple during the “old days”, the washboard will get your clothes clean along with a little elbow grease.

More information:
Behrens Galvanized Washboard

How to use a washboard? We’ve done it a few different ways. However here’s one person’s description from an Amazon review which I thought was pretty helpful:

Here is the way I was taught to use a wash board:

The wood area at top is where you set your bar of laundry soap. Put clothes in a tub of water with desired detergent and swish around for a bit.

Wet the metal surface of your washboard and rub the grid with your bar of soap. Now rub each item on the soapy surface of the wash board. Pay particular attention to stained areas. You will need to re-soap the washboard surface occasionally.

Once all clothes have been scrubbed, swish them around some more in the tub. Then drain the water, ring out the clothes, refill the tub with rinse water and swish around for a while.

Drain, wring out and, if desired, rinse a second time. I used to wash all my laundry in the bathtub with a large washboard.

hand crank portable washing machine

Portable Compact Mini Washing Machine

Here’s a novel invention (actually it has been around for quite a number of years).

Have a look:
WonderWash Mini Washing Machine

It’s a very portable hand crank washing machine. You turn it at about one revolution per second (not hard to do).

Tip: If you fill it halfway (rather than cramming it full), it’s easy to crank.

Tip: If you spin it slowly so the clothes drop from top to bottom each revolution, the clothes are slammed down through the hot soapy water 60 times per minute. So two minutes of cranking slams them through the water 120 times and they come out sparkling clean. If you spin it faster, centrifugal force keeps the clothes at one end of the washer, and the clothes won’t clean properly.


Non-Electric Clothes Dryer

It’s called a clothes line. Got rope?

“Rope” from Tom over at CampingSurvival

Your turn.
Further suggestions about washing clothes without electricity?

More: How To Make Laundry Detergent Soap

More: 20+ Other Uses For Soap

More: A Washboard Is A Great Survival Prep Item

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