clothes washing by hand

How To Do Laundry & Clothes Washing Without Electricity

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?

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

Similar Posts


  1. We hang all or our shirts out to dry. I swear the drier is shrinking them it’s not me getting fatter.

  2. I love all three gadgets, and purchased them a few years back. I used three washboards (small, medium, and large) for “decoration” on the walls in the laundry room in my previous home. Now they are in storage as we build our new house. I bought all three gadgets at Lehman’s online, and chose the glass-ribbed washboard rather than the galvanized one, although both work well.

    I try to have manual back-up devices as much as possible for potential grid-down scenarios, etc.

    1. Gardener,
      I love the idea of using the washboards as decoration! Right now, my washboard is at the back of a cabinet, taking up space. Hanging it on the laundry-room wall would free up that space. It makes me want to think of other things I could hang in there as decoration. Thanks for the suggestion!

  3. When I was in the Navy (boot camp) they had these long concrete tables that we wash our cloths on. then we would hang them on a cloth line. then the next morning you would stand for inspection our biggest fear was that a seagull would crap on them and you would fell the inspection and have to run laps. the Naval training center in San Diego is now gone but i still remember standing their washing my cloths by hand.

    1. Seabee,,
      Thanks for the memories ( not always pleasant ) of doing laundry on the old concrete wash tables at NTC SanDiego. A scrub brush ,soap , sweat and water got the job done . Those mid watches guarding the clothesline were not quite so fun though .

      1. Mr. has told me the Parris Island Boot Camp wash story. They were timed and HAD to be finished and clean. LOL Buy the way I have a WWII postcard of wash day at the Navy Boot camp. We think it was in the Great Lakes area.

      2. LOL memories here from that also. I can remember having to walk between barracks at 2 in the morning in the pouring rain there on guard duty. Made no sense to me but their was often a chief that would come check on you so your happy butt better not be hiding under the eves. In my day if you got caught ( don’t ask ) you would get what they called marching parties. When lights out hit and everyone else hit the sack you went to the commanders office for a couple of hours of PT.

  4. A commercial grade mop bucket with a second bucket mop squeeze set up waist high works well. Wash the most clean clothing first then less clean until you cannot tolerate the water.

    Be careful where you dump the nasty water. A brown water pit to prevent standing water bug factories and not contaminate your drinking water is advisable.

    After you have to haul water and hand wash a while you will accept a lesser level of clean.

    1. NH Michael;
      Mop Bucket is a good idea, Also how about a 55 Gallon Barrel cut into two buckets, a little bigger for those that have a LOT of Dirty Laundry…

      1. If your handy you can build a 40 gallon screw top olive barrel version of the wonderwash. Angle iron bolts or welding well anchored with a dirty water drainage system. If you cut a 55 gallon barrel you have two 25 gallon bucket weighing over 200 pounds to deal with.

  5. “Go jump in the Lake” :-)
    Yes an alternate is to just take a Bath in a lake/river with a Bar of soap fully clothed. Please remember to remove the shoes.
    Don’t think I need to describe the process. And yes It works well.
    As you wash the clothing peal each layer off and toss on the Dock, after all clothing is washed, finish the job on yourself, don’t forget to wash your Hair.
    Have a Line hung nearby to Air-Dry the wash.
    FYI, in the winter when the Ice is Flowing the job becomes much quicker :-) :-)

  6. I have one of the plungers and have used it for nasty rags etc that I didn’t want to put in the machine. It worked fine but does make you realize how much more work it is. Also getting clothes wrung out is harder. Things like jeans are hard to hand wring – towels not so bad.

  7. – If you have 50 feet of paracord, double the line and twist it so you have a turn every foot or so. That will give enough of a clothesline to hang everything without having to have clothespins. I heartily recommend additional line over clothespins in bug-out bags and the like, and its a useful trick even at the house, especially if you are improvising and maybe don’t have them. For bed-sheets, hang them completely over the line (helps keep them off of the ground) then just pull them between the lines in the middle on each side. I have used both plunger (I have one reserved just for washing) and washboards (small and medium) and have used bare hands as well. The plunger and a bathtub works better for sheets, any of the above for anything else. I have used a wonder washer, but don’t own one.

    – Papa S.

  8. Could just run naked through the woods :)
    Who needs clothing.. When those neighbors come to take your stuff jump out with your man parts dangling and scare them off. They’ll think your nuts!

    1. That might have been ok 20-30 years ago but even I don’t want to see me running naked anymore. Unfortunately its not just the man parts dangling now days LOL. I tell the wife I should just stand in the front yard a couple of times a week in full camouflage shouting cadence. Then stop,scream and start rolling around. The neighbors will stay away at that point I am sure.

  9. I like that breathing mobile washer. But it looks to me like it don’t hold very many clothes 😁

    1. – Anonymous –
      It doesn’t hold the clothes. You put them in a bucket/tub/ whatever and use the thing like a plunger to wash the clothes. Sorry.
      – Papa S.

  10. I had a similar rig like Ken mentioned years ago when I lived off grid. It was good to be able to wash clothes in an emergency like not being able to go to town. ( yes, during fire season we were that busy.)

    As a civilian nowadays, much of the hand laundering can be tough on clothing so I find myself buying clothing from Duluth Trading Post. The pockets are velcro sealed and useful. the waistlines come in odd sizes and the items are durable. I wear their Firehose fabric trousers every day.

    As I had a town job and had the ability and funds to go to town, I would load up my wash in duffle bags and find a clean laundromat close to a good deli or coffee shop. I enjoy reading the paper to catch up on news while my laundry spins in the machines. If the coffee shop had a nice wait staff, all the more reason to go to town once a week.

    Thus my idea about purchasing a laundry business in a strip mall of a small town close to a good coffee shop or deli.

    1. Did you ever see a thing called Soap and Suds ? Don’t know how many there were but it was a bar next to a laundromat. It had numbers on the wall in the bar that would light up when your washer or dryer shut off. I didn’t use it as I had washer and dryer at home but knew some single guys that thought is was the best idea ever.

  11. Buy sturdy clothes pins. The best your budget will allow. Have two Wonder Washers. Work well. The stand could be sturdier. A crafty person could make a better stand.

  12. You could always wear your clothes until they disintegrate. It might hurt a little for men when you take your t-shirt off and find your hair has grown through your shirt. And you find you get used to the smell and it becomes normal!

  13. I have one of these washers / spin driers.

    w w w dot

    It’s a portable washer that works very well for something only costing $200.00 ish. on Amazon. I would say it washes as good as the Maytag in the basement.

    Yes it uses electricity, but I have it installed in a motor-home that has solar panels and 4 large batteries. So I don’t have to do laundry by hand.

    You can fill it from a sink with supplied hose or with a bucket. To drain water out it has a hose that you hang lower then the bottom of the washer and when on spin-cycle the water flings out and drops to the bottom and gravity takes it down the hose.

    It has 2 timers, one for wash / rinse and the other for spin. You set the wash timer and run it till it stops, then flip a switch to drain the wash bin, once drained you add the rinse water and set the timer again. Then drain again and transfer clothes to the other (spin) side and set the spin timer and lower the drain hose.

    The timers are not like a normal timer on a washer, they are mechanical like a kitchen timer. But instead of going ding, they shut off the washers motor.

    This is a very simple washer that takes up little space but does it’s job well.

    I’ve been using it off & on for over a year and it works great. I got the model 45 as it does more laundry then one set of clothes, but you can get smaller ones that are easier to pack away.

    It’s all plastic with few metal parts I can see. But its holding up well and I like it.

    The advertisements say the spin drier gets clothes almost dry and it does take out a lot of the water on the spin cycle. But the clothes are far from dry. I usually put them in front of a fan for a while to get them 100% dry.

    1. I have the panda 45. Love it. I’ve had it for a couple years now. Yes it uses electricity. But like you I have solar. If you do the laundry when the sun is up, it doesn’t really use much/any battery power. It also uses very little water. There are other types of this machine on amazon for a little over $100 bucks.( haven’t checked in a while)

  14. Not to start a debate, just mentioning what I saw with the thing..

    My brother had a Wonder Washer and I was not impress with it at all. it did not take out stains that should have easily came out and the stand / a-frame thing is very poor quality.

    That’s why I went with the Panda Washing Machine. It cleans as good as any washer we have in our homes.

    1. Chuck, Well, the whole point of the article is without electricity.

      If we’re taking about ‘with’ electricity then the sky is the limit. The most high tech fanciest washer might be the way to go.

      However if there’s no electricity, what are you going to do?

      Also in response to your opinion of the hand washer, I would not expect a hand crank washer to necessarily get out a stain without extra elbow grease applied separately (with extra soap). Some stains cannot be removed even with the latest technology washing machines (just ask Mrs.J about that…) 😉

      1. Ken J
        I use Simple Green full strength on stains that are hard to remove. A nurse passed on this information to me in 2013 for body fluid stains that do not come out of T shirts. If it is a light stain I will spray it, heavy duty will pour on an rub material together, sometimes will use a old tooth brush on the inside of the T shirt to break up the stain.

        1. I use oxi clean spray, peroxide base safe for all clothing, disinfects. I spray, dampen with water use brush to work in fabric, let sit 30 min.. brush again throw in washer…. will get even most old stains out….

          1. (Chuck, Well, the whole point of the article is without electricity.)

            The point is to prep for bad times with or without electricity.

            I choose to use a bit of sun light and some batteries to make life easier.

            I planed for SHTF by buying / building things that give me a better life if it hits the fan or not. This is what separates a forward-thinking prepper from the masses.

            I don’t see my using self-generated electricity as outside the prepper rules as I planned for and took action to have electric devices to make life easier.

            PS” The Panda Washer is not a high tech fancy washer as you have to manually fill it and drain the water out of it. But what it is, is a reasonably priced simple washer that can do a pretty good job if you plan for a bit of electricity post-SHTF.

            PPS: as far as what else I have to use if somehow my electricity went away I have this thing that looks like and works just like the Breathing Washer (That I looked into years ago) pictured above. It’s called a Bathroom Plunger. I have used it and I have to tell you it’s a work out to use it with enough force to clean clothes. Anyone thinking this is easy should get a bathroom plunger (Preferably a new unused one…) and a 5-gal bucket and fill it with water and clothes and start plunging it up and down. My guess you won’t last 4-min before you get VERY tired and stop.

            After trying the plunger and the Wonder Washer I went looking for a better way and the Panda is it.

            I’m 56 and I have to tell you I got tired pumping the plunger up and down in a bucket full of water and wet clothes.

            Don’t forget you have to do it twice as you need to rinse the clothes.

            More realistic is that you will be doing it 4-times as it’s very hard to rinse all the soap out the first time and you will do it several times. I also noticed the same thing with the Wonder Washer. It took a few rinse cycles to get the soap out of the clothes.

            I checked with the Panda to see if any soap was still in the clothes by filling the tub with just water and I found little suds. This (to me) means the Panda rinsed most of the soap out.

            Ken I’m not trying to give you a hard time, I’m just relating my experience and findings with some of the things talked about above.

            I often come up with my own ways of doing something that others may not have thought of. Sometimes it’s OK to color outside the lines. I color outside the lines way more then most people. I adapt on-the-fly and by thinking things out ahead of time.

            My way is not the end all of how to do something, But it is how I worked things out to do what I needed / wanted to do and with the best results that will likely do the job now and after SHTF.

          2. I agree whole heartedly. Electricity is excellent!

            That’s why I have my homestead set up for off-grid (as well as a feed from the grid). This way I can run all of the electrical appliances that anyone would buy today (even post-SHTF), including the latest and greatest washer and dryer. I have a big LP propane gas tank too (1000 gallons), so I could make it for a very long time without grid power coupled with my LP appliances and solar power.

            That said, “if” that solar power electrical equipment “went away” (EMP or CME without backup equipment to replace that which got fried), my good old toilet plunger would work to an extent for washing clothes in a bucket of sorts.

            The purpose-built “plunger” for washing clothes would work a little bit better. The hand crank washer would probably be a help too. If things were nasty, boiling one’s clothes in a big pot would probably be a good idea also! (thanks Dennis)

            For some unknown reason (to me) some of you have taken offense to the notion of washing clothes without electricity and the potential ways around it. But that’s okay because solar powered gear is definitely part of a solution if it’s working! Do you have a backup? Just saying…

          3. Ken I found that if you drill some 1/2 inch holes in your rubber toilet plunger it works very well as a clothes washer. I have one right next to me along with a EE 6 gallon bucket with a modified (hole in center) gamma lid. Used it camping last year.

            I am glad some folks pointed out the benefits of recycling beer kegs into boiling pots for washing clothes. I forgot about that option.

            I am not against non-electric but right now I can afford a few hundred dollars for a small solar system and put it into a steel garbage can for SHTF needs. I think those items will hold value more than electronic digits in the banking system if EMP or Dollars to Peso’s occurs.

            I enjoy Modern Survival Blog because you let us share real life experiences unlike so many “Expert My way or the highway” Blogs selling us stuff.

            Thanks Ken for your efforts. Do you like Thai Food? Lincoln has a good place I could buy you and your lady a dinner sometime soon.

          4. I hear you regarding the drilled out plunger… but for a few bucks more I got you beat with the ‘breather’ plunger 👍

  15. Well this comment should start a fire storm.
    With reading this topic on washing clothes, and the one yesterday about living 1 MONTH without electricity, I am just shaking my head in dis-belief. You kiddin me!!!!!!
    I thought we on here were PREPPERS! Not enough water, for a month?!!!!, no one here even mentioned a wringer washer, or the 17 gal wash tubs, or alternatives to store bought soap. Soap nuts? Thanks Mrs. USMCBG.
    Or how to maybe wear an apron to save getting dirty, Thanks NH Michael!!! Laundry takes a hell of a lot of water!!!! Dirty socks,? well my toes are just now healed up. PLUS!!! it’s a lot of work!! Your elbows and back are gonna hurt.!! Plus, laundry by hand takes a lot of time. I only went a week, and did laundry twice, what an experience, You all should try this.
    I have to go back to work, I think you all get my point. Time to bash me up along side my thick head.

    1. Stand my Ground;
      Fire-Storm? Hell SMG, you ain’t even got a Match lit yet HAHAHA

      BUT I do believe there are a LOT of folks that read this BLOG that may not have the Stores that many of us do, so Yes not a months of water stored could very well be the case, BUT they are trying to learn and discover the means to Prepare.

      As far as options of Washing I do see a few very good ideas, I personally like Mine of taking a Swim with a Bar of Soap :-)

      Yes your correct on the amount of water it takes to wash clothing, but at sometime it will become necessary to do so, or burn them.

      So no “bashing” this time anyways. :-)

    2. Stand, Welcome. Clean undies, there is a lot to say for hygiene. As we know dysentery, diphtheria and cholera spread easily with out hygiene.

      1. Mrs. USMCBG
        I have tried the “Soap nuts”, in my washing machine. They worked just “OK”. A lot of my work clothes get grease stains from work, and they didn’t come very clean. So, I tried washing them twice with new soap nuts each time, and well, they are “tolerable.” Next time I will add Oxy clean.
        Now, my socks and skivvies, came out just fine, On the second load, I added some Oxy Clean, and they came out “sparkling clean.!”
        The soap nuts seem to work better in hot water than cold.
        What experience have you have using these?

    3. I make my own laundry detergent, dry form, from basic ingredients…usually zote soap, Borax, Laundry soda, and LA awesomes oxi product from dollar tree. 2lb/1$, which I mix heavy in with the other dry ingredients. I usually mix up enough for 6-8 months, and keep enough for another year on hand. I have materials to put up a clothes line and have clothes pins…I have an extra plunger and bucket, a laundry sink… and a pond. filtered water and non filtered well water/flushing etc. One month no power will be harder than without, bu washing my clothes will not be issue..Our problem will be temperature and humidity control. we have some solar components on hand, but are not to desired installation., viability yet. Slow and steady will get us there. One emergency at a time.

  16. Several years ago I used a laundry washer with ringer I got from Lehman’s. The thing was awesome. Back then it cost around $600 but now is around $900. On nice days, I would put it outside and wash clothes in the yard. When it came time to drain the tub, filling a 5 gallon bucket several times without making a mess could not have been easier. The waste water would go to the flowers or spread in the yard a few feet away. The washer still used a good amount of water for one wash and two rinse cycles. However, the water never went to waste down the drain as it was all spread outside. I believe this one is missing from the list even though it is pricey.

    1. INPrepper
      Pricey is all relative, something like that can make a world of difference,
      I love Lehmans, they have great stuff.

    2. INPrepper and all yall,
      Besides Lehmans,
      Cottage Craft Works is another great place to get old timey stuff that works, like treadle sewing machine hardware etc,,, speaking of treadle machines, wheres CD in Oklahoma?

  17. While backpacking: I would wash my clothes with Dr Bronners soap and rinse well. I did not dispose of waste water in the streams or lakes. Top priority was to launder my underwear and socks first and tie onto the backpack in order to dry out during the afternoon journey. Clothes were washed around lunch time. Washing outerwear was less of a priority.

    I also found that good quality wool socks were used and tolerated the daily stress and strain of wearing and washing every single day as opposed to cotton socks after months or more in the back country.

    I am a huge fan of Smart Wool brand merino wool socks as being the most comfortable and durable through years of use. Pricey? yes they are, but I was also making a living moving about by foot or helicopter back in those days as well.

    When you live out of a backpack, take care of your feet first.


    [ Ken adds: Here are a few examples: ]
    (I’m always looking for the ‘best’ socks for outdoors ;) )

    Smart Wool Men’s Hiking Medium Crew Sock

    Smart Wool Men’s Hike Light Crew Socks

    1. Cali, LOVE Smart Wool also. They do last well. FEET are so important to our over all health.

      1. Merino wool socks are great, they don’t itch and hold up great.

        I agree with the statement that price is relative. These socks are well worth the higher price.

    2. Is darning socks a post SHTF laundry subject? Given the critical need to keep feet healthy having a basic knowledge of darning would be a great skill to have. A smooth stone, some yarn (know how to recycle it from other socks friends?) and a darning hook. A quiet way to pass some time. Relaxing actually. I served time with a British Army sister unit and they taught me.

      And then there is the Peg Loom for recycling bit and scraps of clothing into…..

      Worth looking into friends.

  18. Looking over the replies thus far some humor (Thanks) and some good ideas.

    Why do laundry? SMG and Calirefugee said it best dirty socks and underwear will cripple you with feet problems and crotch rot diseases. After that I want to point out Sanitation is critical in general survival. Disease from dirty clothes and bodies is something we cannot ignore NOR can we allow the Grey Water from the washing of clothes and body CREATE disease problems by breeding flies and Pollution of ours or a neighbors drinking water.

    Any system that does not account for proper reuse or disposal of grey water is a hazard to others. How would you like it to find that that pond you get water from is someone washing zone/toilet?

    Equipment discussion is good, more ideas the better. A good wringer unit is important but PRICEY so far all I can afford is that double commercial mop bucket with a mop squeezer. For larger group washings a solar heated field shower set up and my 40 gallon version of the wonder washer is available.

    Ken why is solar electric not allowed? I look to the past for successful ideas but also look to what our pioneer forefathers would have eagerly used like aluminum screens for solar dryers as well as keeping bugs out of my house.

    1. @NH, It’s not that “solar electric” is not allowed, (My home is powered by solar electric), it’s just that it negates the conversation of washing without electricity.

      If I have a solar powered home, Mrs.J’s LG front loading ‘He’ modern washer works just fine. So, one could say that I don’t need any non-electric alternatives because I have solar power, right? (Even though I do have alternatives).

      Not everyone has solar power.

      1. Ken I try to remind folks that for SHTF you do not need to have All Solar Electric McMansions OR ratty tent in the bushes experience.

        We have time and resources (even the Social Security folks ok, my budget for stuff is limited too) to selectively buy items to do more than simply survive. That is part of why I enjoy your Blog Efforts Ken, I get real life experiences and honest suggestions as to worthwhile equipment. Lot of “Experts” out there selling junk sorry to say.

        A small 200 watt PV setup even with a pair of salvaged car batteries and some salvaged LED lights (or sigh older car bulbs) and maybe a blower can make a lot of difference in your post SHTF lifestyle. The blower would make your salvaged glass and bits solar dehydrator MUCH more effective, help with separating wheat from chaff, maybe help someone suffering from sunstroke along with wet rags?

        Maybe I am out of bounds here. Will find out if this comment does not get deleted.

        1. NHM
          With regards to blower,,,
          A small solar panel with a couple small 12v fans, real small, rigged on your solar dryer will definitely make a huge difference, the drying only happens when the sun is shining anyway so no need for circulating air if its not. Am pretty sure Amazon sells small cabinet fans for electronics that are 12v and i know 100% they sell small solar panels

  19. Saw a TV show about people surviving after a collapse were they set up a 55 gal drum that ran off a bike to wash clothes. Seemed like a good Idea. Used the same set up with an old car alternator to charge battery’s for electrical power.

  20. Am I the only one who plans on boiling my clothes after things get rough? Water is called the “universal solvent” for a reason. No, it won’t breakdown some stains, but it will loosen and dissolve most dirt and grime, even absent added detergents.

    Face it, we ain’t going to be fashion statements in true shtf scenarios. Boiling clothes in a large pot over an open fire pit will remove a lot of dirt and kill odor causing bacteria, and pesky critters such as lice, chiggers, etc. Absent detergent, it is wash and rinse with one fell swoop, saving precious water in the process.

    Hard to find the old cast iron wash pots, but a couple of 15 gal military cook/stock pots will suffice.

    1. Dennis,
      I think it was JJ over on Ready Nutrition who was talking about laundry etc after things go sideways who was saying for practicality sake we will be wearing clothes much longer between laundering, makes sense,
      You are right, we wont be making fashion statements,
      I have known a lot of folks living on the edge over the years, some would call them Hippys, or whatever, over here a minimalist approach can work, shorts, no shirt, or just light clothing, flip flops, good enough, works with that grey man approach, one friend lives in surplus cargo shorts, wears em day in day our, dunks them in a tub and sloshes them around with a little soap rinses em out and hangs them on a line on his back porch, works surprisingly well, minimal, but effective, he has a few pairs of long pants if he needs em but mostly doesnt need them, ive actually lived like that too, shorts and flip flops,
      Back in the old days laundry consisted mostly of boiling and stirring the clothes around in a big tub exactly as you said, at least in our immigrant comunities here thats what it was, and it worked, ill be repurposing those 55 gallon drums for laundry tubs, that tide and clorox will go a lot farther that way too, this is also a good plact to put that borax into that boiling vat of clothing, the borax cleans but boric acid is also a good pesticide. So helps with those other vermits you mentioned, life will be different, theres a few thousand people whose SHTF on the big island right now, lessons to learn

    2. That’s a great suggestion regarding boiling clothes – good for sanitary. I wonder how many of us have at least one BIG pot for such a purpose (and other purposes)…

        1. Chuck, I’m guessing here, but most clothes that are subject to shrinkage from washing in hot water are “pre-shrunk”. Time was when folks bought cotton jeans, shirts, etc. at least one size larger than they wore to account for shrinkage. I haven’t had to do that in years.
          While it didn’t involve boiling, I recently bought two pairs of overalls on-line that were supposedly the same size as I’ve worn for years that proved to be substantially over-sized. Thinking we might shrink them, we washed them twice in hot water, drying them on high heat. No shrinkage.

    3. Going to toss this out there for “Just Cause”

      RE; a “Big Pot” and I don’t mean the “Colorado Kind of Pot”.

      Get to a Scrap Yard or a Brewery and ask about a used or damaged ½ Barrel Keg, they are around 12” In Dia and about 2 foot high, Stainless Steel, used in Kegging Beer. Theses should run around $25.

      Take it to a shop or DIY, make sure ALL pressure is relived,, remove the fill adaptor, and use a Cutter Wheel on a grinder to remove the top, grind smooth the edges and Poof, there ya go, you got yourself a 17.5 Gallon SS Cook Pot.

      Absolutely perfect for washing your Clothes.

    4. – Speaking of just tossing a non-Colorado/San Francisco kind of pot out there – I have inherited two cast-iron 15 gallon washpots. However, at some time in the past, someone drilled three 3/8 inch drain holes in one of them. Any suggestions on repair? I don’t think it is possible to weld them shut. (Although, BIL thinks he wants one; I might have a solution ready at hand.)

      – Papa S.

      1. I have a cast iron kettle that has some rust holes in it. I would also like suggestions on a way to fix it. I have considered braising with brass rods but will it still be suitable for cooking food? And will the brass hold on cast iron?

        1. Cast iron requires a special rod. I do not know the composition, but an older professional should know and be able to repair a kettle. My Dad repaired an engine block in the late 1960’s, for a neighbor who could not afford a new one. It outlasted the rest of the car.. It does take a professional who understands stresses on metal relieveing those pressures and repairing in a manner that will not further damage the break.

      2. Papa Smurf & car guy;
        Actually Cast Iron can be welded, BUT you need someone that has the Know-How to do it correctly, Check with a “Good” welding shop.
        Would not suggest the Brazing them.

      3. Papa Smurf I think repairing your cast iron wash pots is throwing good money after bad. NRP’s idea of recycling a stainless steel beer brewing keg would be awesome!

        Thanks NRP I did not think of that given the huge number of micro breweries starting up around NH.

        1. – NH Michael –
          Only one pot is damaged, and as I mentioned, BIL thinks he wants one. Do I have to tell him he’s getting the flowerpot?

          – Papa S.

  21. Ok serious now, I have hand washed clothes when I lived on an Indian Res and in Globe, AZ where the miners did laundry, but that was in a sink with running water. I have the wash board and the plunger. In fact I have 2 plungers as I lost one, bought another and of course found the first one right away. I have also hung out clothes which I enjoy. In the hotter climates by the time you are finished hanging clothes you can usually go back and start taking the first ones down as they are dry.
    I would think if you know you are going to have a downpour, you could hang soapy clothes on the line for the final rinse.

    1. Speaking of hanging clothes out on the line (which we do whenever possible), it reminds me of a funny thing we witnessed a number of years ago when we lived in another place…

      It was getting on into the deep Fall season (New England) and our neighbor had strung up a full line of clothes (a pulley system from their porch to a tree). She left the clothes on the line overnight. Whoops… Well wouldn’t you know it that night we had an ice storm. The next day it was the funniest thing to see all those clothes stiff as a board with probably 1/4″ of ice embedded!

    2. old lady;
      A GREAT point on hanging stuff to dry, I have an electric dryer.
      Expensive to run to say the least.
      I manage to do 2-3 loads a week, so a LOT of dryer time mounts up fast.

      Thinking Ken needs an Article on simple cost savings around the home that would be include if/when TSHTF.

    3. – As long as those clothes are still hanging, they will dry. Even the frozen ones will dry after an ice storm, as long as you can keep them on the line and avoid any more moisture coming down on them. That’s the wonderful thing about clotheslines. Don’t have to have sun either, just a little bit of a dry wind.

      – Papa S.

  22. For those who have to move water a long ways I suggest the Hippo Roller. It is similar to the landscaping rollers used for smoothing lawns. It was developed for third world countries. Check Amazon.

    Stay frosty.

    1. Thank you Skeezix for mentioning the Hippo Roller. Just to save time for your readers, it is available at online. We hope to be manufacturing in the USA sometime soon and will then try to get it into Amazon (not there yet). Designed to last many years in tough rural conditions, it will also work as a rolling washing machine … 😊😊

  23. One idea I always thought would be good to dry clothes is to make a solar drier for them. Something like a solar food dehydrator but large enough to hold hanging clothes.

    All it needs to be is a tall box with a vent at the top and bottom with a glass door facing the sun.

    Never seen it talked about or anyone that made one. I looked for the idea (on-line) a few years ago (when I was working out my off-grid clothes washing) and found nothing.

    It’s really a simple thing, I could make one in a few hours. I have all the materials needed, including the glass. My guess is that it would even work in the winter as the sun would heat up the box pretty quick.

    I don’t see people drying clothes outside on a clothes line in the Winter, but years ago I saw it being done all the time. If that works, this should also work in the Winter.

    Anyone ever see something like this?

    1. Actually Chuck I saw an old hippie in Curlew WA some decades ago create a solar box hot air unit and linked it to a old gas dryer he stripped down and turned the drum with a bicycle. It had a solar electric panel powered blower and worked pretty well. Solar gain math needs to be calculated and positive air flow maintained or you get steamed clothing.

      In dryer climates indoor clotheslines work well but easy to have a indoor moisture problem. The recycled dryer drum system allowed solar hot air to be tumbled through the clothing AND vented outside to prevent indoor moisture issues. Moldy clothing or moldy houses are to be avoided.

    2. – Chuck Findlay –
      Yes, it would work. I can tell you why my grandmother wouldn’t have liked it, though. The moving air from a wind or breeze is what makes the clothes soft, and not requiring fabric softener. Having dried clothes in a German ‘trockenzimmer’ (drying room), I can tell you that clothes dried without moving air get stiff as boards. Other than that small problem, there is no reason why your idea wouldn’t work.
      Of course, in West Texas, we wouldn’t need it. Even in January clothes on a line will get dry pretty quickly.
      – Papa S.

      1. Chuckle Papa Smurf are we related? I was about to post about purpose built clothes drying rooms (think greenhouse with great air flow) that my older German relatives used to speak about. However in truth even my Great Grandma (who escaped the Brown Shirts) said the tumbling dryer was SO NICE.

    3. Chuck Findlay…I think that would work well, especially if you could add a solar fan to circulate air. I have seen advertised a Luxury Clothes Hanging / Drying “box” (for about one to two thousand $), which sounds very similar to your idea, but of course (?) runs off electricity. You hang the clothes in top (actually I think one side had bar at top for longer clothes/pants, and a double bar on other side to hang to rows of shirts/tops)…—You have a great idea…Time to Patent/become obscenely rich….

          1. Thank’s I will look it up in a few days. It’s going to be a busy weekend being it’s Field Day, the most important and busy weekend for Ham radio.

            Getting ready to head out to my clubs event in a few min. I’m going to be there off & on for the next 24-hours.

            And I’m in the middle of another project, the motor home developed a leak around the front AC unit and I need to tarp it till the rain quits so I can get up there to fix it right.

            And I am building a few copper pipe antennas this weekend. A 6-meter loop, a 2 meter Slim-Jim (it’s supposed to work better then the J-Pole) and a 220 MHz. Slim-Jim.

  24. I love the snapping sound of sheets drying in the wind. Big barn roof overhang lets wind in but keeps rain off the line during the damp months.

  25. I live in Quebec = I usually hang my clothes on the line outside. Sometimes, it rains. I had a neighbour who said to others that I leave my clothes outdoors in the rain. It gives that soften feel.

  26. I live in Quebec = I usually hang my clothes on the line outside. Sometimes, it rains. I had a neighbour who said to others that I leave my clothes outdoors in the rain. It gives that soften feel.

Leave a Reply

>>USE OPEN FORUM for Off-Topic conversation

Name* use an alias