List of Preparedness Items For: Doing Laundry


In a world without a functioning electrical power grid, a post apocalyptic world, a world knocked back in time, you will need to perform tasks that were once assisted by modern technology. You will need items that will help accomplish the job, and you will need to know how to do it yourself.

Most modern hardware will become ‘boat anchors’ and the conveniences they brought to your life will vanish when their energy source is removed. Some of these things you will be able to live without, while others will have to be replaced with alternatives along with a new way of doing things.

One of these is doing laundry. Wearing filthy clothes will present a health risk, possibly leading to infections. You will find it necessary to find another way to wash your clothes.


10 Items for washing clothes and doing laundry

…by hand, without electricity or a washing machine and dryer.

Laundry soap-detergent
You can make your own laundry detergent (for cheap) using a combination of Borax, Washing Soda, and Bar Soap. Or you could stock up on regular laundry detergent.
Laundry soap recipe and a how-to video

Wash tubs
You will need conveniently large wash tubs to do your washing and rinsing. Some people recommend using two rinse tubs in addition to the wash tub.

For convenience, ordinary buckets are useful to bring water from the source to the wash tubs.

The key tool for washing clothes is the traditional washboard.
Washboards are amazingly effective.

Rubber gloves
Protect your skin by wearing long-sleeved rubber gloves.

Scrub brush
An invaluable item for assisting with dirt or stain removal.

Clothes Wringer
To speed up drying times, although not a necessary item.

You will want to have plenty of clothesline rope to hang your clothes to dry.

Clothesline Pulley

Although you can tie rope around trees, having two heavy duty clothesline rope pulleys, Pulley hooks, and a Clothesline tightener will make the job of hanging clothes much easier.

Clothes pins
To avoid clothes blowing off the line, you will need plenty of these. Don’t forget the clothespin bag for convenience sake.


Other considerations:

Having a water source nearby is an obvious consideration. If you don’t live near a natural water source, you may want to consider a well with a hand pump or a pump powered by alternative energy (solar?). You could also ‘travel’ to a source of water on laundry day, provided it’s within reach.

You don’t need hot water to wash clothes. However heated water will be more effective. If your buckets are metal, you could heat the water over a fire or burner.

Remember that you should always have spares. One is none and two is one.


  1. I am looking forward to purchasing a non-electric little machine called the wonder washer. (For days I am to lazy to wash it all by hand.)
    Here is only one site to check it out, I am sure there are others:
    Does any one know where to buy a hand crank wringer?
    Lehmans perhaps?

        I can buy a little washer for $50 and have to pay over three times that much to get the water back out!
        Oy Vey…

        1. I’m not sure, but I’m willing to bet that a washboard will do a better job than these washers like ‘wonderwash’, etc. I don’t think there’s any way around not putting in some ‘elbow grease’ when there’s no power ;) The purpose-built wringer is very expensive, yes, but is one of those items that may be worth it for some, and not for others. It’s all a matter of drying time. You could use a clean ‘stick’ or a pipe to ring your clothes, or you could simply wring them by twisting them in hand, etc.

  2. Point taken, perhaps it is tub and plunger for me after all,
    Thanks Ken,
    For another voice of reason.

    1. I only mention it because I had bought one of these years ago, and wasn’t terribly impressed. As it turns out, the good old fashioned way seems to work best… ;)

  3. I love making my own homemade laundry detergent. I use the same ingredients you have listed. I , however, found out if you don’t have washing soda or simply can’t find any, you can make your own from baking soda. Just place a cup of baking soda in a cake pan in the oven, 225* for an hour, stir 3-4 times. It converts it into washing soda !!!! I have done this twice and it works. Also I have used homemade olive oil soap scented with lavender and it smells wonderful…….KEEP PREPPIN’

  4. Don’t forget to buy some good quality U.S. made (or western country made) clothes. El cheapo third world target type clothing will be shredded by washing with a old fashioned washboard and decent soap.

    1. Beano, that’s a very good point to make. Stocking up with the right clothes, and those of good heavy-duty quality, is another very good thing to be aware of when it comes to prepping.

  5. I do not have trees that will conveniently support a clothes line. (too far apart) A good alternative is a heavy duty drying rack. I can fit a lot of laundry on it and it can be brought inside if necessary.

    Also if you have the items necessary to do laundry w/out electricity, I suggest you try them out and get the hang of it. During pleasant weather I will get my kids to help me do some laundry outside to practice.

  6. I prefer this plunger washer kit over a wash board. It does an awesome job. I also would add a clothes drying rack to your list of must have items.

    I totally agree with Lori that you need to practice regularly.

  7. Best clothing for non apparent prepping……… DICKIES!! Yep the old Walmart work clothing………… Will last YEARS hand washing in rivers.

    1. Keeper,
      i wear DICKIES everyday. they are my favorites and you can’t wear them out. they last for YEARS.
      10 or 15 years later when the collars start falling off, then i’ll wear them for a few more years. i don’t know why the DW doesn’t like me to going into town with her : ) ,,,,,that and speaking my mind to people.
      ya’ll have a good day!

  8. I used a wonderwash in Afghanistan for my clothes including uniforms. Afghanistan is a perfect example of absolute filth! The Wonderwash got everything clean in about 90 seconds. I still have one and use it for items I don’t want to wash in my washing machine for various reasons.

  9. I use a 5 gallon bucket for washing and a saucepan for the gyration. I use a 17 gallon tub for rinsing. Nothing kills soap suds like cold water. I wring everything out by hand, but have been thinking about getting a mop wringer…especially for jeans.

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