off grid laundry

Laundry by hand
Laundry without electricity -- off grid laundry techniques

Doing the laundry without electricity.
Preppers have a lot to learn about laundry techniques of the pioneers, the Amish,
and even their own great grandmothers. It wasn't easy to do laundry back in the
day! Preppers nowadays can learn from them all, and yet take advantage of the
modern conveniences.

Get the answers to all your questions about off grid laundry techniques in the
following article on how to do your laundry without the convenience of electricity...

  • How did pioneers do their laundry?
  • What secret methods did grandma have for getting out the stains?
  • How do Amish do their laundry?
  • Why is fresh laundry important in survival, anyway?
  • What's the cheapest method for off grid laundry?

Here's how to do laundry the old fashioned way, without electricity...

How to do the laundry without electricity
Ever hear the expression of being put "through the wringer"? Well, take a look at a
laundry wringer, pictured immediate left, and now you'll have an even better
understanding of the meaning.

"Through the wringer" is an expression of hardship or difficulty -- and, indeed doing
laundry was a difficult and cumbersome task. Doing the laundry back in the day put
a tight squeeze on personal time, because of all the steps involved. Frankly, they
didn't do as much laundry as we do today, simply because it took so much work!
They waited for things to get really dirty before deciding  to wash.

That's a lesson in itself (deciding not to wash), but let's take a look at how to do the
laundry without electricity, starting with your great grandmother and the Amish,
because they are certainly our best resource for how to take advantage of modern
conveniences and yet stay off the grid.

Laundry Method #1: Great Grandma's way.
How did your Great Grandma do her laundry? Your great granny sorted, soaked,
scrubbed and then hung the laundry in the fresh mountain air! Next, she folded,
starched and ironed. Maybe she made her own lye soap. It was hard work.

To wash clothes without electricity, like  Great Grandma did, you'll need:
  1. A galvanized metal bucket to soak clothes.
  2. A washboard to get out the main dirt, like the one pictured left.
  3. Lye Soap.
  4. Handwash wringer.
  5. Clothes line, rope or a clothes rack and clothes pins

With the luxury of technology you can do laundry off grid with much less manual
labor than your great grandmother did hers. We've outlined several more ways to
do your laundry by hand or without the use of electricity.

Laundry Method #2: The Amish way.
Amish families get down and dirty working the farm, and they have big families with
more than six kids, which means they have lots of laundry. You can imagine that
laundry day (typically on a Monday) has a hefty load with farm dirt and kid dirt, but
they do laundry without electricity. According to, the Amish have
the belief that
"too much reliance on public power ties one too close to the world."
So how do they do their laundry? You may be surprised to learn the biggest secret
about how the Amish do their laundry.

How the Amish do their laundry
While the Amish do not live with electricity, they have found a way around their
religious beliefs* and they use a generator to help them with their laundry!

Amish people today, use a generator to power their laundry. (Go figure that the
Amish do not live with electricity, but apparently have no problem with diesel and
other gas.) In the old days; however, the Amish used a washboard (pictured upper
left-hand of the page) and good hot and soapy water! Families who live off the grid
invest  in the post-war era style wringer washers generated by diesel.

If you're looking for an Amish clothes washer, you'll have to scour the vintage
market for a Maytag Wringer Washer from the 1920s and then know how to rig it up
to a diesel generator. (The Amish pretty much have corned the market on these.)

This video features a 1950's era Maytag washing machine with ringer, powered by a
gas engine that uses a belt connection.

Laundry Method #3: Hand-plunger method.
The cheapest method for off grid laundry is a plunger and a bucket - it's the hand-
plunger method. Conventional wisdom in the prepper world is to do things as
inexpensively as possible and this is it. To take advantage of the hand plunger
method and make a camp style bucket, you'll need to gather the supplies:
  1. Two five-gallon buckets
  2. Lids for the five gallon buckets
  3. Liquid detergent
  4. Toilet plunger
  5. Rope or clothes line
  6. Clothes pins and a clothes pin bag
  7. Net bag (optional to hold and squeeze laundry)

To make the camp style bucket with a lid, you'll also need a drill. The video below
shows how to make a camp style bucket. Drilling a hole in the lid not really
necessary, but it is a nice way to keep the water contained.

Laundry Method #4: Rapid Washer.
While the video above is helpful, there's a better way to do your off-grid laundry
using the same principle as the hand plunger method: the Rapidwasher. Use this
plunger style laundry solution in the sink or with a galvanized bucket.

The Rapidwasher, pictured left, is the easiest and least expensive way to get back
to basics for emergency preparedness. Add the RapidWasher to your supply list in
case of earthquake, flood, tornado, hurricane, or other natural disasters. This
inexpensive, hand-powered washing machine, can ship to you for around $25. Note:
there are two versions (one with the handle and one without).

Laundry Method #5: Alternative Mini-wash.
You can't beat the price of the Laundry Alternative Miniwash Portable, a compact
mini washing machine! Pictured immediate right in blue and in pink, the alternative
Miniwash is the most basic type of mini washer. It requires a little more babysitting
than similar models with computer controls; however it is less expensive, and offers
great flexibility. You can pour water in manually or using the inlet hoses. You can
also manually choose the washing time and number of rinses, with computer control
models, you don't have this option.

The Laundry Alternative Miniwash has a 5-lb capacity, enough to wash larger items
like jeans.A very simple machine, there are very few places it can break. Upgraded
to a higher quality, longer-lasting, all copper motor.

Laundry method #6: WonderWash.
Get cranking! The WonderWash, pictured left will help you wash a 5-lbs.-load super
clean in just a couple of minutes. WonderWash uses far less water than even hand
washing, and it uses no electricity either.

You turn laundry by hand which is economically sound, and great for environment.
When you put warm or hot water into the drum, fit the lid in place and seal the
machine, the air inside the drum will absorb the heat of the water and expand.
When the air expands it creates pressure inside the drum. The pressure forces the
detergent into and through the fabric about 100 times faster than you could by hand
or machine.

Laundry method #7: WonderWasher.
Pictured immediate right, Wonderwasher (not to be confused with the similarly
named WonderWash). The WonderWasher will swish your clothes clean.

No more quarters! WonderWasher is ideal for apartments, dorms, boats and RVs.
Just plug it in, fill with laundry, add soap and water and close the lid. Swish, swish...
Things are better already! Won't wash as much as at laundromat, but it'll get a load
of socks and underwear fresh and clean fast.

Laundry method #8: Laundry Pod.
Much faster than hand washing your laundry, the Laundry Pod, pictured immediate
left in green is easy to use, and costs around $99.99 and ships for FREE with Super
Saver Shipping. This powerful spinning, washing and draining system will clean
clothes in less than 10 minutes! All you need is fill it about 6 Liters of water and 1.5
teaspoon of laundry detergent.

It's great for light loads, but if you're going to be washing heavy jeans most of the
time, then this is not the laundry option for you. Get ready to put in some muscle
power because this isn't going to be easy.

Laundry Method #9: Dasher washer.
Misty Prepper shares her Dasher Washer method in the video below:

More Considerations for Off Grid Laundry

Why is fresh laundry so important?
It's interesting to note that dirt compromises the integrity of clothes in terms of
warmth. Dirts and oils degrade clothing and can have a significant impact on survival
in select situations, so it's important in uncertain times to remain as clean as
possible. Also, cleanliness has a role in mitigating disease.

Why might a prepper purposely wear dirty laundry?
There may be a time to air your dirty laundry! Indeed, a Prepper may find it
necessary, at some juncture, to camouflage in society by appearing as dirty as the
others are, so as not to attract unwanted attention. That's when wearing the dirty
clothes may become an important prepping strategy.

Prepper's Challenge - Off the Grid Laundry Day.
Try doing laundry off the grid! In the simplest form, doing laundry off the grid
requires a water source, plus, you'll need a family size washboard, a galvanized
bucket a wringer washer, and of course a clothes line. Do a week's worth of laundry
without using electricity. The exercise will enable you to understand your family's
needs in the event the unthinkable happens and we're all forced to
live off the grid.

How are many preppers planning on doing their laundry?

There are better ways to do your laundry off grid, but if you choose this method:
  • Choose a biodegradable soap or you will be polluting your garden foods
  • Be sure to label the buckets with a Sharpie, so you don't mix it up with the
    food grade buckets for your food storage or you will have chemicals leaching
    into your food!
  • Mark the toilet plunger as well, so you don't mix it up with the bathroom
    plungers, which would be very unsanitary. By the way, a Sharpie marker is
    item 98 on the 99 ways to spend a buck at the dollar stores.

While living without electricity and doing laundry by hand isn't going to be easy for
preppers, it will bring a sense of satisfaction. Self-sufficiency has its own rewards
and fresh smelling laundry is among the treasures.

Laundry Facts
Think you'll have it hard when you have to do laundry without the aid of electricity?
You've got it easy! Get a load of these laundry facts

  • A "Toga-ly" disgusting laundry fact: The University of Chicago confirms that
    Romans were without knowledge of soap for laundry and instead used the
    urine of men and animals, which they mixed with water. It wasn't women's
    work! The Romans did their laundry in large basins and employed boys to
    stomp the laundry clean. (Don't try this at home.)

  • A job that "bites" in ancient Egypt. One of the worst jobs of ancient Egypt
    was the launderer, according to "The Ancient Egyptians For Dummies, a book
    by Charlotte Booth. Like the Romans, the men of ancient Egypt were the
    professional launderers and they complained with more than enough
    reasons.  The work required heavy lifting of linens in collecting them from
    villagers to the water. There, they used natron (hydrated sodium carbonate)
    and lime to scrub their linens clean using stones to crush out the stains. What
    really took the bite out of this job was their "laundrymat" along the Nile, which
    was filled with deadly crocodiles, parasitic worms and biting insects. It was a
    dangerous job that brought along some fatalities.

  • Scent your laundry with Frankincense and Myrrh to repel insects. You can
    repel insects with the scent of myrrh in your clothes. Zum Clean has no
    synthetic foaming agents, chemicals and artificial stuff. Instead, Zum Clean
    uses coconut oil, baking soda, vegetable glycerin, natural borax and 100%
    pure essential oils, including Frankincense and Myrrh.

So now you know a little more about how to wash clothes without electricity, and
how people of the past did their laundry by hand. When you take everything into
consideration, doing off grid laundry isn't so bad. You'll enjoy the fresh scent of the
great outdoors.

Happy endings...
No matter how you do the laundry, your work is never done! Be thankful for modern
conveniences including washing machines and dryers. If you plan to live off the grid
without electricty,
look into getting a generator to help you do laundry the way the
Amish do it. That way you can whistle while you work (as the buzz of the modern
convenience does most of your work).

Learning how to do the laundry without electricity will help you prepare for an
electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Related articles on self-sufficiency...

Are you working  towards self-sufficiency? Are you ready to do your laundry without
electricity to go off the grid just like the Amish people? We're looking to connect with
like minded preppers and hear your ideas. Write us on Facebook and Twitter.

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This article about
How to Wash Clothes Without Electricity, including Amish laundry, Japanese laundry,
RapidWash, Wonderwash, Laundry POD and more ideas for off grid laundry, was archived by the and was saved 14 times between August 8, 2012 and September 6, 2015.

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