Have you thought of how you will keep your clothes, and your family, clean during a time of power loss in your community?
I spent a small portion of my childhood following my Mom to the laundromat each week to wash our clothes. A washing machine was not a convenience we had. But imagine not even having a laundromat nearby to help keep your clothes clean. This is what residents in Moore, OK, Granbury, TX, and countless others in the aftermath of major storms or other local disasters are going through. It’s important to find sources of water, have soap, and be able to wash clothes, rinse and dry them.
Previously, I talked about how to dry your clothes without power and gave you ideas on how you can set up a system at your home for ‘solar drying’. Today we’ll look at ideas on how to wash your clothes, with minimal water, to keep them, and you, as clean as possible.
TIPS ON HOW TO WASH CLOTHES WITHOUT POWER
SHAKE OUT FIRST – there are a couple of tips on how to wash clothes without power and we will cover them here. First be sure to shake your clothes out well before any method of washing. This will get rid of dust and loose debris that only serve to dirty your water too quickly and it will save you time!
SOAK – as mentioned above, soaking clothes can really help the washing process go faster and more smoothly. Soaking helps loosen dirt and debris making it easier to remove.
USE SOAP SPARINGLY – you can use a soap bar and brush to spot treat specific stains, but when you get down to general cleaning, use only enough to add the benefit because it will just add to your rinse time later if you use too much.
USE HOT WATER SPARINGLY – clothes can wash better in warm/hot water – so you can heat your water over a campfire first. This uses up valuable fuel you may need for your personal heat or cooking, but if you have an abundant supply, it can be helpful. However, your clothes WILL be clean if you use cold water.
BOIL YOUR UNDIES – In situations where you need to sanitize clothes, you can boil them in a vat of water over a campfire to help remove germs that may be left behind. This can help stop the spread of germs that might otherwise pass to make others sick.
WRING “DRY” BEFORE RINSING – Instead of transferring a bunch of soapy water into your rinse bucket, squeeze out as much water from your newly washed clothes before you rinse them. This will help your rinse cycle go faster to remove unnecessary water and soap beforehand.
And before drying – wring out those clothes as much as possible! Use 2 people if you can, and if not, you can use some heavy duty clamps to clamp one end of the clothing item to a flat surface and then wring it.
Now let’s see some ways to help you with the clothes washing chores through ideas I found from Pinterest!
WAYS TO WASH CLOTHES WITHOUT ELECTRICITY
Of course, you have a traditional wash basin and soap. Or using rocks along a stream to scrub and beat your clothes clean. Or your bathtub. But what about some other methods to help wash your clothes that might save you a little strain?
This is a traditional view of a washboard and wash basin. The roughness of the washboard allows you to scrub clothes to get them clean. You can get a washboard through Amazon.
Using a 5 Gallon bucket and a plunger (this is a homemade washing plunger with pieces cut out of the rubber to allow water to pass through. Using a plunger helps agitate the water saving you a bit of energy from doing the process by hand. You can also buy a specially designed plunger for the job:
This one is from Amazon, but you can shop around for better prices or a preferred vendor. This is actually the method that I am prepared for. I know investing in a larger washing mechanism is preferable, but we had to make a choice between spending all we had on something to wash clothes with, or actually being able to prepare more fully in more areas and go with a low-tech option for now. But a better option is definitely on my wish list!
The Wonder Wash is a hand-cranked option that can wash a very small load of laundry with less effort from you. It’s popular with the RV crowd. I can no longer find the source of the review, but a forum I was on long ago had someone share their use of this and said that, in the end, this is really only good for clothes that are not heavily soiled and light weight, so take that into consideration and really research.
What about using an industrial mop bucket to wash your clothes in? It comes with a built in wringer!
Plans for a DIY washing machine that saves the back if you’re good at building things!
This invention allows you to use something like a water cooler to wash your clothes with just a foot petal. I could not find reliable information on if this is available in mass production, as it looks to still be in full development phase, but it may be soon!
While not necessary, a clothes wringer will definitely help with making drying go faster and more efficiently
Here is a video of someone washing their clothes outdoors!
I love her dark basin and will be checking feed stores and Craig’s List for one!
Granted, there are other ways to wash clothes, and ingenious people have come up with ingenious contraptions, but if you’re not an engineer-minded person, those contraptions can seem overwhelming. However, if you have the know-how – DO IT!
Check out Southern Prepper 1 and how he uses a couple of these products to wash!
YOUR CHALLENGE – make sure you have some alternative forms of cleaning clothes should you find yourself without power.