Clothes Washing in a Grid-Down World

If we are ever forced to live through an extended grid-down situation, I think many of us would realize how much we rely/depend upon our “common” appliances like our washing machines.

For that reason, having an off-grid secondary option will really make living a whole lot easier if things do go south.

With that in mind, I wanted to share with you how you can make your own effective off-grid “washing machine” using easy-to-obtain items:

What You’ll Need

  • Two 5-gallon buckets with one lid
  • Toilet plunger (make sure it’s a newly purchased one)
  • Liquid detergent (optional: stain stick)
  • Vinegar
  • Rope or clothesline
  • Clothes pins

How to Make an Off-Grid Clothes Washing Kit

Step 1: Drill a hole in the middle of the lid just big enough for the plunger handle to fit through.

Step 2: Place the following items in one of the buckets:

  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Plunger
  • Stain remover/stain stick
  • Vinegar (1/2 cup added to rinse water helps to remove soap)
  • Rope or clothesline
  • Clothes pins

Step 3: Put bucket with items in it into other bucket and place lid (with holes) on top of buckets (feeding the plunger handle through it).

Step 4: Store away for a time you need it.

How to Use Your Off-Grid Clothes Washing Kit

To use your kit, simply perform the following steps:

  1. Take out the items in the bucket
  2. Fill both buckets 1/2 to 3/4 full with water — enough to completely cover your clothes
  3. Put a small amount of detergent in one bucket (this will be your washing bucket)
  4. Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the other bucket (this is your rinsing bucket). Vinegar helps to remove the soap from the clothes
  5. Place clothes in the washing bucket, cap the bucket after feeding the plunger handle through the lid’s pre-drilled hole
  6. Move the plunger up and down for a few minutes until your clothes are clean
  7. Pull out clean clothes and wring them out
  8. Place soapy clothes in the rinse bucket and use the plunger as you did when you washed the clothes
  9. Wring rinsed clothes out again and hang them up to dry
  10. Repeat with another load of laundry until water becomes too dirty.

NOTE: You can get away with doing the above steps with only one 5-gallon bucket if you wish. The only difference is in-between washing and rinsing you’ll need to empty the water.
  

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