Off Grid Laundry – Lots of Options!

By Bev Sandlin

Laundry has come up a number of times as a preparedness concern. It was only about 20 years ago when I finally upgraded (My daughter used to say we “upgraded” at the antique store) enough to quit using my old wringer washer, and in the winter time hang the clothes out to “freeze dry” on the line, bringing them in and standing them up against the walls to eventually “dry” out enough to be useable again.

Those are not fond memories of a simpler time, as washing like this makes the hands and fingers raw. And when my daughter was little and helping me, she ran her fingers through the ringer more than once. And never wear a ruffled blouse while doing laundry, yes, I literally got “my tit in a wringer” – not fun!

FYI To make your wringer not break buttons and zippers, just zip tie a thin sponge around either end – just enough give to not break anything but get the water out.

I live on the edge of the prairie and we have several great wind farms within 10 miles of here. I’ve had a hankering to try building this wind driven washing machine for a while just as an experiment to see if I have enough wind to make this work as this property is nestled in a valley with an old RR trussel blocking the west wind and that is what got me back on the subject of laundry.

wind washing machine

I stumbled across this wonderful series of 3 posts on laundry off grid that have some unique ideas that I thought you may find valuable. 5 gallon bucket holey

She is working with a standard plunger type manual washer in a bucket, but her rinse setup is what impressed me! Three 5 or 6 gallon buckets, bottom one holds the grey water for reuse, middle one is full of holes to press the water out of the clothes, top one has a lid and you just sit on it to rinse the water out of the clothes. Very simple, low cost, and ingenious!

charming spinnerAnd what about getting the clothes even drier? The Charming Spinner! Amish built, or at least sold, works with an off-grid battery type setup and regular electric, and Lordy, I want one!

There is no such thing as an energy efficient dryer. Although the ones that have a solid top with the lint removal in front toward the bottom are about 20% more efficient. The thing is that the clothes come out of the washing machine wet, even if you spin them twice. She swears that this little spinner can save 1/2 the time in drying clothes – and yes, you have the grey water to reuse.

So I called the Amish owned store in Charm, OH at (330)893-3033 and chatted with them – about $240 and he wasn’t sure of the shipping. The gal asked that you mention her website when calling, not that she gets a kickback, it is just good will, I did:  She said, “They are great at answering questions and giving tips about using it as well.  We’ve used ours for four months now, five days a week, and we are happy!  No more sore fingers from wringing out by hand.”

I save an easy $75 a year hanging my clothes out during the summer. However, the winter is dryer time. I’m thinking the Charming Spinner would pay for itself in about 2 years and be there in a preparedness situation. Please let me know if you have any experience with this little machine as I had not heard of it before.

Homemade washing machine

 Then I ran across this really neat manual washing machine – the trick is in the basket, it agitates! Go here for the information on that:

janitors bucket

 And then I ran across this article by a gal who is using a simple janitor’s bucket to rinse and wring out her clothes – accessible, simple and effective, I like it! Read her story here:

laundry rack insideAnd then all of the bad memories flooded back in with this gal’s article on winter manual laundry…

And then manual drying tips for winter drying here:

Plus I ran across some very intriguing pictures of different setups for manual drying in the house. Manual drying in winter in the house adds needed moisture to the air, especially if you heat with wood. So, I’ll end this article with lots of pictures – food for thought as winter is just around the corner…

shower dryer built in

shower dryer

ladder dryer

built in dryer2

clothes pin dryer

In Minnesota we know these as “mitten driers”.  :-D

dryer sock

hanging dryer2

radical drying shirt

laundry on line


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