Off-grid homesteading is a dream for a lot of people. To be self-sufficient enough that massive power outages and other shortages don’t affect us gives peace of mind to a lot of people.
Especially when supporting a family, a measure of preparedness is wise stewardship. Like the ant, who is not a strong people, also prepares ahead for the cold winter.
Going off-grid comes with its challenges, however. Laundry is one of them, especially if you are used to the convenience of a modern-day washing machine.
Laundry is a weekly thing in a large family, and a dependable off-grid washing machine will make your life a lot easier.
You need a washing machine that uses less water and little to no electricity.
While an electric washer and dryer are effective and efficient, it is not suitable for an off-grid lifestyle.
If you are using solar power as a source of energy or running a generator, using an off-grid washing machine is a wonderful way to still be able to have clean clothes!
For many years I used a Twin Spin Washer. To this day it is still my favorite way of doing laundry(even though we now are connected to the grid and use a standard washing machine.)
For long-term stability, our goal is to one day own a solar system. Having a portable washer is a must for our family of five.
Grid washers are designed for a small space, use less water, and have a different source of energy.
Hand washing is always an option, but with five children, the amount of clothes I would have to wash is crazy!
How Do People Do Laundry Off-Grid?
We are so used to the convenience of an electric washing machine, that we wonder how people off-grid even do laundry! Is everything done by hand?
Washing laundry by hand is definitely an option, but there are easier ways to get the clothes clean as well.
4 ways people do laundry off-grid include handwashing, energy-efficient washing machines, non-electric washing machines, and using the laundry mat.
This method uses hard work to wash your clothes!
Using a washboard is an option, as well as a good ole brush. Scrubbing clothes is not for the faint of heart.
We might want to go back to owning only two outfits per family member after washing by hand for a while.
Energy Efficient Washing Machine
My favorite method of doing laundry off-grid is connecting with some source of energy, be it solar or a generator. Energy-efficient washing machines can save a lot of water (depending on the unit), and yet make doing laundry for a large family feasible.
This option is great for larger quantities of laundry.
Non-Electric Washing Machine
Washers such as a bucket washer usually have a compact design and are ideal for small loads. If you don’t have much laundry to do, then this might be a great option for you.
This is also an option. And you get a trip to town as well if that is something you enjoy. It can become costly in a hurry though.
8 Off Grid Washing Machines That Will Save You Time and Money
Manual Washing Machines
These washing machines offer you an option that uses no electricity. Eco-friendly and efficient, these would be great for small families.
A manual washer that’s designed to keep up with your active lifestyle. I love the look of this one. It’s sleek, and compact.
Perfect as an off grid washing machine. No installation is required. It’s on the smaller side, with a weight of only 8.5kg (19 lbs). Get a workout in while you wash your clothes.
The energy that runs this sleek washing machine is your foot, as you have to pump the foot pedal to make it spin.
The Wonderwash Non-Electric Portable, hand-operated washing machine is another option that’s economical, and compact. This one is available in some Walmarts and on Amazon.
It has a 4.5 Start review and is loved by many. It does not use much water and has relatively fast wash cycles.
If you have the time to stand and spin the basket, then it could be a great choice for you. It’s one of the more affordable options, at only 69.99.
It is only able to wash small loads at a time, so it takes longer.
Even if this is not your main washing machine, the Wonderwash could be a great backup for larger washing machines that require some electricity.
Avalon Bay EcoWash.
Available on Amazon, this Portable Hand Crank Washing Machine is very compact.
Weighing in at under 7lbs, it has a capacity of 1.5 gallons. It is very easy to use but takes a long time for one load to be complete. One review that I read did not recommend this machine for a large family.
It takes more time than using a plunger to wash clothes.
Lavario Portable Clothes Washer
This neat little washer uses about 10 gallons of water, 5 to wash, and 5 to rinse. It is ultra-light and compact.
My sister owns one of these, and even when they were not off-grid, she used it for small loads that needed cleaning. For delicates and handwashed items, this portable washer would be handy to have on hand.
It weighs about 10lbs and is 100% guaranteed by the company.
If you live in a tiny house, the Lavario might be the idea; open for you. Lehmans does not ship this to Canada, it is only available in the USA.
Only minimal arm strength is needed because gravity does that bulk of the job. It is gentle on delicates, and great for RV living, dorms, and off-grid homesteads.
Plunger and Rubbermaid Tote
This is probably the cheapest way to wash your clothes off grid, but it is also the one that uses the most muscle strength. Some prefer this method over using a manual washing machine. This video explains more about it.
Energy Efficient Washing Machines
I am all about efficiency, but manual washing machines don’t cut it for me.
In a pinch, they would be super handy to have, but if you have a generator, or are connected to a solar power system, getting an energy-efficient washing machine will ease the load of off-grid living.
We know there is a lot to do on a homestead as it is! I for one do not have the time to spend my entire day pumping a foot pedal to wash clothes.
These Washing Machines require a standard 120V plug-in, so it’s a lot easier to be able to plug them into a generator, or solar system.
Twin Tub Washing Machine
I have used one like this for many years, and it is actually my favorite way to do laundry.
It is a lot more hands-on than a regular washing machine, but if you stick to it, it takes less time to do a huge batch of laundry than one that takes an hour per cycle,
With the twin tub washing machine, you can reuse the washing water for several loads, making it an extremely efficient washing machine, that uses very little water.
After the wash water is too dirty to reuse, excess water can be used to water your garden. This machine makes laundry get done with minimal effort.
It also cleans dirty clothes really well, especially since you have the option of rerunning the cycle if needed.
I recommend washing five loads with one batch of water and then rinsing all of those in fresh cold water. The spinner wrings the water out of the clothes, which then gets drained back into the washtub.
Each wash cycle is 15 minutes long, and a rinse cycle need only be 3-5 minutes long.
Helohome Portable Washing Machine, Full-Automatic Compact Washer
They make some great portable washing machines these days. This one is another viable option and is marketed as useful for RV and dorm living.
It could also be used as an energy-efficient way to wash clothes on the homestead. It has an 11lb capacity and comes with Auto Balance, to prevent unbalanced loads.
Portable Laundry Washing Machine by BLACK+DECKER, Compact Pulsator Washer
The convenient design and large capacity make this another winner. It has really good reviews on Amazon, 5 Cycle Programs, and 3 Water Settings.
It can only be used for cold water washing though, so be sure to take that into account. It is also designed only for High-Efficiency Detergents. It is a classic washer, just smaller.
The water usage varies with these portable washers. If you are a single person, choosing a manual washing machine would be the answer.
For larger families, I highly recommend getting the twin tub spin washer. It has been a favorite of large families for many years. For awhile they were hard to come by, but they are starting to be more common.
Homesteading does not need to be all about forgoing conveniences.
Self-sufficiency does not have to be all about hard work.
An efficient washer can also be an off-grid homestead washer. If you are on a tight budget, the smartest way might be to wash your clothes in a 5-gallon bucket, with a plunger, until you can afford a better option.
These are 8 off-grid washing machine options. There is also the option of building your own if that is something you are interested in.
For a manual washing machine, my top recommendation is the Lavario Portable Washer. For an energy-efficient one that uses electricity, I recommend getting the twin tub spin washer.