100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 41 – How to Wash Clothes Without a Machine

laundry-963150Being a homesteader is dirty work and when you live off grid it becomes increasingly more difficult to launder your clothing. Dirt, mud, and compost goes EVERYWHERE!

Many choose to take their clothing to town and get it done at a laundry mat but there are many other methods for washing your laundry at home, even if you don’t have a washing machine.

  1. Laundry plunger – There are several versions of the “laundry plunger“. Some are available for purchase online but several creative homesteaders have made their own by purchasing a new toilet plunger and making several holes in it. The idea is to put laundry in a clean 5 gallon bucket with a hole drilled in the lid for the handle of the plunger and insert the clothing, warm water, and laundry soap in the bucket. The plunger acts as an agitator and clothing comes out pretty darn clean. Rinsing in clean cold water, then hanging on the line are the final steps of the process.
  2. Washboard and basin – This is old school but effective. An old fashioned washboard can still be found online or in a local hardware store. They work well and come in several different models or sizes. First, soak your clothing in soapy water. Then squeeze and rub the clothing against the board to force the dirt and soapy water through the board. Once no more soapy water comes out, the clothing is thrown into cold rinse water and rinsed until the soap is gone, then hung to dry.
  3. Off grid manual machine – There are also a number of off-grid machines available. Some require hand or foot actions to spin the machine, others are solar. They vary in price, quality, and simplicity. You’ll have to be the judge of what would work best for your situation.


If you don’t have laundry facilities, how do you launder your clothes at home? Have you ever tried any of the methods we mentioned above?

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