How To Wash Laundry During A Power Outage

DIY Projects

Whether you are camping, experiencing a power outage, or your washing machine is on the fritz this DIY how to will keep your laundry clean.

You will need:

How To Wash Laundry During A Power Outage
  • A water trough or basin
  • Water source
  • A caldron or hot water source
  • Propane stove or heat source
  • Clothes line
  • Clothes pins
  • Laundry basket
  • A kiddie swimming pool
  • Wee willing workers (4 is best)

Roll Up Your Sleeves And Gather That Dirty Laundry

Dump sorted, dirty laundry into something like a kiddie pool. This will serve as a place to keep the clothes needing washed so you can sort and determine what order you want to wash in as you go.

Agitate That First Load With An Unlikely Tool

I feel like the toilet plunger is a game changer. So get your new toilet plunger ready...

...then add a medium size load amount of laundry detergent to cool water in a five gallon bucket. I use a pitcher of hot water and fill the rest half full with a hose.

Add enough laundry plunging it down with the plunger until the laundry is able to agitate but not so much that it won’t move freely-- about 7 t-shirts does the trick. Start with light laundry moving to dark laundry as you are going to reuse this water. 

Plunge for 10 minutes. This is where several helpers comes in handy. 

Gently Drain, Rinse Then Ring That Laundry Out

Now gently ring out each garment into the soapy bucket as you transfer them into a large basin filled with cold clean water. A water trough for animals works perfectly for this. Other options include a clean garbage can, a large pot, or a garden sink. Swish the clothes around getting as much of the soap out as possible.

Ring the clothes out then place them into a plastic laundry basket. 

To hand ring clothes, lift the garment out of the clean water. Hold it by the top--the waist or shoulders--then twirl the garment grabbing the bottom as it fully twists. Now twist with the bottom hand as you keep a firm hold on the top. Take the bottom to the top allowing the garment to double in a twist over itself. Now twist in the direction of the new twist you have created. That is as good as it is going to get by hand. Large items take two people.

Hang And Repeat

Take the basket filled with your rung laundry and hang it all on the clothes line to dry. With enough workers, a new load can be constantly agitated with the plunger as the other steps in the process are completed. Just add water to the soapy water as needed—a pitcher of hot water and some cold hose or creek water.

Change both the cool soapy water and the cold cleaning water when you have completed enough laundry to equal a large washing machine load. For me that is one full clothes line.

Learning How To Wash Laundry By Hand Is An Essential Survival Skill

Obviously washing laundry by hand is much more pleasant in the summer but it can be done any time of year, indoors or out. 

If you need a garment washed quickly, knowing how to wash laundry by hand can be a life saver. Saving hand-wash-only garments and washing them once a week using this method is also a great way to get those delicates done. Many mom's use this method to hand wash cloth diapers. 

When knowing how to wash laundry without a washing machine becomes an essential skill is when there is an emergency power outage. I keep some detergent, a five gallon bucket and a toilet plunger dedicated to laundry use with my emergency kit. That way my laundry doesn't have to suffer during occasional power outages.


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