“Projects” are my husband’s middle name. Since retirement, he has never stopped. He goes from renovations to lawn to garden to daily walking four miles with my service dog, Bandit (who clearly doesn’t want to walk that mileage every morning). But little was I prepared for his newest restoration–redoing the laundry room–and how that redo would affect me. From this laundry room revival, I have learned how to do off-grid washing without machines–and it’s fun and saves big!!!
Why Would Anyone in Their Right Mind Want To Do This?
Well, truthfully, no one in their correct mind would want to do their own laundry in their bathtub or shower, BUT if it meant that such behavior would help that person get their result, then they’d relish the idea of having their own personal, in-house, laundry-mat. And since neither Michael nor I volunteered to take the family’s weekly dirty clothes to our hometown laundry, I decided to seek a blast from the past. You see, I’ve always been intrigued by how my mother-in-law, Helen King, RIP, did the laundry in her bathtub for all four of her little boys. And I remember, too, my grandmother, Mabel, and the old wooden ringer tool attached to her electric plug-in washing machine in her basement. She dried her clothes in the fall and winter in that dark basement, but garments were hung outside in the fresh air near the grape arbor in the spring and summer. Ah, such lovely visions. So from that quest came The Frugal Catholic’s Off-Grid Steps for Clean Clothes, which anyone of any age can do. It just takes a little arm and back power.
What and Why Do You Mean by ‘OFF GRID’?
To clarify, I do have electricity and hot water in my home, but since the washing machine and the dryer are now unplugged and sitting in our living room, they are useless. Thus off-grid means UP TO ME, my physical strength or woman-power. And the whys of it were because I was too lazy to go outside of my home and get my laundry done. Your why might be because you live in a dorm room or on a boat or a trailer and would like to take control of this basic step in our existence. Also, I wanted to experience what my mother-in-law had done, so I turned on U Tube about Off-Grid Laundry, which got me off to a good start.
What About Space, Equipment, Costs, and Methods?
my bathroom tub
My Equipment and Costs:
two old green kitchen trash cans, each 13 gallons in capacity (we already had them in the house), but you can buy two to three 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot or get two 13 gallon kitchen trash cans—$15
Easy Go Products Hand Powered Clothes Washing Wand from Amazon—$23.88
My Easy Go Washing Wand, which I can use standing up.
3. detergent–I like TIDE (he), but if you want to go more cheaply, you can make your own as instructed from the internet; however, creating your own makes a lot, and I LOVE the smell of TIDE.—$12
4. handheld sprayer (the one I have is 22 years old because we have used it to wash kids and dogs, hopefully in that order)–$5
5. fold-able clothes drying laundry rack (chrome because wood doesn’t hold up as well) from Amazon Basics—$25.98
Twice to thrice a week, I take our dirty clothes, put them in the green plastic trash cans, fill the cans with hot water from the hand-held sprayer, and a tiny bit of Tide detergent.
I use the amazing Easy Go Washing Wand (see above) and plunge it about 100 times.
Then I dump out the filthy water (I truly am questioning how clean a washing machine gets our clothes), then using the hand-held sprayer, I fill the bucket again and plunge it about 40 times more to rinse the soap out.
Next, I wring out the clothes by hand using the old ‘fold and twist method,’ and….
I hang them up on the drying rack, which I have put in the tub—that simple.
Any Other Helpful Information??
I did buy a washboard like the one shown on the left. They do the same thing that my Easy Go Washing Wand does EXCEPT you would have to bend over the tub to use it. All old pictures I have studied of ladies using a washboard have had this tool at waist level. So save your money and your back, don’t buy a washboard unless you can do your laundry at waist level.
My husband and I have also started wearing our clothes for more than just one day–basically two or three days for an outfit. This action alone cuts down on the total amount of laundry I have to do. And if you are concerned that people will notice you are sporting the same garb for three days in a row, I guarantee you that they won’t. Do you remember what your significant other wore yesterday? Case in point. Also, to use fewer towels, hang them up daily to dry. Works wonders.
And my final thought is that through a little self-sacrifice called “extra work on my part,” I’ve taken the pressure off of my husband to finish the laundry room “ON MY TIME.” Now he can finish the renovation on his time and do it as he wants. Remember, as it says in Luke 6:38: “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” It rather sounds like somebody is doing their own off-grid laundry!!!
Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author
The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less to give and save more.