“Off Grid Laundry Saves Big” by Martha Wild King M.Ed.–July 2019

“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 (whom 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.  For 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 end 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 home-town laundry, I decided to seek a blast from the past.  You see, I’ve always been intrigued by the story of how my mother-in-law, Helen King,  RIP, did the laundry for all four of her little boys in her bathtub.  And I remember, too, my grandmother, Mabel, and the old wooden ringer tool attached to her electric-plug-in-washing-machine found in her basement.  Drying in the fall and winter was in that dark basement, but  in the spring and summer, clothes were hung outside in the fresh air nearby the grape arbor.  Ah such lovely visions brought me to reality, for anyone who has spent any time in any style–plain, fancy, or plain ugly–laundry mat, knows  such places eat up your hours and your money.  So from that quest came The Frugal Catholic’s Five Simple Steps for Clean Clothes which anyone of any age can do.

             What and Why Do You Mean by ‘OFF GRID’?

Now just 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 manpower 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 are living 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 “How We Do Off Grid Laundry in the Winter” by Simply Starry Sustainable Living with God.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSm7KMNQxLI   Simply Starry got me off to a good start.

                  What About Space, Equipment, and  Costs?

My Space:

  1. my bathroom tub

My Equipment:

  1. 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 just get two 13 gallon kitchen trash cans—$15

  2. Easy Go Products Hand powered Clothes Washing Wand from Amazon—$23.88

My Easy Go Washing Wand which I can use standing up.

  1. 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

  2. hand held sprayer  (the one I have dates about 22 years ago because we have used it to wash kids and dogs, hopefully in that order)–$5

  3. fold-able clothes drying laundry rack (chrome because wood doesn’t hold up as well) from Amazon Basics—$25.98

My Method:

  1.  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.

  2. I use the AMAZING Easy Go Washing Wand (see above) and plunge it about 100 times.

  3. Then I dump out the very dirty 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.

  4. Next I wring out the clothes by hand using the old ‘fold and twist method’, and….

  5. I hang them up on the drying rack which I have put in the tub. That simple.

Any Other Helpful Information??

Yes, I did buy a washboard like the one shown at the top.  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 which I have studied of ladies using a washboard have had this tool at waist level.  So save your money and your back and don’t buy a washboard unless you can do  your laundry at waist level.

My husband and I have also starting 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 less 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.”  Kinda sounds like somebody is doing their own laundry!!!

Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less