How did people wash clothes before there were washing machines? This question doesn’t occur to most people until the power is out for more than a day and they notice the hamper is overflowing. Like microwaves and dishwashers, washing machines are often taken for granted until we can’t use them.
Fortunately, there’s no need to take your clothes down to the river and beat them with a rock. There are many ways to wash clothes without power that are fairly easy.
Prep Your Clothes
Before you wash your clothes, there are several things you should do to make the process faster and easier.
Shake Them Out – Thoroughly shake out your clothes like you would a rug. You want to get rid of as much dirt and debris as possible so you don’t go through more soap and water than necessary.
Soak Your Clothes – Doing this will loosen dirt and other substances that have become lodged in the fabric. This will make your clothes much easier to wash.
How to Wash Your Clothes
A couple tips before you get started:
- Use detergent sparingly. If you use too much, your clothes will take longer to rinse and you will waste water. For detergent, I use 1 part borax, 1 part washing soda, and 1 part finely grated soap. 1-2 tablespoons of this mixture should be enough for most loads.
- Wring out your clothes before you rinse them. This will get out a lot of the soap and speed up the rinse cycle, saving you time and water. For this you can use your hands, a mop bucket wringer, or a hand clothes wringer.
Now on to the methods:
Wonderwash – This is such a great invention. All you do is pour hot water and detergent into it, add your clothes, and start cranking the handle. After a few minutes you drain the water, add fresh water, and crank the handle for a couple more minutes until your clothes are rinsed. The Wonderwash is available on amazon.com.
Laundry Pod – This is similar to the Wonderwash, but a little more expensive. The main advantage is you can wash more clothes at a time. This product recently became available on Amazon.
MobileWasher and Bucket – This is sort of like a plunger. Put your hot water and detergent in a 5-gallon bucket, add your clothes, place the MobileWasher on top, and move it up and down. After a few minutes you can wring out your clothes and rinse them. (If you don’t want to buy one, this video shows how you can make your own out of a plunger.)
Maid Rite and Basin – This is very old school, but it’s effective. Drape your garment over a Maid Rite and scrub the whole thing (not just the stains), then rinse it in a basin.
Bucket With Gamma Seal Lid – Put your hot water and detergent in a 5-gallon bucket, add your clothes, and seal it with a Gamma Seal Lid. Then you just slowly shake it back and forth for several minutes, drain out the soapy water, wring out your clothes, and rinse them by repeating the process with fresh water.
In this helpful video, P.A.W. Productions demonstrates several of these methods.