How to Wash Clothes without Electricity?

washing dirty clothes without electricity
Image Credit: Canva.

Have you thought of how you will keep your clothes, and your family, clean during a time of power loss in your community? You can wash clothes without worrying about electricity.

I spent a small portion of my childhood following my Mom to the laundromat each week to wash our clothes. A washing machine was not a convenience we had. But imagine not even having a laundromat nearby to help keep your clothes clean. This is what residents in Moore, OK, Granbury, TX, and countless others in the aftermath of major storms or other local disasters are going through. It’s important to find sources of water, have soap, and be able to wash clothes, rinse and dry them.

Previously, I talked about how to dry your clothes without power and gave you ideas on how to set up a home system for ‘solar drying’. Today we’ll look at ideas on how to wash your clothes, with minimal water, to keep them, and you, as clean as possible. Before hanging them on the clothesline, ensure your clothes are properly cleaned.

Tips on How to Wash Clothes Without Power

Here are some tips to follow when you wash your clothes without power.

Shake Out First

There are a couple of tips on how to wash clothes without power and we will cover them here. First, be sure to shake your clothes out well before any method of washing. This will get rid of dust and lose debris that only serves to dirty your water too quickly and it will save you time!


As mentioned above, soaking clothes can really help the washing process go faster and more smoothly. Soaking helps loosen dirt and debris making it easier to remove.

Use Soap Sparingly

You can use a soap bar and brush to spot and treat specific stains, but when you get down to general cleaning, use only enough to add the benefit because it will just add to your rinse time later if you use too much.

Use Hot Water Sparingly

Clothes can wash better in warm/hot water – so you can heat your water over a campfire first. This uses up valuable fuel you may need for your personal heat or cooking, but if you have an abundant supply, it can be helpful. However, your clothes WILL be clean if you use cold water.

Boil Your Undies

In situations where you need to sanitize clothes, you can boil them in a vat of water over a campfire to help remove germs that may be left behind. This can help stop the spread of germs that might otherwise pass to make others sick.

Wring “Dry” Before Rinsing

Instead of transferring a bunch of soapy water into your rinse bucket, squeeze out as much water from your newly washed clothes before you rinse them. This will help your rinse cycle go faster to remove unnecessary water and soap beforehand.

And before drying – wring out those clothes as much as possible! Use 2 people if you can, and if not, you can use some heavy-duty clamps to clamp one end of the clothing item to a flat surface and then wring it.

Now let’s see some ways to help you with the clothes-washing chores through ideas I found from Pinterest!

Ways to Wash Clothes Without Electricity

Of course, you have a traditional wash basin and soap. Or use rocks along a stream to scrub and beat your clothes clean. Or your bathtub. But what about some other methods to help wash your clothes that might save you a little strain?

1. Wash Clothes with Washboard

using a washboard to wash clothes without electricity
Image Credit: Canva.

This is a traditional view of a washboard and wash basin. The roughness of the washboard allows you to scrub clothes to get them clean. You can get a washboard through Amazon.

2. Bucket and Plunger

using a bucket and plunger to wash clothes
Image Credit: Canva.


Use a 5 Gallon bucket and a plunger (this is a homemade washing plunger with pieces cut out of the rubber to allow water to pass through. Using a plunger helps agitate the water saving you a bit of energy from doing the process by hand. You can also buy a specially designed plunger for the job.

3. Plunger

using a plunger to wash clothes
Image Credit: Canva.

This one is from Amazon, but you can shop around for better prices or a preferred vendor. This is actually the method that I am prepared for. I know investing in a larger washing mechanism is preferable, but we had to make a choice between spending all we had on something to wash clothes with, or actually being able to prepare more fully in more areas and go with a low-tech option for now. But a better option is definitely on my wish list!

4. Wonder Wash

The Wonder Wash is a hand-cranked option that can wash a very small load of laundry with less effort from you. It’s popular with the RV crowd. I can no longer find the source of the review, but a forum I was on long ago had someone share their use of this and said that, in the end, this is really only good for clothes that are not heavily soiled and lightweight, so take that into consideration and really research.

5. Mop Bucket with Built-in Wringer

mop bucket with wringer to wash clothes
Image Credit: Canva.

What about using an industrial mop bucket to wash your clothes in? It comes with a built-in wringer!

6. DIY Washing Machine

This invention allows you to use a water cooler to wash your clothes with just a foot petal. I could not find reliable information on if this is available in mass production, as it looks to still be in a full development phase, but it may be soon!

7. Clothes Wringer

washing clothes with a clothes wringer
Image Credit: Canva.

While not necessary, a clothes wringer will definitely help with making drying go faster and more efficiently

How to Wash Clothes? (Video Tutorial)

Here is a video of someone washing their clothes outdoors!


Final Thoughts

I love her dark basin and will be checking feed stores and Craig’s List for one!

Granted, there are other ways to wash clothes, and ingenious people have come up with ingenious contraptions, but if you’re not an engineer-minded person, those contraptions can seem overwhelming. However, if you have the know-how – DO IT!

Check out Southern Prepper 1 and how he uses a couple of these products to wash!


Website | + posts

Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.

She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.

Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).

Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.

Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.

Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.

She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.

Leave a Comment