Are you ready to learn how to wash clothes during an emergency? Today I am going to show you my do-it-yourself (DIY) portable emergency washing machine. Well, it’s actually two buckets that fit inside of each other with one new change to my original style. Here is my DIY laundry detergent recipe that is so easy to make using Fels-Naptha Soap, Borax Detergent Booster, and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda. Laundry Detergent
You don’t have to be a family that is trying to go off-grid for survival, or you experience a true natural disaster to take advantage of the washing system I’m suggesting. It is simply a system that can be your Plan B when it comes to doing the wash when other options aren’t available to you like times when you lose power to your home for an extended period.
The laundry soap I mention above is another example of clothes cleaners available as part of your efforts to be more self-sufficien. That way you aren’t always at the mercy of stores for needed purchases, government agencies for emergency supplies, or even your family for some of the services we need if you face some tough situations.
I wrote this post for my blog back in 2014, and realize many of my readers may have not seen this article.
Here’s the deal, I could go a few days and not wash my shirt or pants. It’s underwear that concerns me the most when it comes to cleaning loads of laundry during an emergency situation. Yep, let’s just say it how it is. We all want to wear clean underwear. It’s no secret. I remember growing up and my grandmother would always shout “be sure and wear clean underwear” if we were getting ready to go somewhere.
Heaven forbid you would be in a car accident and end up in the hospital wearing dirty underwear. Enough said. This little washer bucket set can wash clothes pretty well. Oh, we could only wash clothes a little at a time rather than a full load of laundry, but that beats bending over the bathtub.
No Laundromats To Wash Clothes
If we had a major unforeseen emergency the local laundromats will more than likely not be working, unless the power outage or property damage is confined to a very small area of our city or county. Another reason we need to keep up with our laundry is if our washer and dryer aren’t available for a number of reasons. It’s hard when life gets hectic and we’re running kids to the doctor, ball games, or lessons.
I did learn something from one of my daughters about our washing machines. She tried washing her clothes in a short cycle. It’s like 15 minutes. Why didn’t I think of that? I would use less water and my clothes would be done in half the time with much more energy efficiency.
As a matter of fact, that’s the cycle Mark and I use now for about 90% of our loads. If we have a large load, or maybe clothes with significant stains that may require more time and a stain remover, we’ll use one of the regular washing cycles.
Keep in mind, we don’t have anyone in our family at the moment that has a large amount of greasy or lawn stains coming from work or sports. Therefore the 15 minutes works great when using our regular clothes washer.
Emergency Washing Machine YouTube
I want to share the YouTube Food Storage Moms did a couple of years ago showing how to use the system shown in the picture above. Remember, it now has two buckets as wash tubs instead of one, but you’ll get the idea.
Two Six Gallon Buckets
You’ll need two six-gallon buckets, the five-gallon buckets are just not big enough for the typical wash loads families need. I use Gamma Lids for the top because it holds the plunger in place and helps keep the water and soap inside. Yes, I’m colored-coded with my Gamma Lids. The color green is for the laundry. I had a friend drill the two-inch holes in the Gamma Lids a few months ago.
Here, my husband is drilling the four holes in the bottom of the top bucket. This is my new technique to give the emergency washing machine a little more friction with the water going up and down with the plunger. There is about a three-inch space between the plunger and the bucket sides to give the water space to swish around a little more when we wash clothes. Plus, this added feature will be great when we go to rinse clothes as well.
I have two sets of these, one for washing and one for rinsing. The four holes drilled inside the inner bucket will let the soapy water drain from the clothes after washing them. You will then put the soapy clothes into the second set of my washing machine design and “plunge” the soapy clothes in the freshwater to “plunge” and rinse the soapy water suds out of the clothes. Now the clothes are ready to hang on a clothesline, clothes rack, or fence.
The Blue Washer Plunger To Wash Clothes
Here is the washer plunger. It is totally different than the usual toilet plunger. It has four parts as shown in the picture, and can really move the water around in the buckets. Update, this particular style is no longer available, but you get the drift. Washing Tool For Clothes
Here I am assembling the washing machine for storage until needed. I place paper towels between the buckets because they are so hard to get apart when they have been sitting in the heat in my garage for an extended amount of time.
If you have this ready to use, you’ll be prepared for an unexpected emergency or disaster. All you need is water, and about 1/4 teaspoon of my homemade laundry detergent to wash and rinse clothes. I hope I never have to use this, but I am at peace knowing I have this ready to go. Just add water, detergent, and clothes. Woohoo!
There is one more item I want to mention. Do you have a clothesline or a way to hang up your clothes after washing and rinsing them? I found a clothesline about a year ago from Earth Easy. I had been looking for one just like this one in case I needed a dryer substitute in a pinch so I could dry clothes almost any time . I can fold it up and put it away, or leave it out all the time. It has a bag to store it in as well. My YouTube is on their website on how to use this clothesline.
Are you ready to wash clothes during an emergency?
As I’ve evaluated laundry chores that come our way during a power outage, local emergency, or in times of a natural disaster, I’ve tried to answer questions that I think may come up, such as:
- How do you wash clothes in an emergency? This post is the result of that question from a friend.
- How do you wash clothes during a power outage? Probably the most common situation when your washer and dryer aren’t available.
- How do preppers do laundry? This is an option whether you consider yourself a prepper or not.
- How do you wash clothes at a campsite? If you’re going to be camping in the wild for a while, this equipment is a great laundry option.
- How effective is hand washing clothes? I think this system qualifies as “hand washing,” but it’s sure easier on your hands.
After originally writing this post, I have since upgraded to a Lavario Portable Washing Unit. I have one for washing and one for rinsing. Please make a plan for washing your clothes when the standard washer and dryer approach is available. This unit will actually do blue jeans! So will buckets, and a washboard.
If you want to be a participant in more of a self-sufficient approach to living, particularly when things get tough, then this post is for you. You may need to make some slight changes if you feel you need to add bleach to stop the spread of germs. There also may need to be some adjustments to the length of time to wash things if you’re laundry is more cotton than delicate fabrics, etc.
Be creative in how you put this system to use. It could make all the difference when your family is faced with an emergency you hadn’t expected.
May God Bless this world, Linda