First, does anyone like doing laundry anyway, power on or off? It’s not my favorite although I find it more pleasant than filing my taxes or moving a piano. Fun or not, it is one of those little things that just must be done. Don’t be like the Terminator: “Laundry day. Nothing clean.” If you find this ordinary daily task well, tasking, during normal times, imagine what it will be like during a survival situation. Most people give little thought to this potentially dirty problem. Your ultra modern washing machine and dryer may not always be available.
Photo by Perrin Lovett.
Fortunately, R. Ann Parris, a frequent contributor at The Prepper Journal, has thought about it for you. As a Prepper writing contest entry she brings you: Laundry – Keeping Clothes Clean When the Grid Goes Down. Her ideas are thought-provoking and extremely informative.
Parris covers a lot of material. I’ve tried to wring out (pun…eh?) the essentials for you here. Make sure you click over to her original.
Powered Alternative Washing
Even if the power is out, you may still have backup power from a generator. Some of the following ideas are great even during “normal” times for those who want to save money and electricity. Parris recommends:
- New or vintage wringer washers;
- Camper washer/dryers or compact (stacked) units;
- Tiny powered or manual washers like the Mini Mr. Heater model, the Panda countertop washer, or the Wonderwash, a portable washer.
Some of these options, as efficient as they are, still require power. Some require a water hookup. What do you do when the utilities are not an option? Read on…
Non-powered Alternative Washing
For times when there is no electricity nor running water available, Parris recommends the following devices. They still do a good, professional job of cleaning; they just require a little more effort on your part. They require hand cranking or foot pumping. If interested, Google these:
- The Easy-Go washer;
- The Drumi (foot operated);
- The Scrubba (a washing bag rather than a machine);
- An old-fashioned crank washer (still available for retail).
For those who are a little handier, Parris offers suggestions for building your own bike-powered basket washer. This will not only clean your clothes but will give you some exercise too.
There are times when simplicity is the best answer. For those times Parris provides examples of purely hands-on methods for cleaning clothes.
She has another DIY project anyone can do. You can make your own washer out of little more than a bucket and a toilet plunger (probably not a used one). A bathtub or any other clean, sizable vessel can also serve as the bucket if need be. Add a little soap and go to work. Rinsing is only a matter of repeated the process, sans detergent.
More advanced bucket ideas are out there and Parris covers those too. Then she gets into really simple methods.
If you don’t have a plunger handy, you can always go with the good old washboard. These things are still available for purchase if you look for them. Parris also offers advice on making your own from ordinary household items. She notes that this method is excellent because, with your brush, you can concentrate on particularly dirty spots. Even the best machines can’t do that.
Of course, a washboard means washing one item at a time. Still, it’s exercise and it works.
Like a stew, laundry can be boiled. Yes, boiled in a pot of water, even over a fire. Parris provides the details; apparently one needs at least thirty minutes and a rolling boil to accomplish a clean wash. She covers when and how to use soap versus bleach versus pine-based cleaners. The leftover water, when cool, can be used to water a garden.
Last of all Parris covers the simplest method of all: washing in a creek. One can use the washboard and brush there. If no tools are available at all, the rocks in the creek will suffice.
After the clothes are clean, they need to dry out. Parris explains some of the wringing and pressing alternatives. Some of these can be purchased. Others can be fabricated at home. As with the manual washing techniques, these options give you a workout. You can also hang your wet clothes on a rack. There’s nothing wrong with a backyard clothesline either.
Photo by Annie Jenkins/Getty Free Images.
Ms. Parris did a great job breaking down the options for laundry sanitation. In her article (again, you really must read it) she offers many more tips for caring for clothes. These simple suggestions can give you peace of mind for when the unexpected happens.
In the past I have used some of these methods to clean my own clothes. They work and they work well. I might add that even if you are away from home during a calamity, there might still be an operational laundromat nearby. If costs money, but it might allow you to concentrate on other matters. Those options given above require a little effort but they are foolproof. Thanks to Parris, you can clean up even when the grid is down.
Perrin Lovett writes about freedom, firearms, and cigars (and everything else) at www.perrinlovett.me. He is none too fond of government meddling.