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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Off Grid Laundry - ideas and options
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# Posted: 18 Jul 2012 23:27 - Edited by: aktundra

While I'm not full time off grid, I eventually want to move that route. So I'm constantly trying to move away from my dependence on electricity. Recently I need to buy a new washing machine.

Here are the options I'm thinking:
1. Wringer washer off generator or stationary bicycle

One summer living in a remote cabin we did laundry with a wringer washer hooked up to a Honda 2000 watt generator. I like the Wringer washers because they are very old and dependable. It seems like the new stuff is very life limited. So one option I was thinking was a wringer washer. I've seen the bicycle powered generators and searched for a washing machine that is pedal powered, so I was thinking find a wringer washer and hook up to an exercise bike.

2. Breathing Mobile Washer
I like it because it's simple, inexpensive ($15) yet very little can go wrong with it. I was thinking of ordering one to use until I find a wringer washer to convert. I know it's essentially a toilet plunger, but from reviews I've read it works way better.

3. Build "Bicilavadora" 55 gallon washer
So I found some youtube videos on South American projects were people put a 30 gallon plastic drum drill with holes inside a 55 gallon drum. Obviously big things are figuring out pulley system.

4. Build Lehman's type washer
This is a rather simple design too. The one thing I need to figure out is the agitator. I would like to see one in person too. I can't justify $500 on a galvanized bucket with a handle!

Any other thoughts or ideas? What are others using?


# Posted: 19 Jul 2012 00:37

I guess it all depends on how much laundry you are doing, how much is clothing and how much is large bed sized sheets.

Personally it's just me so I use a five gallon bucket with a people powered plunger which works great as long as you have clean water!

Also, I have a soaker bucket that all dirty clothes go into so they can soak till it's wash time, easy and effective.

As far as drying, I do it when weather permits either inside by the stove or outside under the covered porch and sometimes I will lay clothes in the sun on bushes.

# Posted: 19 Jul 2012 08:26

i am going to get a clean new garbage can.add clothes and water and soap and let soak.get a broom handle and move them about and then use my wash board for stains and such.empty and put more water in and rinse and hang in the summer out in the meadow on the clothes the winter hang inside by the wood stove.hubby seems to think we can hook up a stackable washer and dryer to the if he can do this.i say forget all the above ideas i just posted.

# Posted: 19 Jul 2012 21:00

Remember that you need good water pressure to run a washer.

# Posted: 20 Jul 2012 13:26

Quoting: aktundra
It seems like the new stuff is very life limited.

Planned obsolescence.. The real root cause of a lot of the problems facing the world and our country. Its all about the money..

(puts on Tin foil hat) not to mention all of the inventions that were bought up by big companies etc to prevent the public from using them. (because they would effect the profit margin of said company).(takes off tin foil hat)

From Wikipedia

Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence[1] in industrial design is a policy of planning or designing a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete, that is, unfashionable or no longer functional after a certain period of time.

Origins of planned obsolescence go back at least as far as 1932 with Bernard London's pamphlet Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence

Robert J Ball
# Posted: 16 Feb 2018 10:03

Thanks for your review and comments on the Ball Clothes Washer by Breathing Mobile Washer LLC. Your feedback and insight is the real world for others. We enjoy reading and seeing all the information our satisfied customers post on the internet about the Ball Clothes Washer and the company.
The patented and unique design while simple in nature actually delivers a powerful cleaning action by maximizing the pushing and pulling action of water through the fabric of the clothes providing a deep clean and not just a surface agitation that most washing machines provide.

Thanks again for your post.


Robert J Ball
Breathing Mobile Washer LLC

# Posted: 16 Feb 2018 10:18 - Edited by: Rickkrus

See my other recent post. Works great and tones your arms. Tried the breathing plunger washer. Works well but for small loads in a bucket. Tried Wonder Wash same thing.

# Posted: 16 Feb 2018 12:12 - Edited by: silverwaterlady

Nope. Machines were invented to ease the workload.
Sure you can tumble laundry around in these contraceptions but will need to wring everything out.
I'm not going to wear my hands out doing that.
One reason why women today don't have hands full of arthritis is because machines do the work for them.
Both my Grandmothers did laundry by hand for decades before wringer washers were at a affordable price. They both had awful arthritis in their hands.
Im going to town to the laundromat.

# Posted: 16 Feb 2018 16:57

I second Silverwaterlady's comments. If you have the water pressure, a machine and the EU2000 will work wonders. Just hang your clothes and let them line dry.

# Posted: 16 Feb 2018 19:43

Most people off grid watch their electricity use constantly because they are providing all their electricity themselves. When it come to laundry it is assumed that they will have to go the route of a hand powered washing machine or tub because their solar panel system and batteries can't handle the power load of a regular washer.

Of course, the washer may only be used for an hour or so a week, and if you already have a generator for backup then I would run a regular washer off of that.

Of course, use the least energy hogging washer you can find. tLanguage=English&NRCAN=on

Models available in Canada (but also in the States). SWASHERS

Front loaders are more energy and water efficient that top loaders.

One model on the list (from Whirlpool) uses only 38 kWh/year. ails&ref=17034331&appliance=CLOTHESWASHERS&nr=1

# Posted: 16 Feb 2018 20:01 - Edited by: rockies

And something not normally thought about when considering your laundry options: the soap!

Check the bottom of the page for recipes to make your own laundry soap.

Gary O
# Posted: 17 Feb 2018 00:51

we have the panda

aaand we love it!!

gets clothes cleaner than our washer did in town
and spins 'em near dry

I think they retail around $200usd

I highly recommend it

water pressure?
We gravity feed it from a plastic 30 gal olive keg

# Posted: 17 Feb 2018 09:59

I had the little Haier. It was great. Sadly it died. Used a lot of water but very little electricity.

I upgraded my solar system. Now I have a Electrolux 2.4 with steam clean and all kinds of nifty settings. Uses very little water. Only a tiny bit more power.

Both machines spin my clothes so dry I almost feel like I can wear them.

Laundry machines are easy to run, even with smaller solar systems. I usually do my laundry in the a.m. on a sunny day to dry on a line. No worries as to power use.

# Posted: 17 Feb 2018 10:42

We have the same one Gary posted above. Water pump and inverter powered from a small solar set up.
Works great.

# Posted: 25 Aug 2019 15:12

Old thread but interesting read. I've been contemplating building a homemade James washer-type similar to this one ( Has anyone here ever made something similar? I'm wondering how you get all the water out of the agitator arm, I'm in an area that that has freeze issues. But it would be nice to not have to lug dirty laundry home every trip just to cart it back up there next time. The closest laundromat to us is 45 minutes away.

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