In a pinch, you could hand wash a few small items in your bathroom sink with a little bit of Castille soap, rinse them out, and hang them to dry. But if you’re going off-grid, camping for an extended period of time, or just want a backup for when your washer happens to break, you might want to consider one of these non-electric washing machines.
Washboards are a simple, old-fashioned way to wash your clothes. But there are other non-electric washing machines that you might prefer, including a washer wand, a portable washer machine, a Wonder Wash Portable washer, and even an old-fashioned hang-wringer. These non-electric washing machines are great to have on hand for when the power goes out or if you are living off-grid.
In this article, we’ll talk about the best non-electric washing machines. Then, we’ll tell you how they’re used and which ones are the most budget-friendly. I like having a portable washing machine on hand because it helps my kids understand the work that goes into cleaning laundry and allows them to have a fun and safe way to participate in cleaning their own clothes.
The simplest type of non-electric washing machine is an old-fashioned washboard. You can still purchase simple metal washboards with wooden frames that double as musical instruments, but updated versions are made entirely of plastic. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
Soak your dirty clothes in a bucket of hot, soapy water. Then, piece by piece, rub your item of clothing on the washboard to scrub off the dirt. Then you’ll need to rinse your clothing in clean water to get the soap out, wring them out by hand, and hang them to dry.
This is a pretty labor-intensive method, but it gets the job done and is very budget-friendly.
Clothes Washer Wand
The clothes washer wand works a lot like a plunger, and it kind of looks like one, too. To use it, you’ll want to fill a bucket with hot water. Next, add your detergent, and then add your clothes. You may want to let your clothes soak for a bit before you use the washer wand.
Then, you can use the washer wand to plunge your clothing up and down. The soapy water will be pulled and pushed through the clothes, helping them to get clean.
Once you have plunged your clothes enough for them to be clean, dump out the soapy water and fill the bucket again, but this time with cool water. Plunge again to rinse your clothes. Then you can wring your clothes out and hang them up.
Portable Bag and Plunger Set
The bag and plunger are great for small camping trips. You can use the bag as a hamper to store your dirty clothes until you are ready to wash your clothes. Then, add water and detergent. Put the plunger in the bag and pull and push the plunger up and down to agitate the clothes. Next, pour out the soapy water and replace it with fresh water. Plunge again until the clothes are rinsed. Then you can wring them out and hang them to dry. This system is inexpensive and easy to use. Although it only does very small loads, it is extremely portable and doesn’t use a lot of water.
Lavario Portable Clothes Washer
The Lavario Portable Clothes Washer is bigger, sturdier, and will do larger loads of laundry than some of your other non-electric washers. It’s also simple to use.
Put the large bucket into your bathtub (or outside, if you prefer). Fill it 2/3 full with warm water and add your detergent. Next, put your clothes into the basket and lock the lid in place. Next, place the basket into the bucket, and push it up and down about ten times, then let it soak for 10 minutes.
Push it up and down another ten times, then drain the bucket. Replace the water with cool water, and then push the basket up and down another ten times. Drain the water.
Take the clothes out of the basket and put them in the bottom of the empty bucket. Use the basket to push down on the clothes to squeeze the rest of the water out.
This isn’t the cheapest or the most portable option, but it does the most laundry at a time.
Yirego Drumi Portable Washing Machine
This portable washing machine is extremely small and pedal-powdered. Pumping the pedal powers the spin basket inside the machine. First, add your clothes, your water, and your detergent. Then close the machine and pump the foot pedal.
The basket inside will spin, agitating the clothes. You can drain the bucket, then add clean water to rinse. The basket inside will spin up to 600 RPMs per minute. A nice feature of the Yirego Drumi is that you can remove the spin basket to clean the basket and the washer.
Wonder Wash Portable Compact Washing Machine
The Wonder Wash is lightweight, portable, and easy to use. Start by putting warm water in the kettle, then add your detergent and clothes. Next, close up the lid, and turn the crank. As the crank turns, the tank that holds the clothes and the water spins. If you spin it too fast, centrifugal force will force the water and the clothes against the outside of the tank, and they won’t get clean. So instead, the crank turns easily, and the agitation cleans the clothes. The only drawback is that it doesn’t wash a very large load at a time, but it can wash a couple of pairs of blue jeans.
Once you have agitated the clothes, attach the drain pipe and drain off the soapy water. Then add clean water. Make sure you remove the drain pipe, close the lid, and spin it some more to rinse your clothes. This may take a couple of cycles.
Drain the water, and then pull out your clothes, wring them out, and hang them to dry.
The Laundry Pod
The laundry pod has an internal basket that spins the clothes. It takes about 10 minutes and 1.5 liters of water to wash a small load in the Laundry Pod. Put the water, soap, and clothes into the pod and close the lid. Use the pedal to activate the spin cycle. After you have washed the clothes, use the drain hose to drain out the water and replace it with fresh. Next, rinse your clothes in the same manner. Once the clothes are rinsed, drain the water. Then give the clothes a final spin to spin out any excess water. Then just hang them to dry.
The Laundry Pod Compact
You’ll save water by using the Laundry Pod compact. You can put in up to 10 garments. First, fill the pod halfway with water and add your soap. Next, add your garments and let them soak. Then, turn the handle for 2 minutes to agitate the clothes. Drain out the dirty water, then fill the drum with cool, clean water.
Clothes the pod and agitate again. Drain the water, then agitate one more time to get the excess water out of your clothes. Remove the clothes, and then you can hang them to dry.
Calliger Clothes Wringer
The Calliger Clothes Wringer can be used with any of the non-electric washing machines. Feed your clothes into the wringer and turn the crank. The clothes will be pulled through the wringer, which will squeeze any excess water out of them. Then you’ll be able to hang them dry much more easily.
The clothes wringer is not cheap, but it will save you a lot of labor. Wringers can be dangerous, however, so use them with caution.
Lehman’s Own Hand Washer
The Lehman’s own hand washer is one of the most expensive manual washing machines you can find. However, it’s worth every penny. You add your clothes, water, and detergent, clothes the lid, and turn the handle. As you turn the crank, the clothes are agitated and get cleaned. Next, drain the water and put clean water in to rinse the clothes. You may also want to purchase the separate clothes ringer to get out all the water, so you don’t have to do it by hand.
When choosing a non-electric washing machine, you’ll want to look for one that fits your budget, of course. But you’ll also need to consider how much clothes you’ll be washing by hand, how easy or hard it is to wash them, and if you’ll need to store the machine in between uses.
What kind of detergent should you use in a non-electric washing machine?
You’ll probably want to choose the laundry soap that is intended for the garment you are washing, not the type of washing machine you are using. However, you’ll need much less soap than a standard washer.
Does a non-electric washing machine use more water than an electric washer?
Typically, a non-electric washing machine will use less water than a standard electric washer.