What’s Inside: Whether you live off grid or simply want to know options for doing laundry without electricity, this article provides all the tips you need!

Laundry is an essential task required in every household. Doing laundry without electricity is challenging. However, several methods of doing laundry off the grid can be employed to ensure that your clothes are clean, fresh, and presentable. 

The methods for doing laundry without electricity that I’ll present in this article work well for those who live off grid, as well as those who simply want to be able to do laundry during power outages.

Doing laundry without electricity or as an off-grid laundry option can be done by washing by hand, using manual washing machines of various types, or using washing machines that can run on a solar system. Off-grid washing methods are often physically demanding unless solar machines are used. 

Key Takeaways:

  • There are many methods of doing laundry without electricity, such as hand washing, foot powered washers, hand cranked washers, and wringers. All of these methods require some physical effort.
  • You can also use solar power, either through solar panels built into your home or portable power banks, to power small washers that use less electricity.
  • There are many benefits to doing laundry without electricity, such as cost savings, a smaller carbon footprint, portability, independence from the power grid, and improved physical fitness.
  • There are also many challenges to doing laundry without electricity, such as it being time consuming and physically demanding, weather dependent, and only being able to wash smaller loads of laundry.

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Methods Of Doing Laundry Without Electricity

doing laundry without electricity

For many, the thought of doing laundry without electricity or the convenience of an electric washing machine is inconceivable. If you feel at a loss when it comes to doing laundry when the power is out, you are not alone!

Fortunately, there are many off-grid laundry options. They range from completely manual options to using basic machinery to get the job done. 

In this article I’ll discuss various methods and materials for doing laundry without electricity. I’ll also highlight the advantages and challenges of this approach to getting your clothes clean in an off-grid or emergency situation.

Let’s start our exploration of off-grid laundry with the most basic options and move on to alternatives that make the task easier. 

Hand Washing for Off-Grid Laundry 

Hand washing is the very basic form of doing laundry, which dates back to times before electricity and washing machines were available. 

This method involves soaking the clothes in soapy water, often overnight, scrubbing them by hand the next day, rinsing them in clean water, and hanging them up to dry.  

The most basic scrubbing method is to scrub the material of the clothes against itself, or you can use a washboard where the clothes are scrubbed against the washboard’s corrugations. 

Hand washing is the most basic and traditional way of doing laundry. It doesn’t require any electricity, but it can be time-consuming and require much physical effort. 

Foot-Powered Washing Machines for Doing Laundry without Electricity

A foot-powered washing machine is another option for an off-grid washing machine. This type of manual washing machine uses foot power to agitate the clothes.  

A foot-powered manual washing machine (Amazon) is ideal for people with arm or shoulder problems or injuries.  

The machine resembles a bucket, but it has a spinning mechanism inside, driven by a foot pedal at the machine’s base. It is operated by pumping the lever up and down with your foot to drive the spinner inside the bucket. 

A foot-driven washing machine is an ideal way to do your off-grid laundry. It is more efficient than handwashing but still requires physical effort. 

Check out the current prices for this foot powered washing machine on Amazon.

Manual Off-Grid Washing Machines 

Manual off-grid washing machines are non-electric washing machines that use a hand crank to agitate the clothes.  They are a great way to do laundry without electricity.

They differ from foot-powered off-grid clothes washers because you use arm power to drive the machine, but the principle is very similar. 

Two popular options, and my favorites, are the Avalon Bay Ecowash off-grid laundry machine, and the Wonder Washer. These are two of the best off-grid washing machines around, and both of them are available on Amazon. The units have a drum in which the clothes are placed. The drum tumbles in the frame using a hand crank. This creates the agitation needed to wash and rinse the clothes in the drum.

Both options have a basin for washing and a hand crank that you turn to create the agitation. Rather than using your food to power the washer, you’ll use your arms and shoulders to work the washer.  

Another option is the Lavario Portable Clothes Washer (Amazon | Lehman’s) which uses an up-and-down hand pump method to wash your clothes in a bucket-shaped receptacle. 

Here’s a video that shows the Lavario Portable Clothes Washer in action.

Using A Wringer Washer for Off-Grid Laundry 

A wringer washer is another hand-cranked washing machine with a built-in wringer, or roller, to squeeze out the water from the clothes.  

You first soak the clothes in soapy water, then put them through the wringer (Amazon – made in China| Lehman’s – made in the USA). The wringer squeezes out the dirt and soapy water. You then put the clothes in clean water to rinse and pass them through the wringer several times

Passing the clothes through the wringer several times at the end of the washing process squeezes as much moisture from the clothes as possible and speeds up drying times. 

A wringer washer is more efficient than manual washing machines, but it can be bulky, heavy, and tiring to use. 

Wringer washers were a common way to do laundry without electricity in days gone by. In fact, when I was chatting with my 91-year-old mom about this article, she mentioned remembering her mom using this laundry method when she was growing up.

Solar-Powered Washing Machines for Off-Grid Laundry 

Solar-powered washing machines are an option if a solar system is installed in your home. Thankfully, if your home isn’t completely solar powered, you can set up a small solar system specifically to drive certain household appliances as and when you need them. 

Solar-powered washing machines are a newer technology option for an off-grid washing machine and can take the physical labor out of this household task. 

Solar powered washing machines are typically more expensive than other off-grid laundry methods. However, they are energy-efficient and require less physical effort. 

Small, compact washing machines, such as the Comfee Portable Washing Machine or the Pyle Compact Portable Washer, are the best options for solar-powered off-grid washing machines. Both are available on Amazon.

Drying Clothes without Electricity

Drying clothes on a clothesline

Thankfully, most of us are familiar with drying clothes without electricity. Most of us have used good, old-fashioned clothes lines.

I currently have a clothes line set up in my garage, that we use a lot in the summer. I live in a hot climate, and electricity costs in Southern California are much higher than other places in the U.S. Since our temperatures are often more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit for a few months out of the year, during the summer, our electricity cost goes sky high. Because of that, we cut back on our electricity usage as much as possible. Hanging our clothes on the line is one way to do that.

In addition to an old-fashioned clothes line, we also use a drying rack (Amazon | Lehman’s), and a hanging rack (Amazon) for the clothes we need to hang up.

While it may seem like a lot of extra work to line dry clothes, I find it to be a pretty relaxing exercise.

Advantages Of Doing Laundry without Electricity

Whether you are planning for an extended power outage or opting for an off-grid lifestyle, there are several advantages to doing laundry without electricity. 

  • Cost savings. Using an electric washing machine is expensive in terms of energy costs and the cost of purchasing and maintaining the machine. Doing laundry without electricity eliminates these costs, making it a cost-effective alternative. 
  • Environmental benefits. Using an electric washing machine requires a significant amount of energy, and contributes to carbon emissions. Off-grid laundry is a more sustainable option.
  • Portability. You can do off grid laundry anywhere. This makes it ideal for those who travel in an RV or camper. It’s also a good option for those living in an apartment, without washer and dryer hookups.  
  • Not limited by grid electricity. You will not be limited to only doing your laundry when the grid power is available. 
  • Improved physical fitness. Hand washing clothes can be a physically demanding task, which can be beneficial for improving strength and fitness levels. 

Challenges Of Doing Laundry without Electricity

While doing laundry without electricity has many benefits, there are also some challenges to consider when choosing off-grid laundry methods. 

  • Time-consuming. Doing laundry off-grid is time-consuming, especially if you have a big family or a lot of clothes to wash. The process of washing and drying clothes by hand can take several hours, which may not be feasible for everyone. 
  • Physical demands. Hand washing clothes can be a physically demanding task, requiring a lot of bending, lifting, and scrubbing. This is challenging for those with physical limitations or disabilities. 
  • Weather-dependent. Off-grid laundry is often weather-dependent. It may be impossible to do laundry on rainy or cloudy days. This can be particularly challenging for those living in areas with frequent inclement weather. However, you can set up a portable drying rack (Amazon | Lehman’s) indoors, but the clothes may take longer to dry.
  • Limited capacity. Most off-grid laundry methods have limited capacity, so you may be unable to wash large items like comforters, blankets, or curtains. 
  • Water availability. Doing laundry off-grid requires a significant amount of water, which may be challenging for those living in areas with limited water resources or unreliable water sources. However, they still use less water than a traditional washer. Using less water is good for the environment, and is also helpful in an emergency situation, where water may be limited.   

Despite these challenges, doing laundry without electricity is still a viable option for those looking to live a more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle. With some creativity, patience, and planning, you can overcome these challenges and enjoy the many benefits of doing laundry without electricity. 

Doing Laundry with Minimal Electricity 

While I’ve focused this article on doing laundry without electricity, if you live on-grid, but want to reduce the amount of electricity you use when doing laundry, or if you live in an apartment and want to reduce your trips to the laundry mat, here are two possibilities.

What I love about both of these is that they collapse, so they are easy to store. This is especially great if you only want them on hand for being able to wash some clothes during a power outage. These are also suitable for taking camping. Also, if you want to be able to do a bit of laundry in hotel rooms when traveling, both of the above are good options.

Using Portable Power Stations to Do Laundry During a Power Outage

If you want to have these alternative laundry options available during a power outage, I recommend picking up a portable power station, such as these, available on Amazon:

You can charge each of them with portable solar panels. If you live in an apartment without a good place to charge them with the sun, make a point of charging them by plugging them in when you do have electricity, so they are available when the power goes out.

While these portable power stations don’t have the capacity to power your entire home, you can use them judiciously to do your laundry without electricity (using one of the small washers listed above). You can also use them to keep your phone and computer charged, and keep a few lights on. If you get ones that are strong enough, such as VTOMAN Jump 1500 (Amazon), you can even keep your refrigerator running for a day or two.

The thing I like about these smaller units is that you can buy them one at a time, as you have the money, and over time equip yourself to run the most essential items in your home during a power outage. If you do plan to use these for more than laundry during a power outage, be sure to buy more than one over time, as your budget permits.


Doing laundry without electricity is a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to using electric washing machines. While it may require more time and physical effort, it also provides environmental benefits, portability, and control over the washing and drying process.  

It is possible to effectively wash your clothes without electricity, whether you are living in a remote area or simply looking for ways to reduce your carbon footprint. With some effort and patience, anyone can adopt this practice and enjoy the benefits of a more self-sufficient lifestyle. 

Other Articles that Will Help You Out During a Power Outage

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Books for Off-Grid Living

If you’re interested in preparing for living without electricity, or simply being prepared for power outages, here are a few books worth checking out, all available on Amazon:

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