Have Clean Clothes Without Running Water

Doing Laundry Without a Washing Machine

If the electricity is out or the pipes are broken, laundry will be a problem unless you have an alternative way of washing your clothes. If you have children, this could definitely be a problem.

There are a few different methods that can get the job done. While there are other options out as well, here are some popular choices. If you don't have a choice or would rather save your potable water for drinking, non-potable water is fine for cleaning clothes. Just wear rubber gloves, the kind sold for dishwashing and keep the gloves off of your face.

No City Water
Alternative Laundry Methods

Choose the laundry kit you would like to build.

Bucket Method

This method is similar to the other methods except your hands will be doing all of the work in providing the needed scrubbing and aggitation.

Items Needed
  • 2.5 to 5-gallon bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • Laundry soap
  • Water
Directions
Step 1Add clothes, laundry soap, and water
  • Place your clothes into a clean bucket and add a small amount of soap.
  • You will be using a much smaller amount than you are used to using. Powder or liquid is fine.
  • For best results, store soap that is free of scents, dyes, and other chemicals. This soap will work best on a broader range of clothing types.
  • Fill your bucket with the appropriate temperature of water, covering the clothes completely.
Step 2Wash with hands
  • Using your hands, simply agitate the clothes well, working the soapy water through each garment.
  • Once you’re done, let the garments soak for about 15 min.
  • Dump wash water down the sink or on your grass.
Step 3Rinse well
  • Refill bucket with fresh rinse water and agitate the clothing to get the soap out.
  • Dump the rinse water and repeat until no soap residue is left.
  • Gently press on each garment separately to remove as much water as possible. Avoid twisting or wringing as this can stretch and add undo stress to your clothes.
Step 4Dry
  • Line or flat dry.
Source: branchingtogether.com

Bucket & Plunger Method

With this method, the plunger acts as the agitator but the process will definitely give your hands, wrists, and arms a great workout!

Items Needed
  • 5-gallon plastic paint bucket with lid, new or cleaned
  • Toilet plunger, never been used
  • Drill bit
  • Rubber gloves
  • Laundry soap
  • Water
Directions
Step 1Drill or cut hole in the lid
  • In the center of the lid, create a small hole (enough only to fit the plunger handle with a little wiggle room to spare)
  • Equipment you can use to cut this hole: Hole Saw Drill Bit (If you don’t own one, ask around or buy, they don’t cost much.)
  • Safety first: wear protective gear while cutting
Step 2Drill or cut hole in the plunger
  • Create 10-12 holes around the plunger itself. This allows for easier movement of the plunger and makes the process easier.
  • Equipment you can use to cut this hole: Hole Saw Drill Bit
Step 3Add your clothes, laundry soap, and water
  • Fill the bucket with dirty clothes. Add as little soap as possible that will still get the job done. Add water, covering all clothes.
Step 4Secure the lid and plunge away
  • Close the lid tightly to avoid splashing water. Take the handle and push and pull for several minutes. This mixes the soap throughout the bucket and provides the agitation necessary to remove dirt.
  • Pour used water down the sink and rinse off your plunger.
Step 5Rinse well
  • Fill the bucket with clean water and plunge away again, making sure that all soap has been removed. Dump the rinse water and repeat until no soap residue is left.
  • Gently press on each garment separately to remove as much water as possible. Avoid twisting or wringing as this can stretch and add undo stress to your clothes.
Step 6Dry
  • Line or flay dry

Washboard Method

Before the advent of the washing machine, this was the way many washed clothes. And, many parts of the world use this method today. While there are replicas of the washboards used back in the day, most of which may do the job just fine, there is one company remaining today that has been making them since 1895.

Items Needed
  • Washboard
  • Two buckets
  • Rubber gloves
  • Soap
  • Water
Washboard Types
Materials
  • Galvanized Steel
  • Stainless Steel
Texture
  • Wavy
  • Spiral
Sizes
  • Large
  • Medium
  • Small
  • It's best to match the washboard size with the garment size being washed.
Helpful Tip
  • It's helpful if one of the two buckets fits the size of your washboard.
Items Needed
  • Washboard
  • Two buckets
  • Rubber gloves
  • Soap
  • Water
Directions
Step 1Add clothes, laundry soap, and water
  • Fill both buckets, using appropriate temperature for the washing bucket.
  • Add soap and mix well to create lots of suds.
Step 2Wash clothes
  • Place your washboard into the water. If you are using bar soap (mostly used for this type of cleaning), take the bar soap, and scrape it against the washboard, covering much of its surface.
  • Take each garment and rub back and forth against the washboard using it as agitation point from which to get your clothes clean.
  • Once done, place the garment into the rinse bucket and repeat the process until all garments have been washed.
Step 3Rinse Well
  • With your hands, gently push the soap out of each garment as best you can.
  • Dump water out and refill with cold and repeat this process, repeating until no soap residue is left.
  • Gently press on each garment separately to remove as much water as possible. Avoid twisting or wringing as this can stretch and add undo stress to your clothes.
Step 4Dry
  • Line or flat dry.
No City Water
Before Washing

Pre-treatment of clothes

There are a few tweaks you may have to make to the pre-treatment of your clothes.

Step #1Read the label
  • Separate according to colors and temperature requirements as usual.
  • For most clothes, water at room temperature is fine.
  • If hot water is called for, heat non-potable water but be careful not to let it boil.
  • Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit while most clothes washers have the hot water setting at 130 degrees Fahrenheit (54.4 Celsius) or above.
  • Store a thermometer for this purpose.
Step #2Pre-treat stains
  • You can use a stain remover, detergent, hydrogen peroxide, or baking soda.
  • Heavily soiled clothes should be soak for a few hours or even overnight in room temp water. Add clothes to new water for washing.