Prepping basics: How to wash your clothes without electricity
08/27/2018 // Zoey Sky // Views

When SHTF, how are you going to keep your clothes clean? What will you do if you lose power right this minute and you have a full load of clothes in a washing machine that won't turn on?

It's not limited to power outage; you can also use the options listed below if you're bugging out somewhere without any electricity. (h/t to

Before you can start washing your clothes, keep in mind that you'll need agitation, soap, and water to do the laundry. If you don't have any soap, you can still wash your clothes with water and by agitating the articles of clothing.

Before you decide on any of the options below, you'll need several large basins. You can do with one, but it's better to have two basins so you can use the other for rinsing once you're done washing the clothes.

If you don't have basins, you can use five-gallon buckets in a pinch. However, these buckets are narrow and they're not big enough to fit that many clothes.

Another option is to wash clothes in a body of water, such as a stream, but make sure you use an environment-friendly soap so you don't pollute the water.

Portable clothes washing machine

A Breathing Mobile Washer is the next best thing if you own a modern washing machine but there's a power outage in your area. This unique handheld washer looks like a plunger with a "breather" and you can use this to wash your clothes.

The Breathing Mobile Washer works by "pushing and pulling" water through your clothes. Raising the plunger a couple of inches lets air through the top portion called the "breather." (Related: How to make your own DIY washing machine.)


Galvanized washboard

The galvanized washboard is a golden oldie. Back when people didn't have washing machines yet, washboards helped people keep their clothes clean via hand-washing.

If you don't know how to use a washboard, here's a simple guide:

  1. Set a bar of laundry soap on the wooden area near the top of the washboard, then put your clothes in a tub of water with some detergent. Swirl the clothes around.
  2. Wet the metal surface of the washboard and rub it with the bar of soap. Rub each piece of clothing on the soapy surface of the washboard.
  3. Scrub any stained areas to clean them properly and re-soap the washboard surface when you need to.
  4. When you're done scrubbing all of the clothes, swish them around the tub. Drain the water, wring out the clean clothes, then refill the tub with rinse water.
  5. Swish the clothes around one last time, drain them, then wring them out. You can rinse the clothes again for a second time if you want.

Portable compact mini washing machine

The WonderWash Mini Washing Machine is a portable hand crank washing machine. Simply turn it at least one revolution per second. If you only fill the WonderWash Mini Washing Machine halfway, it's easier to crank.

For cleaner clothes, spin the washing machine slowly. This way, the clothes will fall from top to bottom during every revolution and they will be slammed down the hot and soapy water at least 60 times per minute. If you crank the clothes slowly for two minutes, they'll go through the water 120 times and they'll be very clean once you're done.

Spinning the crank faster means centrifugal force will keep the clothes on only one end of the washer, and the clothes won’t get cleaned properly.

A clothesline

To make a clothesline, all you'll need is a length of strong rope, sturdy posts, and some clothes/laundry pegs. If you don't want to ruin your lawn, secure the rope to sturdy trees instead.

Recipe for homemade laundry detergent

Follow the recipe below for a natural and homemade laundry detergent that doesn't have any harsh chemicals.


  • Sal's Suds – 1/2 cup
  • Super Washing Soda – 7 oz. (2/3 cups)
  • Water – 4 cups, divided


  1. Bring the four cups of water to a boil.
  2. Pour the washing soda into a large glass bowl, then slowly stir in two cups of boiling water until the washing soda is completely dissolved.
  3. Stir in the half cup of Sal’s Suds. Once the washing soda and Sal's Suds is mixed well, slowly stir in the last two cups of boiling water.
  4. Let the mixture cool to room temperature then store it in a glass bottle. Add ¼ cup of the liquid detergent per load.

This homemade laundry detergent liquid produces 14 loads of non-toxic laundry detergent for only $3.oo.


  • Dissolve the washing soda completely when mixing or the detergent will turn out gritty.
  • If the detergent remains unused for a along time, the ingredients may slightly separate. Just shake the contained to combine them again.

Visit for other articles with tips on how you can wash your clothes even without electricity.

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