Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Off-Grid Laundry System

  No washer/dryer in the travel trailer meant I had to figure out a system to do our laundry. And hauling it into the laundromat every week was not an option. Been there, done that. This is what I came up with: 18 gallon plastic buckets, a hand washer, and a 3-bucket wringer system; plus a clothes line with pulley and wood clothes pins.

  I also use Bio-Kleen laundry soap since I know it is safe for greywater systems and the environment, absolutely no chemical anything in it. I use one bucket for the washing, one for the rinsing, and an extra for whatever. A friend who also uses the plunger-style hand washer (available from Lehman's) said using a 5-gallon bucket wasn't very effective with it, not enough room for the water to swish in and around the clothing, so Tom found these 18-gallon buckets (I know they are available at Wal-Mart) that work beautifully. We find the hand washer to be highly effective in getting the clothes clean, even towels, and it's relatively easy. I mean, listen, if I can do this with my health limitations, anyone can! Besides, building a few muscles is always a good thing.   :)

  Now, the wringer system is pretty cool, but we can't take credit for it. That would be Steve Spence who we learned it from. Take three 5-gallon buckets plus a lid, drill several holes in the bottom of one. Place one on the ground, place the one with holes inside that one, put your wet items inside the one with holes, then put the one with the lid inside/on top of said wet items, and sit on it. That's right folks, sit on it... to squish all the water out! Pretty cool, eh!!! The only thing we haven't quite figured out how to remedy is that the lip on the buckets prevents the water from being completely wrung out of the very bottom items. We think maybe adding some smooth rocks or something? If any of you have suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!

  Finally, I simply take the bucket with the clothes over to the laundry line (which we also got from Lehman's). I have a chair there so I don't have to keep bending over to reach for each new article to hang. Having the pulley's is marvelous, that way I don't have to walk back and forth for hanging or taking them off. As you can tell, I am all about conserving various forms of energy! I really like the old-style wood clothes pins, too (no springs to break). I find they hold items of any thickness and haven't popped off even with the breeze. I wear an apron with pockets to keep the clothes pins in.With the lovely pine scented air and mountain breezes the laundry dries in a few hours and smells like no "clean" I've ever smelled before. It's a pure clean. The breeze also helps to soften the fabric, without any additions like vinegar or borax. I'm a purest, what can I say.   ;)

  So there you have it! From sorting to hanging on the line, two loads takes about 1-1/2 hours. Believe it or not, it's actually sort of a relaxing task!


offgridbob said...

Yea , your back, I thought you guys had given up the blog.While you were up fixing a wash solution ,Carol and I were up working on the rock wall and I had made a water catchment system and installed it. I also was going to get our was system put together but didn't have the time. I did find an old ringer set up though. But your system got me thinking. A press system similar to an apple press only bigger. A sissors press with two flat boards that you would put the cloths between. One end (pivot point)is connected with a bolt, the other end is connected with a bigger turn buckle. When you want to put the pressure on the cloths just insert a screw driver into the turn buckle and turn to close it. That would bring the two boards together and press the clothes. Just an Idea.

Linda said...

Great post!!!