Our "Off Grid" Laundry Set Up
Greetings!! I know I have been absent here while trying to build up my Patreon. Due to some internet issues with uploading videos - I am back here for the time being. Support is still welcome on the Patreon page as it helps keep the website going.
We moved out to Viggo full time on May 15th. At that point, we had already sold the washer and dryer and had been using the camp washer and drying racks. The set up was working just fine but never really felt long term. I knew I wanted a different set up, so a different set up I did.
Our "Off Grid" Laundry Set Up
First - the most important thing - is the wringer. While using the camp washer, I didn't have the wringer and while it was a nice hand strengthening exercise to squeeze out the clothes with my hands, I started to dread that moment.
I had been eyeing the wringer from Lehman's for YEARS but it was also out of price range and even now, is a bit more. I found one on Amazon that works beautifully. It took a little bit to get it mounted right (with ensuring the proper counter weight) but I love my wringer.
Second - washboard. This may seem a little too "house on the prairie" but this is a powerhouse for getting out stains. The girls LOVE to help with the with washboard. When doing a load, I will use a castille bar soap (hemp citrus if you are wondering, purchased locally) on the stains and then scrub on the board. I was thrilled when I saw my youngest daughter's socks - who is notorious for walking around in the dirt in them - become white again. Now, I'm not one that needs to have sparkling white clothes, but it was really nice that her socks were covered in dirt anymore!
Third - plunger. There are several options for these online, and I even saw one at a local antique store, but they are pricey. We use a regular toilet plunger and drilled a few holes in the top. Works incredibly well.
Fourth - wash tubs. We purchased galvanized steel square tubs at Tractor Supply. Right now they don't have any drains but they will and will be drained through a hose to a spot off in the woods, which will be rotated every couple days.
Fifth (and last) - clothesline. We use a clothesline on a pulley. Just strung between two trees. We purchased this clotheslines about 7 years ago and it has moved around the world with us. Happy to have it back up. Its just about 50 feet.
I do a small/medium load of laundry every morning before the sun climbs above the trees (which is around 8:45). I could probably go every other day but its part of my rhythm so that when a day needs to be skipped, it doesn't create a massive pile of laundry.
I add the soap to the wash bin and use the plunger to agitate for a few minutes. I then use the washboard on the clothes that need it. Agitate some more with the plunger. I will feed it through the wringer and plop it into the rinse bin. This is just water with a little vinegar.
In the rinse bin, I will agitate again with the plunger for a few minutes. I feed it through the wringer again (the wash bin has been emptied at this point) and then the wash is done.
Clothes get hung up immediately and they hang for the day. I bring them in late afternoon (actually, after writing this I will go and take them down) and fold them. The wringer makes them look like I iron all the clothes so if you see us looking good - no I didn't iron all the clothes.
Everyone puts away their own clothes and we rotate on who puts away the towels.
Now, what about the water use of washing by hand? Our wash bins are 15 gallon bins. I fill up MAYBE half, probably closer to 40%, so I am using 6-7 gallons per bin for a total of 12-14 gallons for my laundry.
I checked on Consumer Reports and saw that the use of a top loading high efficiency washer is 14 gallons. So I am technically a top loading high efficiency washer.
BUT, the only electricity I use is running the pump for about 30 seconds. We have a 200 gallon holding tank for the well so 14 gallons of it is nothing. It will just run to refill those 14 gallons which is a very short time.
The biggest surprise I had was....our clothes are cleaner!
This morning, while I was folding the clothes (yea, I didn't fold them right away...see skipping days...) I was shocked my how bright the colors were and how much brighter the whites looked. Maybe I am just in a really good mood because I am in the middle of the woods living like I have been wanting for a while - but our clothes look and feel cleaner.
Take that "live better electrically"
Lets not forget that I do the laundry outside. This means that I can getting fresh air, natural light, sights of the woods, and contact with the ground. All this improves not only my physical health but my mental and emotional health as well.