How to Make a Off Grid Washing Machine Using a Bucket and Plunger


DIY: Clothes Washer from Plunger

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For a few months I have been thinking about personal hygiene is a disaster context.  Basically, I feel like I have a decent supply of food and the essential equipment, not everything, but enough that I can keep Genny from starving in anything less than a full TEOTWAWKI grid down scenario.  However, having prepared, I find I am running out of storage space, and the way we go through bathroom paper products, I could never store a years worth in anything less than a tractor trailer.

This has caused me to look into cloth diapers, which turned into cloth toilet tissue, then I found sites like naturally cozy.  And while all of the above products are ecologically friendly, inexpensive, and more sustainable in a disaster than commercial paper products, I worry about how to keep them clean and the smell and “yuck” factor down.

Enter non-electric washing machines….  It does not take much internet searching to find people that have made bucket washers with 5 gallon buckets, lids, and toilet plungers.  I figured if they could why couldn’t I make a DIY Clothes Washer from Plunger

How to Make a DIY Plunger Washer

For my washer, I bought a simple plunger from the local box store, drilled some small holes around the base to help keep the water from over sudsing, and to help push water through the clothing.  I also unscrewed the short handle and replaced it with a mop handle so I don’t have to bend over and work as hard.  It also gave me more leverage.

I cut a hole the size of the handle in the center of a tight fitting bucket lid.

Washing Clothes Using the Bucket and Plunger

To wash all I do is add a few articles clothes to the bucket, about ¼ cup of my handy homemade liquid detergent,  and about 1 ½ gallons of water to the bucket.  Insert the plunger, and then lock on the lid.

I push the plunger around the clothes for a minute or 5 and then dump the dirty water, ass clean rinse water and repeat until the rinse water comes out clean.  If you want you could add bluing to the rinse to whiten your clothes.  I don’t do this right now, but I have some just incase this becomes my primary method of washing clothes.

I don’t ring out the wet clothes, as that causes wrinkles, and I HATE to iron.  So I just hang the wet clothes over the edge of a plastic tub until they drip dry enough to hang outside to dry.   Of course, mostly I skip that step and use the dryer because once I get the hang of using the washer if I have to, I feel confident that I’m not going to forget how so I can pack it away until I get some kids with diapers….

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