You've all probably seen the 5 Gallon bucket off grid laundry solution, it's everywhere! A while ago when we were still living in our 1300 square foot home, before downsizing into a small apartment, we tried it! We had a backyard then, so we could wash and hang the clothes to dry outside. We used this method for a whole summer! And with a family of four, that's a lot of laundry! I want to share our experience with the popular project, what we learned and how we will do it differently!
What I learned:Washing all your clothes by hand is gratifying! To see all the clothes you have washed hanging on the line at the end of the day, it's amazing feeling. Knowing that each piece of clothing is perfectly cleaned and gently washed is great!
Laundry needs to be done everyday, or at least every second day, especially if you have a large family. Once the laundry has piled up, it's very hard to get caught up especially if your hanging space for line drying is limited, which brings me to my next lesson learned...
Drying your clothes takes MUCH longer! Sure, you wring it out and "spin" it, with my super awesome method you'll read about later, but the clothes never get as dry as when you pull them out of a high efficiency washer.
Plan ahead, do laundry in the morning and try not to get behind cause you might run out of hanging space when you are trying to catch up! You can read my other clothesline tips here.
It takes time! It's not a quick as throwing it in the washer and pushing a button but the electricity and money you save is worth the effort and better for the environment, perfect for our minimalist back to basics family!
It's kind of sloppy and messy, so washing your clothing outside is the way to go and would work great next to a grey water system with biodegradable soap!
What I would do differently?I found using the lid with the hole for the plunger restricted my agitation movements, so I ditched it . I liked being able to see the clothes, where I plunged, and what I hadn't agitated. It can be sloppy, however, but if you are washing outside I think it is worth the mess.
You need more buckets. Most of the tutorials include two, a regular bucket and another with holes. I added an extra of each. This way I can use them in an assembly line, wash, spin, rinse and spin then hang. We are a family of five, and I hated how I could only do really small loads and having to empty the bucket of water often. What a waste! My method allows you to use the same water for more laundry, once it gets brown it should be changed though, yuck!
Super awesome spin method! Hanging the bucket from a tree with a sturdy rope and a climbers clip thingy, technical term, I know, and wind it up, let go and it spins! With little effort, it works much better than squeezing the clothes with another bucket on top. The longer the rope it's hanging from, the more spin you can get. It's amazing how well this works to get the water out!
Having the buckets on an elevated surface is better for your back. I sat in a chair leaning over, over years this would be bad, very bad.
When we are finally on our land, I want to build an elevated surface for all of the buckets, under a tree for spin and close to the clothesline for hanging.