Laundry On the Off-Grid Homestead ~ 3

Sunshine is free!

In the last two posts we’ve focused on the large challenge of doing laundry for eight on our off-grid homestead without a washer or dryer.  If you haven’t already done so, read Part One and Part Two to better understand the following tips about doing laundry by hand, including using a spinner:

~ Use pre-spot on spots or stains the same as with a washer.  Scrub spots by hand or on a wash board.

~ Soak really dirty laundry overnight in the soapy water before washing.

~ Make sure there is enough room for clothes to move freely in the water while plunging.  Break large loads into several small batches in the washing tub, doing each batch one or two minutes with the plungers, depending on how dirty they are.

~ Use five gallon buckets for rinsing.  For dirtier loads rinse twice, using two buckets for rinsing, and squeezing water out in between with the laundry press.

~ The water catching bucket that comes with the Charming Spinner is not large enough to catch all the water that is removed unless you use it after washing with a regular washing machine, so we use a larger tub.

Removing a sheet from the spinner

~ After removing clothes from the laundry press, some really wet or heavy items may still need a quick hand squeeze before placing them into the spinner.  This makes it much easier to avoid problems with unbalanced loads and having to stop and rearrange the clothes.

~ In the spinner, place heavier items in first, then lighter items on top.  Most items should be placed in one at a time to keep the load balanced.

~ We normally have two people plunging and rinsing, another running the spinner and helping with rinsing, and two others hanging the clothes on the line.  The children handle it daily now with a little oversight from me.

The laundry team at work!

~ We no longer throw clothing (with the exception of undies) into the wash after only wearing it once or twice.  It usually must look or smell dirty.

~ I like clean bed sheets.  Especially now we don’t want to wash all of them every week.  We have them on a rotation schedule.  To keep from sleeping in dirty sheets, we’re pretty strict about any dirt in bed.  The younger ones go outside and get dirty till naptime (2:30pm), then take showers or clean up and get night clothes on before nap.  After nap they play inside or on the deck.  It also saves power to shower in the afternoon rather than after dark because it requires no lighting and less heating of water.  Of course when we are on a big project till late we don’t have much choice but to shower late as well.

~ Our weekly laundry schedule keeps things from piling up and washes appropriate things together.

  • Monday:  cleaning rags, play/work clothes, socks, undies
  • Tuesday:  darks (jeans, delicate dress clothes, etc), house bath towels
  • Wednesday:  kitchen towels, hand towels, cloth napkins, pillow cases, night clothes, sheets, camper bath towels
  • Thursday:  really dirty clothes (Silver Oak’s work clothes, soiled play/work clothes, etc) – this load starts soaking the day before
  • Friday:  first delicate whites, then cleaning rags, socks, undies 

Laundry that needs to be disinfected has been a little difficult.  It’s time and energy-consuming to use really hot water, and I am generally not a Clorox user for health reasons (spot treatment only).  We use lots of hydrogen peroxide which disinfects and whitens, but I’m wondering how to become more sustainable and efficient in this area.  Any ideas?

At a museum learning about laundry in days gone by

I’ve shared what we do, now what about you?  If you are off-grid or just trying to save on your power and water consumption, what have you found that works successfully with lots of laundry?  Hope to hear your ideas!


Homemade Cottage Cheese and Butter

Linked w/ Barn Hop, Morris Tribe, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Growing Home, Frugally Sustainable, Live Renewed, Our Simple Farm, A Rural Journal, Simple Lives ThursdayMy Simple Country Living, Ole’ Saturday Homesteading Trading Post,  and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.


18 thoughts on “Laundry On the Off-Grid Homestead ~ 3

  1. I dont have anything to “add”, but wanted to say that I commend your family on taking a greener approach to living. I personally dont think I could live without my Kenmore washer and dryer, but I think it is awesome that you do. 🙂 Have a blessed weeekend.


    • I know what you mean…until last year I would have never dreamed I could do without my washer and dryer either. But so far we are seeing many rewards making it well worth it. Thanks so much for stopping by!


  2. You can use either peppermint essential oil or tea tree oil essential oil for your wash to disinfect them. They will also make them smell better! Vinegar is also another good disinfectant. You can order the oils from this website that I use. It just take a few drops of oil in each wash. lavender, Lemon and orange essential oils are also great for cleaning and laundry, but I don’t know if they would help with disinfecting.


    • Missy, thank you so much for this info. I love essential oils, and as I am always looking for ways to live more sustainably I have wild dreams of some day being able to distill my own. But for now I can get peppermint oil in a fairly large quantity locally for a decent price, so maybe that is the way I should go at this time. I wonder if I grow my own peppermint if there is a way I can use it without distilling for the same results, (??) So much to learn!


  3. I always love your posts. I still use a washer, but when I can I hang my clothing on the line. I am trying out homemade laundry soaps. I have found some items it works on ,others it doesn’t. I am mainly having a problem with my whites. I can’t use bleach. Any ideas?


    • Thank you Michelle. I have always stayed away from bleach as well, with similar problems, so I’m afraid I may not be the best person to ask. The sun whitens, as well as the moon, and hydrogen peroxide helps, but none of those seem to do as well as bleach would. Otherwise the only thing I’ve found is Shaklee’s laundry whitener called Nature Bright.


  4. I have always been told that the sun will disinfect the clothes, including cloth diapers. I use home made laundry soap now with vinegar as needed. Line dry. So far no issues with lingering smells. We spot treat any stains. White socks do get dingy over time but I am washing with unfiltered, Oklahoma, red dirt water. The water looks clear but we really think it affects the brightness of our clothes. We have adapted by no longer purchasing white clothing. We embrace vivid colors and they rarely look dingy 🙂


  5. Rose Petal,

    I had to leave you a comment! I’ve been reading your posts for the past week religiously starting from thenvery first to present. I love that you have followed your dream of living off grid with your amazing family! You all are a true inspiration to me. One day I would like my own tiny house on property where I can become self sustainable. Is there any way we can email? I have researched many of the things you are doing and would like to share my ideas for aquaplonics systems and many more things.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this (I know it’s an epistle).
    Many blessings,


    • Hello Bob, so glad you’ve introduced yourself. I’m so glad to hear of someone who started at the beginning…I need to do it myself again to remember the amazing way God has worked things out in our lives the last year and half. What an adventure!

      We would be delighted to email and love to hear what you have to share. Doing so many new things gets overwhelming sometimes. Thank you for sharing!


  6. Lemon juice on your whites will also help whiten them and kill some bacteria, along with the power of the sun. I use 1/4 cup per load. Vinegar is good for a disinfectant for laundry. I use 1/2 cup per load, and when the laundry has odor, I use 1/2 cup baking soda per load. Love your blog, thanks so much for sharing!


    • I love the idea about using lemon juice. We certainly can grow lemons around here, so that would be a very sustainable alternative. And we have plenty of sun here in central FL! Thank you for sharing all of your very good ideas!


  7. I add vinegar to disinfect. I did not think about lemon juice, but I sure hope it works. My Mom always says gool ol sunshine brightens whites. I don’t know. Wish I could help with that. I stopped using bleach. I use hot water and presoak whites in a homemade detergent that includes baking soda, borax, and super washing soda and 2 bar soaps like a Fels-Naptha or Zote.


    • I’ve heard good things about that homemade detergent. Lately I’ve been making mine with soapnuts, which I hope to post about soon. But for the time being, until we have our own lemon trees, adding vinegar seems to be the answer. Thanks for your good ideas!


  8. I am SO impressed with your entire washing routine. Wow. I can’t even imagine how much time and effort goes into your laundry. I’ve enjoyed life without a dryer, but it would take some major adjusting to life without a washer as well, lol. Definitely something to strive toward. Thank you so much for sharing what works for you, and for linking up to the Homestead Barn Hop!! Blessings 🙂


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