Off-Grid Washing Machine


No matter how much you may love to wear your clothes for all sorts of reasons, there is nothing quite like having clean clothes on hand. If people need to know the difference between deep cleaning vs move out cleaning , you can check them out here! 

Unfortunately, during your escape from a social collapse or some other form of forced off-grid situation, you will find that washing clothes will be far more difficult than expected.

Even though modern washing machines tend to be big, noisy, and use a lot of water, they operate on the same principles as any off-grid washing machine. Essentially, a central agitator swishes the water and clothes around, which causes the dirt to be released from the fabric.

Soap aids in the process because one end of the soap molecule attaches to dirt, while the other attaches to the water. As the water agitates, soap them “pulls” the dirt from the clothes.

Some Off Grid Washing Machines Ideas

These off grid washing machines ideas have been out for many years. A simple washing machine idea that is published in this source article, can be transformed into an off-grid washing machine so you can have clean clothing no matter where you live.

Bicycle Off Grid Washing Machine: A wooden stand elevates the barrel to a comfortable height and the top loading feature makes this not only an efficient washer, but one that is easy to use.

The bottom drain plug allow the barrel to empty itself of water quickly and completely, resulting in less heavy lifting for you. An old bicycle is the man-power behind this unique design so you can get in a healthy workout while doing the laundry.

Barrel Washing Machine: This washing machine is ideal for the large family or those who wait until all clothes are dirty before doing laundry. A 55 gallon barrel is used for the project and creates a large load capacity washing machine that uses no electricity.

The streamlined designed makes the hand crank easy enough to be turned by a child, even when the big barrel is filled with laundry and wash water.

Funnel Power Washing Machine: Dual funnels work together to get clothes clean in the manual off grid washing machine. The tub of this off grid washing machine is made from re-enforced concrete, so it will outlast any conventionally made washing machine.

It has two funnels inside the tank that serve as plungers, agitating the water every time the handle is pumped. The funnels go up and down. Shape-wise, the funnel is streamlined and cuts the water as it moves upward. Coming down, it creates more churning action because of the less streamlined bottom.

One stands to the right of the machine and pumps the handle up and down. As the handle moves it raises and lowers the two red plastic funnels. That agitates the water and washes the clothes.

The handle is of welded iron pipe. The cross bar in the middle acts like a hinge. The hinge pin which holds the handle to the washing machine body is a smaller diameter pipe.

Bucket Clothes Washing Machine: This bucket design is perfect for small loads of dirty clothes. For this particular design, a simple plunger acts as the agitator. You will find it much easier to use than a scrub board or a nearby rock sitting in a stream.

Building a Five Gallon Bucket Washing Machine

Bucket Washing Machine

If you don’t have a lot of money in your budget, this simple five gallon washing machine may be ideal for you. The bucket washer may not be complicated, but it will enable you to have clean clothes. You can also modify this design to meet your demands.

Why should you suffer with dirty clothes and all the diseases that go with poor hygiene when this lightweight bucket design can be carried along to any bug out location and put to use at a moment’s notice?

Supplies List to Build a Bucket Washing Machine

  • 5 Gallon Bucket with Plastic Lid

  • 1 Rubber Plunger

Tools to Build a Bucket Washing Machine

Drill, Razor knife, Hammer, 3/8’’ Drill Bit ,1/8’’ Spade Bit, and a Bucket Opener.

The Bucket Washing Machine

Drill/Cut a Hole in the Bucket Lid. There are a variety of ways to get a hole cut out of the middle of the bucket lid. The hole just needs to be big enough for the plunger to fit through, with a little wiggle room.

Use a 1 1/8’’ hole saw bit, but you can use a spade bit, or even just a sharp knife. It is pretty easy to center the hole right in the middle of the lid.

Drill Holes in the Plunger. Drilling holes will prevent the plunger from sticking to the bottom of the bucket and allows water to flow more freely. This makes the agitating process more efficient.

Get Washing. Very little laundry detergent is needed in such a small load. We prefer using TOUGH-GRID Laundry Liberator to get the job done. ¼ Tablespoon of this stuff will be plenty.

If you use other detergents, be sure to follow proper measurements. Please note that anything you put in your clothes will need to be rinsed out.

Wash Cycle. Agitate Well for several minutes. Empty the dirty water out of the bucket. Wring out clothes. Since you will probably be dumping this water outside, it is a good Idea to use a detergent that won’t harm the environment.

Be sure to use a soap that is biodegradable and good at cleaning your clothes.

Rinse Cycle. Place the clothes back in the bucket with fresh, clean water. Agitate well for several minutes to rinse out the suds. Wring out your clothes. Hang clothes out to dry, or put them in a dryer.


Store the washer in a clean, dry place. The plunger can be kept inside the bucket and stored as a whole unit. Just make sure that the buckets and plunger are completely dry before putting them away.

Even though plastic is not easily ruined by mildew, mold, and fungus, spores can still get onto your clothes during the washing process and wreak havoc.

As a means of prevention, you may also want to rinse the buckets and plunger out with boiling hot water prior to use in order to eliminate risks posed by these noxious fabric killers.

Warm water is thinner and penetrates the clothing better to wash out the dirt and you save detergent in the process as warm water enhances the chemical reaction when you add water to detergents.

Warm water also is more effective to remove body oils. Detergents have a bubbling action and enzymes that help release dirt. Also, bio-friendly detergents use vegetable oils vs petroleum based detergents.

If society is badly damaged, it may take decades, or even hundreds of years before commercial electricity and equipment becomes available. When it comes to laundry, you may not be able to wash in a nearby stream simply because so many streams and potable water sources are already polluted with all kinds of toxins.

One thing is for certain, if you would not drink the water because of toxins, heavy metals, or pathogens, then you won’t want to wash your clothes in it. From that perspective, being able to wash clothes in a controlled, water efficient, low-tech environment is essential.