off-grid washing machine options

9 Off-Grid Washing Machine Options for Homesteaders

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Living off the grid means different things to different people. Some view it as uniting with nature and its inherent beauty, some view it as a way to become self-sufficient, whereas others view it as a suitable option to cut down on the costs of technological utilities.

Despite having different definitions, anyone who’s ever adopted this lifestyle would agree that it’s about living a sustainable life by reducing dependence on modern technology. Naturally, a self-sustainable lifestyle comes with various challenges, like doing laundry.

Fortunately, there are many ways to wash clothes while living off-grid. In this article, we will highlight different off-grid washing machine options for homesteaders so you can do your laundry quickly and efficiently.

What Is an Off-Grid Washing Machine?

Like traditional washing machines, off-grid washing machines wash your clothes using friction and laundry detergent to remove dirt, dust, and bacteria from your dirty clothes.

While they may not be as convenient as standard washing machines, off-grid washing machines are designed to be a reliable appliances for people living in remote areas. For this reason, many off-grid washing machines clean your clothes without consuming much water. Their biggest advantage, though, is that they’re energy efficient. Many off-grid washing machines rely on alternative energy sources.

That being said, not all off-grid washing machines need external energy sources; you can use manual washers! They’re less convenient than solar panel-powered washing machines but are more environment-friendly and consume no energy. 

If you’re worried about needing too much space, don’t. You can easily find a high-performance off-grid washing machine with a compact design.

The best part is that these machines are durable, which is important since off-gridders usually live in isolated areas where finding repair shops can be a hassle. 

off-grid wrangler washer

9 Off-Grid Washing Machine Options

When you choose an off-grid washing machine, consider how its features align with your needs. 

If you want to wash several clothing items at once, a small-capacity machine won’t do the trick. If you don’t want to exert too much effort, don’t go with a manual washer. 

No matter which option you choose, though, it’ll surely get the job done. So, let’s see the off-grid machines available on the market.

1) Non-Electric Washer

Non-electric washers are eco-friendly solutions to clean dirty laundry. However, they require some manual effort for them to function. So, they can be time-consuming and exhaustive to use.

You start by putting your clothes inside the washer and closing the domed lid. Then, add your water and detergent, close the top lid, and start cranking the handle. By doing this, you agitate the dirty laundry, causing the dirt and dust to get out of the clothes.

It takes about 5 minutes of cranking the handle to wash 5 pounds of clothes clean.

A non-electric washer can sometimes be labeled as a portable washing machine.

solar washing machine

2) Electric Washing Machine

Using an electric washing machine is the most convenient way to washing clothes off-grid, as you don’t have to exert any effort. The machine does all the work for you.

Most electric washing machines are pretty straightforward. They have two buttons. One to agitate and tumble your clothes through washing and spinning motions. The other is to remove excess water from them. When you add your clothes, don’t overcrowd the tub, as some of them may not get washed properly.

Although it does require electricity, off-grid electric washing machines are designed to have low water and power usage. So by using this off-grid washing machine solution, you can reduce your dependency on electricity and water while still having the convenience of a standard washing machine.

propane washing machine

3) Propane Gas Washing Machine

Propane washing machines rely on propane gas to power the washer in an off-grid environment. The benefit of this washer is that it is completely independent of the grid, it cleans your clothes well, and it requires no manual input from you.

However, they come with some downsides as well. For example, propane washing machines are completely dependent on propane gas. So if you find yourself without propane gas, you cannot use the washing machine. And propane gas takes up shelf space as it needs to be stored for later use.

Fortunately, propane gas is relatively cheap and does not expire. So you can buy it in bulk and not worry about it expiring.

washboard for homestead

4) Washboard

Washboards have been around since the 1830s, making them one of the oldest tools used to wash clothes. They do not require electricity, but they do require manual hand washing. Washboards come in different sizes and are built from various materials. As you rub your clothes against the soap-rubbed surface of the washboard, following an up-and-down movement, you remove the bacteria and unpleasant smells.

The best part is that you get different textures on their surfaces. A washboard with alternating cuts on its surface is suitable for deep cleaning, while a washboard with a smooth surface is good for your delicates.

5) Bike Washer

The idea behind a Bike Washer is to attach a barrel filled with water and soap to the back wheel of your bike. As you paddle, the spinning force of the wheel spins the barrel along with it, imitating the movement of a washing machine.

You can unscrew the barrel from the bike, set it up for the wash, and re-screw it again. You can even cycle while it’s attached to the rear, making it a versatile and practical invention.

6) Plunger and Bucket

For this method, you need a laundry plunger, bucket, lid, and drill. If you don’t already have a laundry plunger, you can add a few small holes to a regular plunger so it can move freely in the water. Afterward, you’ll want to make a large hole on the lid.

Then, put your clothes in the bucket with soap and water, pass the plunger through the lid, seal the bucket, and start moving the plunger up and down. This allows water and soap to infiltrate every corner of your clothes.

laundry plunger

7) Bucket and Brush 

Using a bucket and a brush is the most straightforward washing method on this list. You only need basic washing tools, like water, detergent, a bucket, and a brush.

Pour your water and detergent into the bucket. Once mixed, add your clothes and wait until they’re submerged. 

First, use your hands to move them around in soapy water. Then, grab your brush and rub it against them. Make sure to rub gently to not damage your clothes.

wingler washer

8) Wringer Washer

Like the non-electric washer, using a manual wringer washer is a bit of a workout. You put your clothes in soapy water and use the handle to agitate them for 5-20 minutes, depending on how dirty your clothes are.

When they’re clean, put them through the rollers of the winger and spin its crank. While they don’t dry your clothes, the rollers remove excess water. So they dry faster when you hang them.

9) Twin Tub

As the name suggests, a twin tub has two tubs. One is for washing. The other is for drying. Both tubs work independently, so you can wash a patch of clothes while drying another.

This machine works manually, meaning you have to add the water and soap yourself and move the clothes from the washing tub to the drying tub. The best part is that it consumes less water than other washing machines.

Hand washing clothes


When you go off-grid, you are giving up many modern conveniences. This includes washing machines, as well as heaters, electric stoves, shower systemsfreezers, and other appliances. Fortunately, there are many off-grid alternatives for just about every home appliance, and they use only a fraction of the power and water.

So, the good news is that off-grid living doesn’t have to be hard and inconvenient.

As we discussed in this article, there are many options for washing clothes off-grid. We covered everything from electric washing machines to manual washing machines. Now that you know what’s out there, you should pick the best one that aligns with your lifestyle and home set-up.

While each of the above-listed options has its pros and cons, they all guarantee clean clothes without consuming a lot of water and energy.

If you are looking to transition off-grid, consider reading our checklist as well as other relevant articles to help you in the process.

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