How To Wash Clothes When The Power Goes Out

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It’s all about how to wash clothes when the power goes out today! Yes, I have my emergency washing machine buckets I recently showed you in a post, but I have another option today. In order to be prepared for an unforeseen emergency, we can start by learning how to do laundry outside and really love it! When I was younger I can still remember seeing the sheets hanging on the clothesline. My family had one of those clotheslines with the metal “T” frames spaced about 20 feet apart with braided rope. We couldn’t use metal clothesline wires back then because it would leave rust on the clothes. This can be a great family experience doing laundry outside, I promise. I’ve updated this post because I really want to get the word out about being prepared to wash your clothes by hand, it’s that simple.


Growing up, I don’t remember our clothes being stiff (after drying them on the clothesline), but I am thinking they must have been. We didn’t get a clothes dryer until about 1961, maybe. We used good old detergent in a washer and we hung the clothes and sheets outside to dry. We didn’t have a laundry room or closet with a washer and dryer inside. As I think back we had very little clothes and that makes me now realize why. I am sure it was the cost, but I’m also thinking we wore our clothes more than one day. I can’t imagine that today, but I am just thinking that was the case years ago. I did grow up with a washer and dryer by the time I was eleven. Wow, I’m starting to feel really old right now. LOL!

How To Wash Clothes

By now you probably know I want to be prepared for the unexpected. This means I need to know how to do my laundry if the power goes out and know that I CAN do it. I am happy to report that I found one new option, and I really enjoyed just filling these 17-gallon high-grade steel Behrens multi-purpose steel utility tubs made right here in the USA with a hose!  I used my lead-free hose, just giving you the heads up here.They are rust free and odor free. They’re galvanized and ready for me to do laundry outside! If the water was shut off I can use some of the water I have stored. It’s called practice makes perfect, right? I know I can wash my clothes by hand several different ways and here is one you may like as well.

Now you might be thinking why don’t you just use the bathtub to do your laundry? Well, if we had water lines or sewer lines severed I don’t want to waste any water. If I use two wash tubs or buckets, I can use my detergent and use one for washing clothes and the one for rinsing my clothes. If I use one about 1/4 teaspoon of my homemade laundry detergent, that will be perfect! My laundry detergent makes very little bubbles because it has zero fillers.

how to wash clothes

Learn To Do Laundry Outside

Do you want to know why I think you will love doing your laundry outside? You can go outside to wash your clothes, granted blue jeans would be hard to do. Put your feet in the grass or earth and feel the air around you. Just think, we can teach our kids what our grandparents used to do. They may have had a wringer washer years ago. Or they had a wash tub very similar to the ones above.

Just get away from the electronics, your cell phone, and stuff for just an hour or less. Go outside and have everyone in the family take a turn scrubbing their own clothes in a bucket of water. You can have them rinse them and hang them over chairs outside. If you have a clothesline that’s even better. You can hang a braided rope and secure it to two walls in the garage, or wherever.Just wash with the washboard….can’t you just picture the kids doing this with their own hands. Please be careful with babies or toddlers around the filled wash tubs. I would not leave the tubs unsupervised until emptied. 17GAL Galv STL RND Tub

Have Your Kids Wash Their Own Laundry Outside

Trust me, the kids will learn to work and love it at the same time. Have them wash their own clothes and hang them up for a week. They will quickly learn what it would be like to live without electricity, at least when it comes to washing their clothes. I remember when my girls started doing their own laundry they were about 10 years old. They soon learned that all the clothes on the floor were now their responsibility. They actually enjoyed doing their own laundry.

Do You Have A Clothesline For Your Laundry Outside?

Here’s the deal, think about getting some braided rope that you can use to make a clothesline, when and if you need one. If you can build one that would be awesome as well. I did a YouTube with the clothesline I have. I had been looking for one for years when I found this one. My Favorite I made a YouTube so people can see how easy it is to put up and take down. It blows in the wind and dries clothes perfectly.

Let me know if you decide to try doing some laundry outside, I would love to share your stories.

Laundry Ideas

My favorite things:

Kevin’s Quality Clothespins Set of 30 Lifetime Guarantee

Whitmor Canvas Clothespin Bag, Natural

Georgia-Pacific Envision 19880/01 White 2-Ply Embossed Bathroom Tissue, 4.05″ Length x 4″ Width (Case of 80 Rolls)

Dixie Paper Plates, 8-1/2 Inch, 48 Count, (Pack of 10)(Product size may vary)

Kirkland Signature Crystal Clear Cutlery – 360 ct

Behrens BWBG12 Galvanized Washboard, Large

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4 thoughts on “How To Wash Clothes When The Power Goes Out

  • September 28, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Hello Linda,

    I recall washing my clothes by hand in an old fashion bath tub with a wood framed – glass scrubber in my grandmother’s home as a preteen. Now in my early fifties, during the summer, I machine wash clothing and utilize the clothes- line outside. I hate to think of the day I’m forced to wash by hand, but if need be – I am prepared. I plan to use hot water for my whites (using the idea of thermosiphon). -MJ in New Mexico

    • September 30, 2016 at 11:23 am

      Hi Martha, that’s so funny that you mentioned a glass scrubber in your grandmother’s home. My sister and I went to an antique store and she saw the glass scrubber one first so she bought that one! What a treasure! I had to look up what a thermosiphon is….I’m all over that!! I have got to make one of those!!! Thanks for the great comment and tips! Linda

  • September 29, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Check into the Wonder Wash on . This is an inexpensive solution for washing clothes using little water and soap, and will clean those clothes in about 2 minutes, no electricity required.
    Really worth looking into. I have one in storage.

    • September 30, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Hand, I have seen that unit at an emergency preparedness store. I have heard people like them, but for me. they seem a little pricey for the quality. I laugh because they are really not very expensive. I just hope everyone makes, buy or gets their own emergency washing machine. We must all be self-reliant! Glad to hear you have one of these! Good job, Linda


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