How To Wash Clothes When The Power Goes Out

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Today, it’s all about how to wash clothes when the power goes out! 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!  I can still remember seeing the sheets hanging on the clothesline when I was younger.

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.

Were Our Clothes Stiff?

Growing up, I don’t remember our clothes being stiff (after drying them on the clothesline), but I’m thinking they must have been. We didn’t get a clothes dryer until about 1961 when I was in my early teens. My mom used good old detergent in a washer and we hung the clothes and sheets outside to dry. My family didn’t have a laundry room or closet with a washer and dryer inside.

As I think back, we had very few clothes and that makes me realize it was the cost, but I’m also thinking we wore our clothes more than one day each week. We 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 after the time I was about 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 with a hose these 17-gallon high-grade steel Behrens multi-purpose steel utility tubs made right here in the USA!  I used my lead-free hose, just giving you the heads up here. They are rust free and odor-free. Lead-Free Hose

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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 this is another one you may like as well.

Why I Won’t Use The Bathtub For Laundry

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 about 1/4 teaspoon of my homemade laundry detergent, that will be perfect! My laundry detergent makes very few bubbles because it has zero fillers.

how to wash clothes

Lavario Portable Clothes Washer

I’ve been wanting to make a video with this Lavario Portable Clothes Washer, but I can’t wait any longer. This is the best emergency clothes washer ever put out. It’s very affordable, I love that. You can wash two pairs of jeans in this baby without any trouble whatsoever. It holds more water, and it drains super easy through the “valve” on the bottom right of the picture. I love it!

A real bonus is that this Lavario would be awesome for camping or if your traveling in the RV. If you have a clothesline you are good to go, my friends. I actually signed up for their newsletter so I would hear about sales they might have. I saved 20% off mine and was able to get free shipping as well. Gotta love it! Please check out their website: Lavario Portable Clothes Washer, currently unavailable).

Lavario Portable Clothes Washer

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 and enjoy the experience. 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 washtub very similar to the ones above.

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Put Down Electronics

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 washtubs. I would not leave the tubs unsupervised until emptied. 17-Gallon Behrens Washtubs

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 during the next week. The kids 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. My girls 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 a clothesline 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.

Clothespins and Clothespin Bags

You may have seen my post about the best clothespins I like to use. These are the only ones I personally found to use outside that did not fall apart. They are called Kevin’s Clothespins

Please look at the difference right here:

Kevin’s clothespin is the one in the center. It’s extremely strong and easy to use. Please stock up on clothespins before you need them. I purchase clothespin bags from Prairie Pin Pouch (.net). They are the best ones out there, you will love them. 


Final Word

Let me know if you have shown your family how to wash clothes without a traditional washer and dryer, I would love to share your stories. Please keep prepping, you’ll be glad you did. May God bless this world, Linda


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  1. The Lavario Portable Clothes Washer looks intriguing but for the price, I think I will stick to my 5 gallon bucket system that I already have.

    1. Hi Leanne, I still have 4 sets of the buckets with the mobile washer. I saw a YouTube on the Lavario and new I needed to see if it was worth the $99.00 it cost with FREE shipping. I love it, but the buckets work great. I could never wash sheets in my 5-gallon buckets without some effort but it could be done. Life is good, but the prepper in me needed to check it out. I highly recommend it. For one person the buckets are great, Leanne. Linda

  2. Great article Linda, i bet washing clothes when there is no power for an extended period of time is something most people have never thought of.

    1. Hi Hearl, that’s my biggest concern, laundry when the power goes out for an extended period of time. That’s why we prep, right? We are prepared for the unexpected. I worry a few people just think the laundromats will work….no they will not. Great comment, Linda

  3. Thanks for recommending the Lavario Washer in a previous post. I watched the videos and my husband and I decided to invest in it. So . . . last week I washed my first load in it and loved that I get a little arm workout with it. We figure that when we move into an independent living facility, this will also be helpful to do the smaller things in the shower and dry them on a rack. Lavario is well made and not difficult to use. Haven’t tried it outside yet, since doing it in the shower provides warm water to wash the clothes in.

    1. HI Carol, I love hearing you bought one too! I was thrilled when it came and know that it will be my favorite way to wash clothes if and when I need it. I really hope today’s post inspires others to decide what they want to do for washing clothes when the power goes out and it will. So glad you got one!!! Linda

    2. Many year’s ago ( at least 30) I bought a Maytag wringer washer at auction for half A buck. I used it for many years on my hobby farm’s to wash greasy work clothes and rags as I didn’t care to get my automatic washer dirty with shop grease. Worked a treat but the motor burned out last summer so I have decided that I am going to try and run it with a Maytag gas engine I bought at an auction A few years ago. The engine was completely restored by the former owner and I have never started it but I am sure it will run. They were designed to run wringer washers but not this exact model so some modifications may have to be made and I will need to move the washer outdoors so the fumes won’t kill me!
      This should be the ultimate off grid washing machine! Just like great grandma used to have!!

  4. An excellent cleaner to use in place of soap is Sodium Carbonate AKA Soda Ash and otherwise bought at any store carrying pool supplies. Called pH Up. Mix 1 cup Soda Ash in a gallon of HOT water. Use 1 cup solution per load. This solution is very caustic to skin so wear gloves. FYI: this is the solution dyers use to pre-scrub fabrics to remove everything accumulated on the fabric during manufacturing and prepare the fabric to take the Procion dyes we use.

    1. HI Crystal, thank you for this information. I love learning new things. We never know when we will not be able to get regular cleaning supplies. Linda

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