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5 Off Grid Washing Machines That Take the Sweat Out of Washing Clothes

Doing your laundry off-grid doesn’t necessarily mean “difficult.” What it does mean is doing it “differently.” And off grid washing machines definitely make the job easier!

Washing clothes, generations ago, was a true workout. When you mention off-grid washing, the average person thinks of women bent over washtubs, scrubbing away on washboards, and sweating up a storm. However, many of today’s fabrics are lighter, easier-care, and stain-resistant.

While some off-gridders do still use washboards and wringers, there are simpler, easy-to-use, non-electric washers available.

The main components of washing clothes are:

  • Water
  • Laundry soap
  • And agitation.
  • We may also wish to pre-treat stains, use bleach, and soften. None of those components require electricity. 

There are caveats, of course. 

  • You have to do a smaller load of laundry than you can do in a machine.
  • It’s harder to get the water out of your clothes, which may add to drying time. (This can be remedied by using a wringer or spinner.)
  • You may need to get a little more physical than what you are accustomed to, in doing off-grid laundry (which is really not a bad thing).

Imagine, though, the beauty of the off-grid washing machine:

  • If you lose power, you can still get laundry done.
  • You don’t need a lot of dedicated space for housing large machines.
  • The need to do smaller loads means you wash more regularly, and thus aren’t stuck having a “laundry day” that takes up time when you’d prefer to do something else.
  • Clothes get every bit as clean as when you use a machine.
  • If you don’t own a washer/dryer set, you can avoid the laundromat.

Let’s Look at 5 Great Off Grid Washing Machines!


1. Avalon Bay EcoWash – Hand-Powered Machine

This washer uses arm power rather than foot power, like the Drumi. Also, like the Drumi, it doesn’t take up much space, which is another bonus.

As far as washing capacity, a good rule of thumb is that it’ll do up to a “man-sized outfit” (pants or shorts, shirt, socks, underwear). If that doesn’t work, consider “up to five pounds” as your rule.

The Avalon Bay folks claim their product cleans very gently, which is nice if you are doing delicates like lingerie or yoga clothes. If saving the earth is high on your list of reasons for using a portable washer, again, no electricity is needed, and it doesn’t use as much soap and detergent. However, consider that you may need to do more loads.  

Avalon Bay Ecowash Portable Hand Cranked Washing Machine
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2. Lehman’s Own Off Grid Clothes Washer


Lehman’s, a store that is a mecca for off-grid living, developed its own washer. It is modeled after a type called a “James” washer, and uses vigorous arm motion to swish the clothes back and forth.

It is sturdily built of galvanized steel and wood, rather than the plastic washers also featured in this article. That also means it comes with a heftier price tag – but if you are living the off-grid life, and if you have a family (and more dirty clothes), this product is very appealing. Its capacity and durability make it a major contender. 

3. The Lavario Off Grid Washing Machine

The Lavario, (lava-rio), while compact, touts its ability to handle jeans and sweatshirts – and up to three pairs of jeans, at once. Off-gridders, rejoice! Those items pop up frequently in the hamper, and it’s no picnic to get the dirt and sweat out.

The Lavario claims it lets gravity do most of the work. Demoed in the bathtub, it is appealing due to the lack of mess with drains, splashing, etc. The manufacturer claims 15 minutes for wash and rinse. The cleaning motion with the Lavario is up and down, using your arms.

Not only that…

The Lavario has exceptional reviews on Amazon. Over 500 of them, averaging about 4.5 stars out of 5! One reviewer mentioned they have their washer in the shower. They use the up and down movement 10 times, then leave it to soak for 10 minutes, then repeat the movement. Undo the drain cap, drain the water out, and leave it to drain on its own for a few minutes.

Then, you re-do the process with clean water to rinse your washing. They mentioned you might want to rinse more than once, but because they only use a very small amount of detergent, once is enough for them.

Lavario Portable Clothes Washer
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4. The Laundry POD – Based on a Salad Spinner

Winner of the Best Greener Gadget award, this eco-friendly little washer uses a minimal amount of water and of course no electricity. Inspired by a salad spinner, it uses centrifugal force to get the water out of your clothes and easier to dry. It can even handle heavier items, like wool sweaters.

This is another “arm”-crank type of washer. Users like the interior basket, which essentially becomes a handy laundry basket to transport your clothes to the clothesline or drying rack.

The Laundry POD, White
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03/22/2023 03:48 pm GMT

5. The WOWKU Portable Off Grid Washing Machine With Foot Pedal

Not only does the WOWKU have a great name, but it’s also eco-friendly and boasts strong cleaning power. It’s lightweight and easy to use; it takes about 15 minutes for a load. This is another foot-powered machine, if that is a factor for you. As with several of the others here, it’s easy to store and use.

Off Grid Washing Machines Share a Common Theme…

As you have read, all off-grid washers share a common theme: physical labor. Some use your legs, some use arm movement, but they all require your own power. If you are already living off-grid, none of these are likely off-putting, as you are probably used to other chores associated with the lifestyle.

However, if you are just looking for a product that you can use in an apartment or for camping, the particular type of mechanism may be important to you. 

We’d love to hear from users of these machines with their comments!

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  • Elle

    Jack of all trades, master of some. Wild garden grower. Loves creating stuff. From food forests and survival gardens to soap and yoghurt. A girl on a farm with two kids and one husband (yep, just one - although another one would be handy). Weirdly enjoys fixing fences and digging holes. Qualified permaculture teacher and garden go-to.

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