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

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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 proper 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 still use washboards and wringers, simpler, easy-to-use, non-electric washers are available.

Let’s Look at 8 Great Off Grid Washing Machines!

Before we get into the details, let’s take a quick overview of the manual, non-electric washing machines we’ll be discussing today:

Best Overall
Most Substantial
  • Description:

    This off-grid washing machine is meant to last you a lifetime, and it sure will! It's just like the traditional washing machines that people used to use to wash their clothing, and with it's large capacity and sturdy design, why not carry on that tradition?

Most Efficient
  • Description:

    With its patented design, this plunge-style washing device is a real winner. The large capacity and open-top style make it easy to reuse water, whether from the rain or your showers. Additionally, this top-rated laundry machine is very durable and completely plastic, so you'll never have to replace it!

Most Compact
  • Description:

    This little salad-spinner-looking laundry machine is perfect for people who want to conserve space but also have just enough room in the machine to get an outfit clean.

Best Budget Foot Pedal
  • Description:

    The foot pedal design of this perfectly simple laundry machine makes it a breeze to use. Plus it has a removable bucket and basket to make hanging your wet laundry a breeze!

Best Budget
  • Description:

    This cost-effective hand agitator makes it possible for you to use anything as a wash bin. In fact, you can even use a freshwater source to wash your clothes with this magic wand of cleaning power.

Best Premium
  • Description:

    This small washing machine, with its pull-string cord, works like a high-speed salad spinner as it agitates and dries your clothes. It also has a higher capacity than most off grid washing machines, which makes this a great value and a solid choice.

Best Overall
Description:

This inexpensive hand-crank washing machine is cute and practical. It can hold up to 5lbs of clothing per load, and it has glowing reviews.

$69.99
4.0
Most Substantial
Description:

This off-grid washing machine is meant to last you a lifetime, and it sure will! It's just like the traditional washing machines that people used to use to wash their clothing, and with it's large capacity and sturdy design, why not carry on that tradition?

N/A
4.5
Most Efficient
Description:

With its patented design, this plunge-style washing device is a real winner. The large capacity and open-top style make it easy to reuse water, whether from the rain or your showers. Additionally, this top-rated laundry machine is very durable and completely plastic, so you'll never have to replace it!

N/A
4.5
Most Compact
Description:

This little salad-spinner-looking laundry machine is perfect for people who want to conserve space but also have just enough room in the machine to get an outfit clean.

$99.99$85.40
3.5
Best Budget Foot Pedal
Description:

The foot pedal design of this perfectly simple laundry machine makes it a breeze to use. Plus it has a removable bucket and basket to make hanging your wet laundry a breeze!

N/A
3.9
Best Budget
Description:

This cost-effective hand agitator makes it possible for you to use anything as a wash bin. In fact, you can even use a freshwater source to wash your clothes with this magic wand of cleaning power.

N/A
4.6
Best Premium
Description:

This premium manual washing machine makes quick work of laundering, as you can expect your clothes to be clean and well-wrung within 10 minutes. The design is super cute, but it's also very functional.

$449.00
3.6
Description:

This small washing machine, with its pull-string cord, works like a high-speed salad spinner as it agitates and dries your clothes. It also has a higher capacity than most off grid washing machines, which makes this a great value and a solid choice.

$81.99
5.0
02/16/2024 04:54 am GMT

Alright! Did anything pique your interest? Let’s dive deep into the details now and figure out which washing machine style and type will fit your laundering needs best:

1. Best Overall: WonderWash Portable Manual Washing Machine

This washer uses arm power rather than foot power. 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 WonderWash 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 since it only holds up to 5 lbs of clothing. So, an outfit at a time.

2. Most Substantial: 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 which are 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 have a family (and more dirty clothes), this product is very appealing. Its capacity and durability make it a major contender. 

3. Most Efficient: 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 washing and rinsing. 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.

The last time we checked, the Lavario machine was out of stock on Amazon, but here’s the link to their Amazon storefront in case it comes back in stock (it’s well worth checking). It’s also available on the Lehman’s website, linked here.

4. Most Compact: 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.

5. Best Budget Foot Pedal: HRD Portable Pedal Clothes Washer

Not only is the HRD Portable Pedal Clothes Washer cute and colorful, but it boasts strong cleaning power. On top of that, it’s also lightweight and easy to use. It only takes about 15 minutes for a load!

This is another foot-powered off grid washing machine if that is a factor for you. As with several of the others here, it’s easy to store and use.

6. Budget Pick: DayOne Gear Laundry Hand Agitator

Now, this one’s a little more minimal than the other manual laundry machines on the list, but I have come to love hand agitators for my laundry.

A hand agitator works, funnily enough, like a toilet plunger. You put your clothes in a bin or bucket, fill it with water, add some soap, and plunge away with the agitator.

Since this gadget is just the agitating part of your laundry, you can use almost anything to create your wash bin, which is where this thing really shines. For example, you can get a $2.00 5-gallon bucket to wash your laundry in, which is a great use of resources.

Additionally, this hand agitator is easy to store and carry with you, whether you’re on the trails or just don’t want a huge device to take up your counter space.

7. Premium Choice: Yirego Drumi Portable Washer

This sleek, cute foot-powered laundry machine doesn’t come at a low price, but most people who have splurged on it don’t regret it.

The Drumi is made out of stainless steel, while the interior parts are made of plastic and aluminum, so it never rusts. Another great feature of this little guy is that you can remove the drum to wash it out. You’ll know exactly how much dirt you’re getting out of your clothes!

This washer also boasts that it can gently wash your hand-washables without causing any damage. Ultimately, that means that it might take more than 10 minutes of pedaling to get dirty and heavy-duty clothes like overalls or jeans clean. That’s its biggest downside.

Like most other washers on this list, the Drumi can wash a load of up to 5 lbs at a time. So, it’s big enough to fit a “man-sized outfit,” just like the WonderWash Portable Manual Washing Machine.

8. Fastest Spin Cycle: Lightweight Mini Manual Washing Machine

While many of the washing machines we discussed above wash your clothes very well, few of them also get your clothes as dry as you’d want. Well, if you want to wring out water faster than the speed of light, this washing machine is for you.

Unlike any other off grid washing machines on this list, the Lightweight Mini Manual Washing Machine uses a string pull mechanism to agitate and dry your clothes.

This little guy also has a surprisingly high capacity of 8.8 lbs of clothing. So, you can even fit bulkier items like sheets in it!

Why Use an Off Grid Washing Machine?

off-grid-washing-machine-outdoor-drying

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. And, really, why use electricity when you don’t have to?

You might ultimately prefer an off grid washing machine to an electric one if you don’t have reliable access to electricity, want to cut down on power usage, or want to be more efficient with your water usage. Manual, non-electric laundry machines are usually small but are great for the environment.

The Disadvantages of Manual Off Grid Laundry Machines

There are caveats, of course. Here are the cons of using an off-grid washing machine:

  • 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).

The Advantages of Non-Electric Washing Machines

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.
  • Manual and off-grid washing machines use less water than the multi-rinse cycles of electric laundry machines. Electric laundry machines use 27 to 51 gallons of water per load! That’s a LOT!

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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2 Comments

  1. I have to say that over the years, I have purchased almost all of these:
    Yirego, Laundry Pod, Lavario, WonderWash, The “plunger” type (didn’t really work), a washboard and bucket, I also have a very tiny washer/dryer electric combo, and have put the HRD Portable Pedal washer plus a spin dryer (electric) on my wish list.

    I wanted one that used a bicycle to operate, for the exercise, but it was only a prototype available in third world countries where electricity and even water are hard to find…

    I have two stand clothes dryers, one made by the Amish that holds quite a lot and I just got a metal one to use on my back porch. (you know, those folding accordion ones with bars to hang clothes inside) Oh, and I also recently purchased a clothesline for air drying outside in the summer. I can still remember my gramma using her clothesline…and I’m 69!

    I know, overkill! But as I age, getting certain things to work for me that aren’t electric are becoming harder and harder. I do want non electric options for when the power is out…Plus, as “preppers” we are told “one is none and two is one”…to have backups, and backups for your backups!

    Thank you so much for the very good post on a topic that not many write about, but that is very needed.

    1. Hi Carol! Thank you so much for your feedback, and I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! The bicycle-powered washing machine idea is incredible! I have a friend who turned their recumbent bicycle into a spinning wheel for making yarn, and maybe we can develop an idea to turn it into a washing machine, too! Now that I know about it, I would love to give it a try. I hope that HRD one works out for you!

      Thanks again, Carol. I hope you have a lovely day and easy laundering for the foreseeable future. 🙂

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