Innovations in solar and wind power are changing how off-grid homeowners produce and consume energy by the day.
Although these technological advancements certainly cut down your electric bill, the problem is they only produce about 50% of the energy needed to power even an average-sized home.
So, if you're planning to transition to an off-grid location, the fact of the matter is power will be an issue if you haven't considered alternatives for all your electric appliances.
To minimize stress, I highly recommend that homeowners go through each appliance before moving off-grid and decide which models best meet their individual needs. And it's a good idea to start with the devices that require the most electricity, most notably off-grid washing machines.
We have already published articles on off-grid toilets and off-grid internet solutions with plenty more content in the works, so stay tuned if you're interested in going off-grid full-time. Otherwise, take a moment to explore articles covering similar lifestyles like the tiny house movement, digital nomadism, or even van life. Let's begin!
Strictly speaking - it isn't impossible to power a washing machine purely off of solar energy.
However, the sheer amount of electricity that's required to get through even one wash cycle will drain a lot of the power at your disposal, potentially leaving you without electricity for several hours.
The excess water usage combined with the less than energy-efficient nature of the appliances makes washing clothes a virtual nightmare for any homesteader.
Luckily, plenty of off-grid washing machine options exist to help you get clean clothes without wasting water or electricity, and I'll go through each one in detail after the buyer's guide section.
I also want to mention that while this article will not focus on DIY methods, I'll be publishing a piece on that topic soon, so stay tuned for upcoming blogs featuring information about DIY washers, clothes wringers, spin dryers, and much more!
The dimensions of your off-grid washing machine are essential for two reasons. It must be small enough to fit inside your home. But on the flip side, it must have a big enough capacity to accommodate a whole load of laundry in one sitting.
While this is easy to accomplish if you live alone, it's a much more challenging task for medium to large size families. To see the dimensions of each off-grid washing machine listed below, read the takeaway or click on the provided link for more information.
When living off-grid, it makes sense to invest in an emergency generator. I live off-grid in the New Mexico mountains, and trust me, they come in handy in many situations. Quite frankly, appliances break, and storm damage happens. And when it does, you'll want a secondary power source for backup.
However, try to avoid using the generator as much as possible because they require a good amount of fuel.
For that reason, it's worth looking into manual washing machines because they don't require electricity, inverters, or even solar power in most cases.
Want to know how manual off-grid washing machines work? That leads us nicely onto our next section.
There are two main types of manual washing machines for off-grid living. And they work on very similar principles. You add water and detergent into some form of the tub and agitate the laundry until the soap removes any stains and odors. Now, let's look at a few types of manual off-grid washing machines.
The first type of off-grid washing machine is manual hand-crank models. They require you to turn a crank with your hand to agitate the laundry. Examples include the Wonderwash, the Laundry Pod, and the Lavario Washer, to name a few.
The other manual washing machine requires you to push a pedal to agitate the laundry in the tub. Over the years, I noticed this type requires far less physical exertion than hand-crank models. If this kind of off-grid washing machine is of particular interest to you, I recommend our sixth pick, the Yirego Drumi.
Keep reading to learn more about the different types.
One of the clear advantages of manual washing machines is that they don't feature an overcomplicated array of buttons and dials. Compared to electrical washing machines, their functionality, upkeep, cost, and consumption are more straightforward.
At the same time, manual washers don't have spin-dry features, so consider that a separate issue altogether if you're living in an off-grid cabin without power.
Another benefit of manual off-grid washing machines is they are easy to maintain. Ideally, you don't want to take your appliance to a repair shop, and you don't want to use a maintenance person either. Remember, when you're off-grid, you're far away from civilization, so it's best to simplify things as much as possible.
Therefore, try to find motorless appliances and stick to models with few moving parts to avoid potential problems in a breakdown. The good news is I made sure to include several options for off-grid washing machines that will last a long time and won't require much (if any) maintenance.
Please don't spend any more money on your off-grid washing machine than you need to. We encourage you to go ahead and check the prices of all the devices that we've shown you here today. Decide on your budget and stick to it as best you can. Money doesn't grow on trees.
You may have noticed that we tried to select options for various budgets in our washing machine reviews. Just be aware that even the old-fashioned methods cost more than expected.
So, if you're aiming to save money, start from the top of the list and work your way down.
Some off-grid washing machines require less water than others. But how much detergent you need depends on how many people live in your home and the level of dirt in your clothes.
No matter how much laundry you have, manual washing machines significantly reduce your electricity bill. Depending on your method, there's a good chance you won't use as near as much water or detergent either.
When living off-grid, these can be huge advantages.
While doing your laundry off the government's power grid isn't rocket science, there's still a lot to consider if you want a setup that's ideal for the long term. While planning and preparation are critical, you need to be careful during the buying process, which is the real reason I wrote this article.
Either way, here are a few expert considerations for off-grid washing machines.
So, washing machines that can wash as many clothes as possible in one sitting are preferable. And if this is of particular interest to you, we can recommend off-grid washing machines with a capacity of at least 10 pounds.
The Easy Go (item number one) is ideal because you can use the wand with any tub of your liking, regardless of the size. If you have a big family or go through many clothes, skip down to this option and learn how to optimize your process with laundry wands.
Another thing to consider is the drying of the clothes. Before drying the clothes on the line, you must first drain the tub of dirty water and wring the clothes dry. In any case, the sun isn't a reliable source to dry your laundry.
Luckily, there are plenty of devices that cater to electric-free drying methods. Below, I'm going to list out six of my favorite off-grid washing machines, and I'll be sure to include options for drying as well. It's vital to consider drying before buying because not all models on this list take drying into account.
It's a good idea to try and purchase a model that comes alongside a decent warranty, especially if you're prepared to spend good money.
Manufacturers' warranties indicate good quality, not to mention they protect your investment in the event of a malfunction. Setting up an off-grid homestead is always taxing enough; the last thing you want is the added stress of a product that breaks soon after it's purchased.
While this list is far from exhaustive, it includes much more than general washboards and hand-crank wringers. Although those items will appear on the list, I made sure to have various options.
The only thing that you should keep in mind is that due to their smaller size, a large family will need to do several small loads to get the job done all in one day.
Aside from that, I'll introduce off-grid washing machines from every side of the price spectrum, which is why I ordered the appliances from cheap to expensive.
Next, I will break down each appliance by cost, explain how to use it, and review the most prominent features of each so that you can make an informed decision.
The old-school method of manually washing your clothes involves getting a plunger, a washtub, some laundry detergent, and putting in a bit of elbow grease. At an average price of around $25, this is also one of the cheapest options for manual off-grid washing machines.
You pile all of your clothes in the tub, pour in water and a detergent, and use the plunger to push the clothes down into the water and work out the dirt.
The handwashing method is tried and tested and very much alive and well today, but the EasyGo Washing Wand makes off-grid laundry quite a bit simpler. The ergonomic design and the overall shape and functionality of the nozzle make it much easier to use, but there are a few tradeoffs.
The only downside to this option is that it's the least convenient method in terms of manual labor. However, unlike most of the appliances on this list, there are no limitations on the load size. There's no tub connected to The EasyGo Wand, so output depends on the amount of laundry.
The Takeaway: The EasyGo is a portable model that fits directly inside an 8 x 8 x 8-inch container. The EasyGo uses an average of 5-10 gallons of water per cycle. It's portable, plastic, and patent-pending.
The portable Wonderwash is one of the most popular models within the off-grid and tiny home community because of its small size and low price point ($69.99).
The Wonderwash is a non-electric hand-crank-powered washing machine, which means that it's a perfect fit for your off-grid laundry needs.
Since it lacks a motor or any moving parts, this particular clothes washer will likely serve you well without needing repairs or maintenance.
The vertical lever attached to this off-grid washing machine lets you set the spin cycle speed yourself. You can turn the level a bit more rigorously to take care of stubborn stains faster, or you can go gently for any softer fabrics.
While this will require a bit of elbow grease, it'll allow you to wash your clothes without any fear of the colors getting damaged by the rapid spinner motion that many washing machines have.
The Takeaway: The Wonderwash's dimensions are 16 x 12 x 12 inches, and its capacity is 2.26 kilograms or five pounds. It uses 90% less water than the standard machine and has no spin-dry cycle.
The Laundry POD is almost identical to the Wonderwash in function and loading procedures. At the moment, the Pod costs $98.98, making it one of the cheaper devices on my list.
The Laundry POD is a hand-operated manual washing machine. It's loaded from the top by placing your clothes, a few gallons of water, and a small amount of laundry detergent through the opening.
It rotates manually, allowing the soapy water to remove the dirt from your clothes. To use this off-grid washing machine, you also need a small tub or a sink. Depending on the size of the loads, you'll probably want to drain the water after each cycle to maximize freshness.
The main difference between the two is the handle's location and the movement of the machine itself. The Wonderwash is turned forward or backward with the handle, and the device held up by a stand.
On the other hand, the Laundry POD uses sideways or spinning motions to turn the cage inside the machine where all clothes are loaded.
This laundry loading area inside the washing machine is also called an agitator — a term reserved for "devices that stir liquids."
The Takeaway: The Laundry POD costs just under $100. For just a bit more money ($136.65), you can get one that comes with a rack. The Laundry Pod's dimensions are 14.45 x 14.02 x 13.55 inches, and it holds up to six liters of liquid. You'll need no more than 1.5 teaspoons of detergent for each load. Each cycle takes under ten minutes.
At a price tag of around $150, the Lavario Portable Clothes Washer is the best mid-range off-grid washing machine on the market, in my opinion.
The Lavario manual washing machine has a 5-gallon bucket and a clothes basket with a long upward handle.
The procedure is pretty simple; all you have to do is put your dirty clothes in the basket and fill the water bucket up to the halfway point.
Next, add detergent to the water, but the clothes inside, and let it soak for about 20-30 minutes. After that, you're going to grab the basket handle and move it up and down as you would a plunger.
This motion will create an agitator effect, thus washing your clothes. There are also holes at the top of the basket that rinse clothes as you move the handle.
The Takeaway: The Lavario Portable Washer is ideal for RVs, van life, tiny homes, camping, and off-grid homesteading. Its size is 19 x 19 x 24 inches, and it weighs ten pounds. According to Amazon, it handles bulky items like towels and blue jeans very well and has a five-gallon capacity.
Although all the other off-grid washing machines on this list operate without electricity, I wanted to include at least one automatic option for those with power access.
At $279.99, the Giantex Portable Washing Machine is the second most expensive appliance under review today. The Giantex has a control panel with an LED display and eight water level options, unlike the other machines. It's top-loading and has a laundry washer spin and a drain pump.
Even though it uses electricity, the Giantex is still very compact and lightweight, which is why it belongs on this list. The inner compartment holds 9.92 pounds per cycle, meaning you can do more laundry in one sitting with this machine than the other five items featured.
There are a few tradeoffs with this device. While you can certainly do much more laundry in one sitting, you'll need to have both a water line and electricity installed before you can use it.
In most cases, you'll also need a specific snap coupling adaptor which you can add to your Amazon order in one click. If you're interested in this item, make sure to accommodate this machine as it requires specific resources.
Regardless, it's a highly-rated washing machine, and many people in the off-grid community use it.
The Takeaway: The Giantex Compact Washing Machine weighs 51 pounds with dimensions of 19 x 19 x 33.5 inches. Its capacity is 10 kilograms or just over 20 pounds.
The Yirego Drumi is one of the best manual washing machines out there, but it has a much higher price tag than those previously mentioned.
The Yirego off-grid washing machine has a hatch at the top and a pedal in the front, meaning you control the circular agitator using your foot instead of a hand crank. Take note that this method drastically minimizes manual labor.
The major downside of this option is that it costs $399, which is well above average. If you have the funds and the resources, the Yirego is worth checking out.
The Takeaway: The Yirego Drumi weighs 22 pounds and supports loads up to five pounds. You can finish a cycle in ten minutes, and it easily fits inside your camper, tiny home, or any off-grid small space. It uses no electricity and has a basic spin-dry cycle, although you'll still need to dry your laundry afterward.
There will be high-efficiency washing machines that use far less water and power than a standard model.
However, homesteading is about preparedness, and it's honestly doubtful that you'll be able to run even a small washing machine in a tiny house without installing a substantial solar panel array.
The above options might not be as convenient as standard load-and-press machines, but they have undeniable benefits for those living off-grid.
For further information on sustainable living, including the use of manual washing machines, please check out this Wikipedia link.
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