Laundry, moving through life’s cycles

How do we do a simple task like laundry? Is there a bucket and washboard involved? No, we are off grid, not in the 1800s. We purposely bought an older electric Kenmore washing machine with no computer, just plain old knobs and dials. At first that was not our intention, we went shopping for a brand-new model, but the energy saving models all seem to have computers and these machines generally use power whether they are on or not. Why waste electricity when not using an appliance? We also read many reviews and learned the newer appliances are not made to last. Krista and I both remember our parents had the same machines not for just a few years, but for decades. We shopped around and found a gentlemen whose business was to restore old discarded washing machines. We decided to purchase an older model that was rebuilt, has no computer, and can wash huge loads of laundry when putting laundry day off for that next sunny day in the winter. The energy efficiency isn’t the greatest, but we find the 1200 watt per hour expense acceptable.

On a side note, we also take the gray water from the laundry and separate it from the black water of the toilet.  The gray water from washing our clothes is diverted to a cistern that we can use to water our garden.  Hooking up a series of filters, a pump, and sprinkler system is another project to be completed in early summer.

Parts and tools I used to build our indoor clothesline.

Parts and tools I used to build our indoor clothesline.

Now drying is a different situation. The picture shows all the parts I purchased at our local Co-op and the tools required to build our clothes dryer. From the picture, you probably guessed we built a clothes line. I used a plastic coated 1/8 inch cable. This cable can hold some serious weight without stretching or breaking. It may be overkill, but if I am going to build something, it will be right the first time and built to last. The clothes line is also built with a turn buckle to adjust the line’s tension and for easy removal, so guests don’t have to wonder why there is a cable stretched across the room.

An up close picture of our clothes line turn buckle system.  I got the idea from the safety lines on our sailboat.

An up close picture of our clothes line turn buckle system. I got the idea from the safety lines on our sailboat.

This was also a personal request from Krista. However, once I put it up, Krista hasn’t taken it down. The two ends of the clothes line are connected to eye-screws attached to the wall studs on opposite sides of the room. I built two clothes lines, one across the open hallway and the other in the battery/laundry room. This is for fall and winter clothes drying. During the spring and summer, we use an outdoor clothes line. Our drying time on the clothes in the house is about 8-10 hours. Drying time outside on a sunny day is about 3 hours.

Hang drying clothes indoors on a clothes line I built.  It was so, easy.

Hang drying clothes indoors on a clothes line I built. It was so, easy.

Yes, hang drying clothes takes longer, but we have also realized some weird and beneficial side effects. Since we started hang drying, my clothes have been growing not shrinking. My t-shirts that have always shrunk are actually about an inch longer than the day I bought them. My pants are not getting holes in the knees as fast. My shirts are retaining their colors and not fading. My sweaters are not shrinking either, but now I wish they would. If you want your clothes to last longer, hang drying is the way to go. Plus, the electricity I save is between 3,500 to 5,000 watts a load.

On a side note, we don’t buy laundry detergent anymore. Krista makes her own laundry soap for about 1/10th the price found in the stores. She will be posting her recipe soon.

2 thoughts on “Laundry, moving through life’s cycles

  1. Haha, living in the RV with limited solar, we go the old fashioned route. We have used a bucket with a modified plunger (we bought one new and then cut holes in it… haha) to wash our laundry. It actually works really well, it’s just time consuming mostly due to the fact that a bucket can only hold so much at once. I have acquired 2 bath tubs however, and think that those would make an awesome upgrade from our bucket. I saw that someone constructed something that once, with mega-“plungers” to agitate. Other alternatives I had heard of include washers with a board inside and a handle to move the board, which seemed pretty appealing to me. And some people even find a way to attach their laundry washing containers to the back of a rocking chair and wash their clothes while they sit back and read, haha. I think even heard of putting clothes in buckets of water in the back of the car and just driving around on bumpy roads to wash, but I think I like to drive too slow on bumpy roads for the sake of my car for that to work all that well, haha.

    And clothes lines are wonderful. I really like yours! Good idea with the plastic coated cable. Synthetic rope lines deteriorate in the sun and leave particles on the clothes, and natural fibers like to mold… not to mention the not sagging part. May have to try that! 🙂
    I had too much moisture inside the RV during the winter to dry laundry in here… but when we build that will change! And for those who say that their clothes get too starchy when line drying, white vinegar can make a nice clothes softener. Plus, wringing out the clothes well enough (which washing machines would do pretty well for you) using the right amount of soap, hanging on a day with a breeze, et cetera, can really affect things.


    • We thought about purchasing a wringer washer
      or a refurbished one if we had to worry about water. Electricity was our 1st system and water was our second. Once I started the water system it took about a month for a single faucet in the house, due to unforeseen problems with the pressure tank we purchased, had to return, and wait for a new one. Laundry was the next faucet working within a few days. With each new faucet Krista and I would dance in celebration.


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