An Off-Grid Laundry Solution: The Lavario Portable Clothes Washer

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When the power goes out, so do all the convenient appliances we depend on to make our lives easy.

No dishwasher? You’ll have to wash all those dishes by hand. No microwave? You’ll have to warm that food up in a solar oven or over a rocket stove. No toaster or blender? You’ll just have to make do!

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The one task that quickly becomes never-ending and backbreaking is laundry. Have you ever washed a full load of laundry, including jeans, by hand? I suppose it’s good for building your hand and arm muscles, but load after load after load? You’ll soon be telling your kids they’ll have to wear the same outfit every day this week! A portable clothes washer can eliminate a good deal of the physical labor involved, and there are numerous options on the market. In prepper circles, the old plunger-and-bucket method is well known.  More sophisticated and effective is the Lavario Portable Clothes Washer. My husband and I had a chance to give this a try and were impressed with the sturdy construction, effective design, and the easy, smooth operation of washing our clothes.

In our testing of the Lavario, we washed a fitted queen-size sheet and two pillowcases. We didn’t want to overfill the washer bucket, and in retrospect, we could have added a few other lightweight items. My husband noticed the non-skid pads on the bottom of the outer bucket and the fact that the drain was placed just below the bottom of the bucket to allow for complete drainage. The Lavario is very well designed.

The white outer bucket holds about 5 gallons of water and we used our garden hose to fill it. The instructions say to add soap to the water, insert the inner bucket and then plunge the bucket up and down 10 times. We did that, and it took just a few seconds — not at all backbreaking, and I certainly didn’t work up a sweat. The second step is to let the laundry soak for 5 minutes and then resume with another 10 plunges.

That’s it.

We opened the drain and then attempted to wring the laundry according to instructions. Once the outer bucket was drained, we dumped the wet clothes into it and then pressed down the inner bucket to squeeze out as much water as possible. At this point, the Lavario was a bit of a letdown, and I had to wring the sheet and pillowcases by hand.

The sheets were clean and smelled fresh. I was happy with the final results. There’s very little effort required to wash a laundry load and it took about 20 minutes, including the time to fill the bucket with water twice.

The Lavario is a good option for power outages, urban off grid living, long-term camping, and an off the grid lifestyle.

Here are my top tips for making off-grid laundry easier no matter what method you choose.

48 thoughts on “An Off-Grid Laundry Solution: The Lavario Portable Clothes Washer”

  1. I have used the “blue plastic plunger thing” and a bucket to clean our laundry while traveling in our camper. It works but is way too time consuming for the clothes of 6 people! I probably should have 6 so we can each do our own laundry. I’d love to win a lavario! Thanks for the chance to win one.

    1. Have you thought about just getting extra buckets? You could use one plunger and just cycle through the buckets. Plunge bucket 1, then let it sit while you plunge buckets 2 and 3, but he time you get one with 3 you can go back to 1 and plunge again, or rinse it. A bit of a perpetual motion set up, but it could let you do three loads in not much longer of a time than it would take to do one load.

  2. Aside from the washer, I have only washed things in the sink before, so this will be quite a step up for me! Thanks for a cool contest!

  3. Just today learned of the Lavario, really enthused about getting one. We just sold our near 3500 square foot home and are in our 31′ RV until we can find something affordable to settle into. All our earthly possessions are in storage until then, including my much beloved washer & 45+ year-old dryer! Laundry chores are not easy here, hauling them to my granddaughter’s wash room when I can arrange it. She has five young children, uses her washer & dryer night & day, and I’m not always able to carry all our dirty duds from our RV to her basement. I have two artificial knees, and a surgically reconstructed right hand, but do all the best I can. Will be 79 yo tomorrow (9/11), and would be thrilled to my toes to have one of these for a birthday present!

  4. Even with wringing by hand, this looks a lot better than the plunger and bucket method. Or just plain old stomping in the bathtub.

  5. I was very interested in your review and appreciate your comments. I wondered about the wringing out of the clothes too. I think if that’s the worst part I can overcome that using my portable wringer. I’d love to add the Lavario to my preps. Thanks for the opportunity!

  6. So far I haven’t tried washing anything without a washing machine! But I certainly do understand the need for something like this, both from the emergency survival perspective, as well as the general off-grid living perspective. Plus, it’s so easy even a husband can do it! (My wife will be very glad to know that.)

  7. I use a Wonder Washer, which can be secured to a wall at the ideal height/orientation (right- or left-handed) for the user, who then turns the crank the specified number of times depending on what is being washed/how dirty the laundry is. If extremely dirty can empty out dirty wash and wash/rinse again.

  8. I’ve only washed smaller items by hand in the sink. Someone mentioned a portable wringer in their comment, I will have to look for one of those too…

  9. Thanks for this opportunity (contest) to be a little more prepared! There are so many things you need in a disaster and this is one no one really thinks about because the basics are forefront in your mind. Your blog makes us aware and gives good information!

  10. Having washed clothes in the bathtub by hand (not very successfully!) I’d love the chance to try this out. I like the concept better than just using a plunger.

  11. I’ve only ever washed by hand when without power but we’ve been looking at portable options for a few reasons. This looks great!

  12. I like this. Would simplify washing clothes big time.
    I wouldn’t even mind ringing clothes out a bit by hand.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  13. I have tried doing laundry in the sink,the bathtub,and using the old fashioned scrub-board.My grandma had a ringer rinse machine and the laundry shot down a shoot from the hamper to the basement which was great fun!!We did laundry in a schoolie tin washtub while in Mexico.

  14. I used to have to wash my clothes by hand while living in South America as a missionary. We used a good ole giant rock to scrub the clothes. I promised myself I would never complain about a washer and dryer ever!

  15. Believe it or not, I have used the old scrub board and soap thing. It is harder to work, but if you need clean clothes, it will get the job done. I picture myself as a pioneer when doing laundry this way. LOL! I have also used the bucket and plunger method. Works great.

  16. I have never washed clothes without an appliance. I want to get something like this for long camping trips so I don’t have to go to the laundry mat.

  17. I’ve handwashed small items in a sink before, and my plan was to do laundry in the bathtub (smash the grapes-style) if needed. I’ve been looking at the Lavario and another hand washer to get around that, so I’m really excited to read your review! The competitor seems like it would ring the clothes out better, but it is WAY heavier, not to mention a higher price point. You may have swayed me further toward the Lavario- thank you for sharing your insights!

  18. i often use my laundry tub, which has a built in wash board. this washer looks like a big step up from that. as for the hand wringing–i can’t manage that as i have a permanently damaged hand. because of that, i got a handle turned, clamp on, manual wringer, which is awesome as long as you remember that fancy buttons might get crunched if you don’t let off the pressure. now, if i had this new washer to put with my wringer, that would be an awesome combo for clean clothes.

  19. Thanks for your review! My husband and I are retired and money can be tight on a fixed budget. I think the Lavario would be an excellent addition to our household. If power ever went out we would be in trouble if we had to do even a small load of laundry. I’ve tried to do some small loads before when we’ve had winter storms. It wasn’t too difficult doing a few items in our laundry room sink but the wringing out was a trial for arthritic hands. We’ve been trying to find one of the old “Mangle” machines that attaches to our wash tub but haven’t been able to find one as yet. Maybe a few trips to some antique stores is in order!

  20. Luckily I have never had to wash clothes without a washer and hope I never have to. This washer looks like it might be one of the better options, should the need arise.

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