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