Washing clothes used to be one of the most backbreaking chores for women. There were two reasons for this: the lack of automation, and the lack of modern detergents. The widespread use of both automation and detergents meant that what used to be an all-day task became a simple matter of tossing clothes into a machine, adding some detergent, and pressing a button.
However, this widespread automation means off-grid laundry is almost a forgotten art. Fortunately there have been amazing advances in non-electric laundry options. These new advances will work for those who are off-grid, living in apartments, RVers, or others who don’t have continuous access to a washing machine.
One of the most popular and inexpensive off-grid laundry options is the breathing mobile washer.
How the Breathing Mobile Washer Works
Getting clothes clean consists of two parts: agitation, and a cleanser (such as detergent). A breathing mobile washer can provide the agitation. It’s made of sturdy plastic and looks like a toilet plunger on steroids. Its distinguishing feature is a ribbed underside which allows the water and detergent to push AND pull through the clothes, hence “breathing.” Perforated plungers can push water down through the clothing, but only a breathing washer can push and AND pull water up through the clothing via suction, getting twice the agitation for the same amount of work. (And, being plastic, it doesn’t rust or need oiling.)
Tips and Tricks
One thing to keep in mind with the breathing mobile washer is you have to keep loads small. Don’t expect it can handle the same capacity as a standard washing machine tub, because it can’t. If you’re washing something very heavy (such as flannel-lined overalls or heavy buffalo shirts), limit the load to no more than one or two garments. Using three gallons of water in a six-gallon bucket is about right, and you can wash two or three loads in the same water if the garments aren’t too soiled.
A breathing mobile washer only takes a couple minutes of agitation to do the job. For very soiled loads, agitate for a minute or two, then let the clothes soak for 15 minutes, then agitate again before rinsing.
For rinsing, either drop the washed clothes into another bucket with clean water and agitate as before, or lift the wet clothes into a basket, change the dirty water for clean, and then agitate the clothes to rinse.
Extracting the water before hanging can be done by hand-wringing, pressing, spinning, inserting into a mop squeeze bucket, or using a wringer.
Some easy modifications for a breathing mobile washer include a longer handle (such as a broom handle) and a bucket lid with a hole in the center for the handle, which prevents splashing.
Having off-grid options for laundry is always wise, and a breathing mobile washer is an inexpensive and functional product to consider.