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Off Grid Laundry Alternative - Drying Solution  RSS feed

 
pollinator
Posts: 223
Location: Western North Carolina - Zone 7B stoney
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I am transitioning into a full time off-grid sustainable living situation, and laundry is one of the things that I need to find a solution for. 

My detergent and washing solution has already been found.  I am in love with using Dr Bronners, a laundry plunger, and a slim kitchen trash can.  This combination works perfect for me, but I know that I can get a better system for wringing and drying.

Sure, an easy solution would be to purchase an old style wringer off Amazon.  They are about 150 dollars, and I know that they will work great.  That is exactly the type of setup that I want, but I am looking to do it quite cheaper.  In lieu of finding a wringer in a garage sale, swap meet, or antiques shop, I just "might" have thought of a cheaper solution.  How feasible would it be to use a Mop Bucket with Wringer to wring out the laundry? 

I am thinking of the model that a janitor would use, not a small household one.  I would want one that can take the abuse of weekly washing, without collapsing.  My intuition says that this should work.  What do you think? 

At the cost of just under 50 dollars, I can get a bucket and wringer delivered.  I would get one with a removable wringer, because a bucket is a great tool on any homestead. 

Do you think the mop bucket would wring clothes well enough?  Here, I don't think a single t-shirt would work well, but I would want to put a batch of 3 or 4 shirts to be wrung out. 

I would like to hear what you all think. 
 
garden master
Posts: 922
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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I don’t know how well your proposed wringer will work.

From the methods I have tried… Worst to best methods of wringing out clothes- for me.

By hand. Clothes have so much remaining water, they are dripping as I hang ‘em up!

The old style galvanized steel bucket with rollers does NOT do the job. https://www.ebay.com/p/Behrens-412W-Galvanized-Steel-MOP-Pail-With-Roller-12-Quarts/1239341368?iid=131696215747 While it will squish some water out, once hung, the clothes are soon actively dripping.

We made a strainer that is better, out of two 5 gallon pails. The bottom pail has ½ inch holes drilled into its’ bottom, spaced at about 2 inches apart, and again about 3 inches up the sides. I put a pillow case in the bottom of this pail filled with pea gravel to about 2 inches deep. Clothes are placed within this pail, on top of the folded over pillow case containing the pea gravel. The second bucket, filled to the brim with pea gravel is then placed into the first bucket, on top of the clothes, pressing out a significant amount of water wich drains through the holes. I let it stand 5-10 minutes. Then everything gets hung. It is ‘dry’ enough that dripping takes about 10 minutes to commence.

I wish I could wring them out as well as the clothes washer can get them. Drying time would be greatly reduced.
 
William Wallace
pollinator
Posts: 223
Location: Western North Carolina - Zone 7B stoney
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I looked at the bucket with rollers on it, but that was about 40 dollars, and for a few more dollars I could get the commercial janitor bucket with wringer.  I've used those style of buckets to "dry mop" quite effectively over the years, so I know that I can get a good wring out on a mop.  This might take a bit of finesse to work with clothes, but I also don't see why it wouldn't work.  Surely, the clothes on the top would get more wrung out, because the liquid would seep down to the lower clothes.  so I've imagined that I would have to rotate the clothes in the wringer, with the newest wettest clothes going to the bottom for the first wring, and then above the wettest clothes on the second wring out.  Yes, getting them as dry as the spin cycle of a washer would be quite helpful. 

I did see this machine, https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/drumi-the-foot-powered-washing-machine#/
It's neat, because it requires no electricity, and it looks like it could do well as a wring out machine.  At 299 dollars plus shipping, it's not something that I can see investing in at the moment.  I also wonder if it would be a bunch of work over the long run.  My wash routine is pretty simple, and simple is cheap. 
 
Posts: 6548
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Wuzzing works

Back when I was washing wool fleeces for spinning I used this method to spin out the water.
It must be done outdoors and in small amounts.
Use a net bag or a small bucket with holes in the bottom with a rope attached.
Hang on to the rope and spin fast enough to create some centrifugal force to remove the water.
I don't have an illustration...you'll be spinning with your arm extended, moving from the shoulder, like a windmill.

It does work for small amounts of wet clothing also...we washed by hand for years, including cloth diapers.  I sometimes used this method but more often just twisted to remove much of the water and hung on the garden fence.

This is not a good idea if you have any shoulder problems of course..my shoulders cringe at the thought this morning
 
garden master
Posts: 1860
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I wring a little by hand and then put the article of clothing into a bucket and then hang on the line to drip dry. Unless I am trying to save the water, clothes drip dry better because there are less wrinkles.
 
Posts: 69
Location: Manila
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Judith Browning wrote:you'll be spinning with your arm extended, moving from the shoulder, like a windmill.

this absolutely works, not just for clothes but for salad too (less vigorous spinning though). I like hearing "Won't get fooled again" whenever I dry clothes this way.
 
pollinator
Posts: 534
Location: Pac Northwest
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I know this might not be a popular thing to say, but you might consider that the cost of a good wringer from Lehmans or Amazon might be worth it vs trying to make due with something that doesn't quite get the job done.

A mop bucket wringer isn't going to ever get clothes as dry as a good wringer designed for clothing. The spin machines made for laundry are rarely made for long term use. They are designed for minimal use vacationing or small batches of delicate clothes. They will not hold up to heavy constant use. In the end you might end up spending more trying out different alternatives that you would have if you had gotten the right wringer in the first place.

I do understand wanting to save money, or not having it to spend. Sometimes though it makes sense to save up for quality rather than making due with something inferior. You might spend some time on ebay looking for a wringer, I did a quick search there and found several in the $100 range that looked worth while. If you spent a month looking around ebay you might find a good deal and get a wringer for under $100.

Another option might be DIY building a wringer.

Like this guy.



or this guy



Or this DIY spin drier



Something about DIY though is it is dependent upon your skills building and the tools you have available. As well as often times to really do it right you might have to build it several times to get it working right, especially if you don't have a functional example of how it is done.

Not trying to be discouraging or anything. I did a lot of looking into offgrid laundry systems and ended up biting the bullet and getting a Lehmans hand washer and wringer. Because after all the looking at alternatives, I couldn't find anything that would last and work as well. So rather than opting for one of the alternatives I spent the money to get something that worked, and has a proven track record of working. Because at the end of the day, laundry is something you will spend enough time at that you want to do it as efficiently and well as possible. It is a chore that when you are doing it mostly manually you really need to find the best equipment possible to do it to save time and effort.
 
William Wallace
pollinator
Posts: 223
Location: Western North Carolina - Zone 7B stoney
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I very much appreciate the replies.  I do see the value of an old-fashioned wringer.  Around 100 to 150 is not too bad, but it's a single use item.  I do like the helicopter spin method, and if done right, it could hydrate a garden.  It would be similar to a sprinkler system.  Also, the helicopter spin method would provide exercise, and there's nothing bad with that. 

I like the manual helicopter method for one main reason .....  it's the idea of exercising while finishing a task.  There was a theory or opinion that working out in a gym is one of the most selfish and non-constructive tasks done by humans.  A much more contributory exercise would be chopping wood.  You not only provide for yourself, but you are improving your health at the same time.  The same theory would apply to the heli-spin method. 

Granted, a wringer would be easier ..... but the spin method would indeed be cheaper.  That is one of the things that I was looking to have.  I want the method to be easy, and low cost.  It would pair with my trash can plunger method quite well.  I would also imagine that this would be a cool experience in the summertime, with a mist of water projected in my general area.  While my plunger would not transition to backpacking easily ,a mesh bag and rope surely would.  While backpacking, I could simply wash items in one of those large clothes storage bags (that could also double as a dry bag inside of my pack). 

I always appreciate the forward thinking that you guys have.  The conversations here are amazing. 
 
gardener
Posts: 1474
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Reading this thread, I feel Americans (and I am one) are too dependent on technology to do things that are perfectly easy to do by hand. In my 25 years living in the mountains in India, I've been washing clothes by hand, wringing them by hand, and drying them on the line. For my normal laundry, wringing by hand works great. Most of my clothing is cotton or similar, and I just wring the water out of each item as tight as I can, wrapping it around a fixed pipe if necessary, eg for jeans. Then hold the garment by two corners and snap it out straight 3 times to reduce wrinkles, and put it on the line. It doesn't "drip-dry" because no drips come out. Synthetics, especially fleece, sometimes don't wring out completely and do drip, so I come back half an hour later and squeeze drips out of the bottom bit hanging. On the rare occasions I wash fine shaped wool or silk, I don't wring so hard, and do more of the snapping. Down coats and sleeping bags are the one type where a high-speed spinner is very helpful, to get all the water out in order to rinse thoroughly several times, so a few times I've done those in a friend's washing machine.

Washing by hand does get old and sometimes I'm too lazy, but it does get things much cleaner than in a machine, I must say! Seriously. Putting two discolored socks on your hands and rubbing them together with some common hand soap or bath soap for 10 seconds gets them cleaner than a machine ever will. Folding over the leg of jeans to scrub stained areas (or use a laundry brush) with detergent or plain old soap gets jeans cleaner than I've ever seen a machine do with commercial laundry detergent.
 
Anne Miller
garden master
Posts: 1860
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Rebecca Norman wrote: I come back half an hour later and squeeze drips out of the bottom bit hanging.



I come back later and turn the items so what was on the line with clothes pins is now on the bottom and what used to be the bottom is now hanging with the clothes pins.  These are usually jeans or pants sometimes cotton socks.
 
Posts: 190
Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
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We washed clothes for many years with the plunger and hand wringer method (wringer was the same as the kind that Lehman's Hardware sell). I also grew up using a wringer washer with my mom. An important note is that wringers are hard on textiles and buttons, particularly if you aren't careful in how you feed stuff through it. And the clothes don't get as dry as with a centrifugal spin. We still use a plunger to augment our very small Haier washing machine. Its main contribution to laundry processing is the spin cycles. The Haier was $180 new a few years ago and was small enough to fit in our Geo Metro at the time. BTW, we are off grid and have a rainwater cistern so energy and water conservation are very important to us in setting up our systems.
 
Posts: 571
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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In Australia 90 % of clothes are dried on outside clothes lines.
There is no need for electric driers unless its raining and then you hang the clothes under a veranda or in a shed.
 
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