There has probably been a time in all of our lives where we performed a sniff test before deciding if we could don a piece of clothing or not. Though this may be a little on the gross side, imagine a world post TEOTWAWKI when tossing clothes into the washer and pressing a button is no more. At that point, clothing is going to wind up pretty offensive to the sense of smell after a while unless you're equipped to do something about it.
Having clean laundry is nice. Wearing clothes that are not splattered with stains of unknown origin and that feel soft to the touch is something to appreciate. Of course, when you are forced to live off the grid after a natural disaster or other world changing event, being able to take advantage of the shiny Maytag in your laundry room will quickly become a thing of the past. Then what?
Although some may not wish to prioritize washing clothing, instead opting to grin and bear it, the fact of the matter is that there are real reasons why washing clothing is important. For starters, clean clothing aids in mitigating disease as washing does away with germs that could lead to illness. Second of all, clean clothing is warm clothing; clothes that are caked in filth lose their warming ability over time. Lastly, the presence of bodily oils, dirt, and miscellaneous grime will actually degrade clothing, causing it to fail ahead of its prime as rips and tears reduce it to rags. With all of this in mind it is obvious that washing clothes is just another survival task we must tackle, but how?
Photo: Prepared for That
When deciding by which means you wish to conquer your mountain of laundry, the first step is to accurately assess that mountain as that will give you an idea as to the washer size and supplies you will need. Though you will be more prone to conserving and reusing to some extent after the SHTF, go ahead and take a look at what a week's worth of laundry amounts to now. Once you have determined your laundry load, decide on a plan for staying on top of washing. There are a few different ways to do laundry without power, all of which depend on your level of commitment. Then imagine washing all those clothes manually, or better yet, go ahead and do so. This will give you a realistic grasp on the time and supplies it will take the stay springtime fresh.
The traditional standby for laundering clothes without power includes water, biodegradable soap, buckets, a container, or a trough of some kind. Also important are a washboard for scrubbing stains if need be and a means of agitation as well as a place to hang clothes for drying. The cheapest way to handle dirty clothes is submersing in a bucket of soapy water, then agitating with a device such as this plunger to help remove ground in dirt and stains as well as odor.
If you're a fan of convenience, however, you may wish to invest ahead of time in a device to help the process along. Though this can be pricey, it may be worth it to save on the manual labor. Depending on the device you choose, such as the Lehman's Own Hand Washer or Laundry Pod, you may be able to purchase an all-inclusive device that is operated by hand. Also interesting but not available until 2016 is the Drumi, with which you can wash your clothes while sitting down with simply the flick of a foot.
Having clean clothes is going to be another survival base we must have covered by whatever means necessary. Though the chore itself may take on a slightly new form, it is still something that can and needs to be performed. Since cleanliness or lack thereof can impact the health of yourself and your family, doing laundry is definitely on the list.
What are your survival laundry plans? Have you constructed your own device or are you shopping for one that is ready to go? Let us know your recommendations in the comments.