October 17, 2019

Off-Grid Laundry

You may recall that our winter project last year was repairing the carport. While we were working on it, we discussed what to do with the space. Once upon a time we parked our jeep there, but eventually it became more useful for things other than a car. Expanding it to store firewood was one of the upgrades, and that left us with space to spare.

Our expanded carport.

When Dan installed a rain catchment tank,

Getting rainwater catchment installed.

we decided to set up an area for laundry. On the back side of the carport, it would be convenient to the clothesline.

Clothesline behind the carport.



Once upon a time, the bricks were our old fireplace.


We've gradually been accumulating everything we need.

My washboard and plunger are circa Y2K! My detergent is
Ecos, the only greywater safe detergent I can find locally.

We hope to use water mostly come from rain catchment.


Last Sunday we got our first rain since August. Only half an inch, but it's a start toward quenching the thirsty ground and refilling our rain tanks.

Because I didn't want to dump the tub water all in one place, Dan installed a hose bib in each tub.


This way I can empty the tubs via hose to where the water is needed most.

No, I haven't used it yet! But we've finally got it set up and I've found good information on doing laundry the old fashioned way. One resource is The Laundry Manual; or, Washing Made Easy, published in 1863 by "A Professed Launderer." It's now public domain and available for free download from the U.S. Archive. It discusses how to clean various fabrics, soap making, removing stains, starching, ironing, and polishing. It also has a section on bread making!

The other resource is a series of videos from Townsends, who are 18th century living historians. This series is definitely worth a watch:


The other thing we'd like to use the carport for is an outdoor kitchen. Nothing's finalized on that yet, but we're working on it. 

Off-Grid Laundry © October 2019

26 comments:

Ed said...

If all else fails, you have the washboard to use as an instrument in a band.

Kev Alviti said...

Townsend is probably my favourite channel on Youtube! I watch it over normal TV!
Do you get horse chestnuts (conkers) growing around you they make a great washing liquid so I'm told! The vikings used them for washing. And completely natural and easy to store if you dehydrate them. Something I want to try.
I'd love an outdoor set up like that though, I just need some more undercover space, it can be so wet here, another firewood store would be ideal for us.
Be careful with that mangle, they were the cause of many injuries and death in the past, they would pull the skin off a whole arm if caught wrong.

Chris said...

How exciting to develop these fallback plans, before you actually NEED them. Because I fully understand the process of slowly acquiring what you need. It takes a good amount of time, to fit the budget.

I love the continued rustic theme, but I'm sure that's more out of necessity too. Repurposing materials as you can find them. All those bricks. I'm on the hunt for some pavers at the moment. I can buy them new, but what I need them for, wouldn't do new ones any justice. I need used, because they're going to be abused, lol.

I like the idea of a outside kitchen too. Something I have contemplated doing, but not sure it would suit the current infrastructure we have. If I can change it (within a reasonable budget) then an outdoors kitchen becomes more viable. In the meantime though, I'll eagerly await what you come up with. The outside laundry looks great though. :)

Leigh said...

Ed, lol. You know, I thought I remembered that washboard as being a glass one. In fact, I know that once upon a time I had a glass one. Where the galvanized one came from I don't know! But I figure at least I've got one.

Kev, I didn't realize Townsends had a regular TV show. But then, we don't have TV, so huzzah for YouTube! Interesting about the horse chestnuts, I didn't know that. As far as I know, there's not one around.

Chris, being proactive is always a good idea! Actually, we have done some laundry by hand, and Dan and I agree it truly gets clothes cleaner than the conventional washing machine. It's too bad we didn't get this ready until now, the brink of cold weather. I confess I'm less likely to come outside to do laundry when the weather's freezing. On the other hand, if my 30-something year old washing machine finally dies, I can likely move this set-up indoors if I need to.

Kristina said...

I've wanted an outdoor cook stove for years now. It would keep the heat outside. With Hubby working full time and over time, we run out of time to get much done sadly. Maybe one day we'll get it put in.

Leigh said...

Kristina, putting our electric stove on the back porch for summer use was a decision I've never regretted. It is hard to be patient, though, when work demands so much time. We lived with that when Dan was over the road. Hang in there!

Henny Penny said...

You and Dan are amazing! I just love how all that area looks. We were so thankful to get rain yesterday...almost all day.

Leigh said...

Henny,thanks! It will look really pretty in summer, because the bushes there are roses of sharon. Beautiful blooms all summer long. :)

Rain said...

Leigh that is wonderful! What a great set up! Using the rain water is such a great idea. You two are so savvy! Thanks for the link for the laundry manual, I'm going to look at that. Doing things the old fashioned way is where I'm heading hopefully. I rely way too much on the washer and dryer here and I hate that! I love the idea of an outdoor kitchen too!

J.L. Murphey said...

I actually had the same set up at my old homestead. Not under a car port, mind you. When I was in rehab after my first stroke, they tried to reteach me how to do things with one hand and leg. I was like show how to hang clothes on a line, wring out clothes for a wringer, cooking on a rocket stove, how to pick up my husband off the floor or help him get out of the tub, how to get on the roof to sweep the solar panels, etc. Their mouths hit the floor. They couldn't teach me any of that.

Leigh said...

Rain, it's hard to completely let go of that washer and dryer! lol. Especially when the weather is miserable or freezing cold. The only other thing I'd like to get is one of those huge wooden drying racks to set up in front of the heat stove. That would help, especially since it seems hard for things to dry well on the line during cold weather.

Jo, lol. Great story. We truly live in a different world, don't we? A more practical world, actually. I'm quite sure you were the one teaching a thing or two. :)

Lady Locust said...

Um, is being rather envious of a laundry tub still a sin? (Grin) I love the thought put into it, from the water supply to the water "disposal." Both practical and looks great!

Caddie said...

Tried downloading that laundry information from US archives but not the first word of 60 pages showed up. Maybe the problem is with my computer. I admire your efforts at your homestead. I grew up with the situation but too old to do much of this now-a-days.

Kev Alviti said...

Sorry, not a TV show, I watch it instead of TV!

Mama Pea said...

Living in the climate you do makes something like your outdoor laundry (and someday kitchen) not only practical but so desirable! Rather than the washboard for scrubbing your laundry, have you ever considered a James Washer? I used (and loved!) ours for many years before we had running water and/or electricity. It's stored away now, but I'd never give it up. It's my back-up should I ever need it.

Leigh said...

Lady Locust, you just need to get one of your own! Given our tendency to have hot dry spells in summer, we think a lot about water and how to use it wisely.

Caddie, I'm sorry you had a problem! I'm not sure why, though. I rechecked the link and it seems to be okay. The title page isn't until page 5 or 6, so the first pages are blanks, but it shouldn't be that many. I'm not sure if there's another option for it, but it might be worth a search.

Kev, gotcha! We watch web videos instead of TV too. :)

Mama Pea, for the longest time I wanted a James Washer. When I first started looking at them they were about $600; now I think the Lehman's version is close to $1000 with the wringer. So this setup was my second choice. We bought the pieces at different times to spread out the cost, and I think it probably came to under $400 all together. I do like having two tubs. One for soaking and washing, one for rinsing. Then the rinse water becomes the wash water if there's a second load. I still like the James, but I've no complaints. :)

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Hi Leigh, What a great outdoor laundry area. I have thought I would like one of those little outfits from Lehman's to wash just a coupe of things separately outdoors in the summer. It would be nothing like the set up you have. Where we live now we aren't allowed to hang laundry out I think. Too many rules but this is where I have to blossom! Nancy

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Looks great Leigh. Will be interested to hear how the first use goes.

Sharon in Surrey said...

I'll take the outdoor kitchen but you wouldn't get me using a contraption like that even in the summer for laundry!! Just give me an extra solar panel & my old wringer washer instead. It gets the worst filthy work clothes clean all on its own & I intend to continue that way. I don't mind going back to the farm but outhouses & wash boards are too far back!

Leigh said...

Nancy, sad but true, you have to abide by the rules when neighborhoods insist on having them. Not sure what folks have against clotheslines, but that seems to be a common restriction. Whatever happened to going green???

TB, thanks! I don't recall your mentioning how Seneca does his laundry.

Sharon, lol! Dan and I have never considered an outhouse (been there, done that) but we have talked about an outdoor composting toilet! Actually, your mention of the wringer washer on solar is a good one. Now that we're getting a few panels of our own set up, that might be an option when it's too cold to do anything outside. Those old electric washers come up for sale every now and then. I know I certainly don't want a high-speed fancy modern job if my 30-year-old machine ever bites the dust.

wyomingheart said...

Gracious Leigh! I down loaded that book last night, and I have been reading it steadily ever since. I really have enjoyed the bread making. We are setting up our new three bay barn with a bathroom and kitchenette, for the just in case scenario, which by next year will be solar outfitted and stand alone utility. Love those tubs! I’ll definitely keep my eye out for something like that. We are fortunate that we live in an area where there are a lot of Amish, and auctions of old equipment aplenty. I wanted to share with you my love of a new squash/ pumpkin that I grew this year. They are called, Long Island Cheese Pumpkins. It’s an old heirloom variety and looks like a wheel of cheese. I didn’t have a picture of them on the package, as I bought the seeds at a bulk store. I didn’t realize that they would be a different color, so I kept waiting for them to turn orange...lol. They are tan color like a butternut squash. Anyway, they are deep orange in the middle and moderately sweet, and they make the most delicious pies! They also are good for long term storage. Just thought I’d share. I’m excited for updates on that outdoor kitchen. Great post!

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, it's interesting, isn't it? Did you look at the videos? Lots of really good information.

I've never tried to grow Long Island Cheese Pumpkins. In general, pumpkins don't seem to do well for me, although I'm always willing to give something new a try!

Hill Top Post said...

I just love what you are doing here! Doing laundry outside surely brings back lots of memories when I helped my mom do the washing for our family of five children. Yours is a story I would take to read from beginning to now.

Leigh said...

Hill Top, what a great memory. I have to admit that the life we've chosen is an adventure. One that I don't regret.

Quinn said...

Leigh, I thought of you many times in the past few days! Our power went out during the big storm Wednesday night, and only came back on today at noon. I can't count the times I told myself to stop thinking about the hundred pounds of meat in the freezer, because I had done everything I could and it would either stay frozen for however long the power was out (it's usually only a day or two...not four!) or it would be spoiled, but fretting wasn't going to change the outcome.
I am relieved - and a little bit astonished - to report that I think it all came through alright!

Leigh said...

Quinn, what a relief to not lose all that meat! You're right about fretting, but it's still hard not to do. I'm glad all ended well for you.