7 Best Washing Machines for Off-Grid Living or Small Apartments
Washing clothes by hand is tedious. Switch to any of these best off-grid washing machine models, and you can save your back, bid farewell to blisters, and make laundry day feel like less chore! We even found one model that uses less than three gallons of water per load.
7 Best Washing Machine for Off-Grid
With energy-efficient electric models competing against powerful manual machines, it can be overwhelming to decide the best off-grid washing machine for your off-grid life.
To help you with your shopping decision, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best off-grid manual washing machines out there based on price, efficiency, and of course, how easy they are to use.
We found seven models for you to choose from, so there will be one that’s perfect for your off-grid homestead, tiny home, or a green pre-built kit home.
Here’s a quick chart for you to see all your choices.
Still unsure which off-grid washing machine is the best for you? Continue reading for everything you need to know about each product on our list.
After a long day working on the homestead, the last thing you want to do is hand wash your dirty clothes. But now you don’t have to. The Magic Chef White MCSTCW09W1 is an energy-efficient electric washing machine that you can run on solar energy. It only uses 23kwh per year.
This solar-powered washing machine can change your life!
Think about all the hours you currently spend laboriously scrubbing your clothes clean. But once you have the Magic Chef Compact Washer, you can spend those hours relaxing, watching Netflix.
Just hook up the Magic Chef to your sink to fill it with water, choose from one of five different washing modes, and let it cycle. Then, you can drain the water into either your sink or a standpipe like a traditional washer.
What’s really amazing is how little space you need to run the Magic Chef. This washing machine will fit in an RV, tiny house, or apartment with no problem. (I had one when I lived on a school bus!) It’s small and light enough to move in and out of storage.
While you won’t be able to throw your king-size comforter into this compact washer, this portable washing machine still manages to hold a fair amount of clothing. You can wash t-shirts, shorts, and socks with no problem.
With all this and more, it is no wonder the Magic Chef is our top pick for the best off-grid washing machine.
If you are looking for a high-tech manual washing machine, check out the Yiergo Drumi Washing Machine. It uses foot power – simply pump a pedal with your foot to wash your clothes!
Your foot action spins the inside drum up to 600 RPMs. That rapid spinning gets your clothes clean in minutes. And all that foot pumping helps you get in shape, so now you can skip the gym!
The Drumi isn’t so roomy on the inside, so you may find you have to do more than one load to clean all your clothes. It’s perfect for small loads and delicates.
The Drumi is expensive for a manual washer. And you may have to wait to receive it. The Drumi has been so popular that it can take some time for the product to arrive. But, we’re confident you’ll find that this innovative foot-powered washer is worth the wait.
While not truly a washing machine, EasyGoProducts Washing Wand is a great budget-friendly manual washer to help cut down on the time and elbow grease needed to get your laundry clean.
Here’s how it works.
This toilet-plunger-like washing wand has grills on its end that pushes and pulls the water through your clothes. Of course, since this is a manual washer, you’ll have to provide the motion.
But don’t worry. There’s no learning curve. It is literally like plunging a toilet.
All you need is to push and pull the wand up and down in the bucket. You’ll be amazed (and probably a little disgusted) how much dirt this wand can remove from your clothes – you’ll know it’s working when the water starts to get murky!
You can repeat the process until the water in the bucket is free from soap and dirt.
Does the Washing Wand take a bit of work? Absolutely. But once you see how well it cleans your clothes, you’ll never want to wash them another way again.
The Lavario Portable Clothes Washer shares the same cleaning principle as the Washing Wand. But, this off-grid washing machine is a little bit more high-tech.
The Lavario has a specially designed outer container and a basket for your clothes. The outer bucket holds up to ten gallons of detergent and water mix (you can use hot soapy water up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, by the way).
Then, you place the basket filled with your dirty laundry into the outer container. Similar to the Wash Wand, you’ll have to move the basket up and down to activate the patented “power flow technology.”
Gravity helps on the downstroke, and the natural buoyancy of your clothes helps the basket rise again. Plus, there is a convenient drain at the bottom of the bucket, saving you from using several buckets to rinse your laundry.
Load capacity: 5 lbs
- Access location: Top load
- Power source: Hand-powered
- Operating time: 2 minutes
The Laundry Alternative Wonderwash Washing Machine comes in a cute retro design and has a small footprint. But, of course, this best washing machine for off-grid living is more than looks.
Similar to the Drumi, the Lavario uses a crank to spin your clothes clean. But whereas the Drumi is foot-powered, the Lavario has a hand crank.
So, how does it work?
First, load the drum with your dirty laundry, detergent, and clean water. When it’s ready, snap on the lid and turn it with a clockwise motion to seal it. You want to take the time to make sure you have a good seal because you are going to spin the machine, and the last thing you want is a flood on your hands.
Now get ready to spin. The unit does come with suction cups on its feet as well to help keep it steady. You only need to crank the machine for a minute or two for them to be fresh and clean. Like the other machines, you will want to do a rinse cycle as well.
Keep in mind, while this machine spins, you can’t use it to spin-dry your clothes. You will want to wring them out after they come out of the machine. Then hang them to dry in the sun.
There you have it—clean clothes in minutes, with just a few cranks of the machine. SO much easier than the old washboard.
Not too long ago, the Laundry POD Non-Electric Washing Device took the world by storm, winning awards for innovative green design. And it’s easy to see why. Invented by a mother of teenagers, the Laundry POD helps cut down on time and save water!
If you know how a salad spinner works, that’s precisely how the Laundry POD can clean your dirty clothes – it’s just a big salad spinner for your clothes. But while it’s giant compared to your kitchen spinner, it’s smaller than your standard washing machine.
The POD is great for small loads in between larger washes or to get your delicates clean. The small loads mean you use less water- as little as 3 gallons per load compared to as many as 40 gallons with a traditional machine. That’s a lot of water savings!
It’s easy to use with a convenient crank on top and drain at the bottom. And did I mention it is quick? Just crank it a few times to clean your clothes, a few more to rinse, and then a few final spins to help get your clothes dry. It’s that easy. If you can use a salad spinner, you can use the Laundry POD.
Load capacity: 11 lbs (washer), 6.6 lbs (spin tub)
- Access location: Top load
- Power source: Electricity – 300W (wash), 110W (spin)
- Operating time: 15min (washer), 5min (spin)
Wash and dry- the Giantex Portable Mini Compact Twin Tub Washing Machine does just about everything except fold your clothes.
This electric-powered washing machine features a separate tub to spin your clothes dry – no more lugging sopping wet clothes to a place where you can wring them all to dry!
Not only does this machine save time, but it saves space as well. The twin tub machine is small and light enough to store it out of the way when you aren’t using it. When it’s laundry day, you can bring the machine wherever your water and power are.
Moreover, you can choose from 15-minute increments, depending on how dirty your laundry is. Once your clothes are clean, you transfer them to the spin tub. So you know, the spin tub is half the size of the washtub, so you do have to double the number of spin loads as wash loads.
But does that matter? Think about how much less work it is to move the clothes from one side of the machine to the other. Who cares if you have to do it a few more times. The spin cycle runs 5 minutes at a time, so you can decide how dry you want your clothes to be.
If you’re looking for the best off-grid clothes washer and drier to add a little luxury to your homestead, the Giantex has you covered.
4 Things to Consider When Buying the Best Off-Grid Clothes Washer
Like when you are looking for the best off-grid refrigerators, finding the best off-grid washing machine requires considering many factors to have a model best for your off-grid home.
Power, of course, is going to be a factor, but there is more to a solar washing machine than how much energy it uses. Water consumption, size and capacity, and installation requirements should all be considered as well.
So let’s look at these more closely.
1. Power Requirements
Power is always a consideration on an off-grid homestead. Whether you have solar or wind, washing machines can be a huge load on your battery bank. If you have a decent-sized system, then you can probably run an electric washing machine if you do so during daylight hours (1).
Check out this video to see an electric washing machine hooked up to a solar setup:
“To calculate how much solar power do electric appliances need, check the consumption of an appliance over a period using a power consumption table or the power usage monitor. You multiply the power consumption by the hours of intended use.”
If you are concerned about over-taxing your system after doing your power calculation, don’t worry. There are many manual options out there that help cut down on the labor of hand washing all your clothes. Some manual machines have hand cranks, others foot pumps, but in the end, they’re all powered the same way- by YOU!
When buying a manual clothes washer, think about what part of your body you want to exercise. Do you want to spin or stomp? That can help narrow down your choice.
But don’t worry – you don’t have to work too hard. Modern design means you use less elbow grease than you do with traditional hand washing.
2. Water Requirements
A traditional washing machine uses between 25 to 40 gallons of water PER LOAD! (3) Using a compact or manual washing machine can significantly decrease the amount of water (and laundry detergent) you are using. But some of these washing machines use very little water. And I mean very little.
The exact amount of water will depend on the size of the load you are doing.
The LaundryPOD, for example, uses less than 3 gallons of water. That’s right, 3 gallons compared to 40 gallons in a traditional washing machine. While the size and capacity of these off-grid washing machines are smaller (we’ll talk about that in a minute), it is still huge on water savings.
3. Size and Capacity
When it comes to manual and off-grid washing machines, they are more compact and hold less than a standard electric machine.
These machines are suitable for doing small loads, but you can’t put a week’s worth of laundry or a comforter in them. By comparing the load sizes, you’ll have a better idea of how much laundry you can do (4).
“As a rule of thumb, 12 pounds of laundry is appropriate for a standard top-load machine. A front-load washer can accommodate as much as 15 to 18 pounds of clothing. An extra-large front load machine can wash 20 to 22 pounds of laundry in one cycle.”
As you can see, compact models hold fewer clothes. But don’t be discouraged by the small load size. You can wash each load quickly, so it doesn’t take a long time to get your laundry clean.
And these small machines don’t take up much room at all. They are the perfect solution for a tiny home. Heck, the smallest option out there, the EasyGo Products Washing Wand, fits into an 8″ X8″ X8″ box.
Most of these washing machines don’t have complex installation but may require some assembly out of the box. Even the electric washing machines we reviewed don’t need complicated plumbing – you can fill it with water using a hose.
For example, many people opt to move the Giantex washing machine right into the tub when it is time to do laundry. That way, the water can be added and drained quickly.
You will need solar panels and an inverter to run a solar washing machine. The solar panels generate the power, and the inverter converts the current from DC to AC.
However, this setup will only work if you are doing your laundry when it is sunny outside. If you want to run your washing machine even if there is no sun, you will need batteries and a charge controller.
You can dry clothes without a spin cycle by manually wring the clothes to dry. If you don’t want to do it by hand, then you can buy a clothes wringer. It will help press the water out of your clothes. After removing some of the water, you can then hang the clothes in the sun to dry.
Yes, washing machines can be left outside, but it is not ideal. However, if you are tired of lugging your compact washing machine inside and out, you can safely leave it outside. You will want to cover it to protect it from the elements.
- Making the most of your solar panels. Retrieved from: https://www.cse.org.uk/advice/renewable-energy/making-the-most-of-your-solar-panels
- How Much Solar Power Will I Need? Retrieved From: https://www.sunpowersource.com/how-much-solar-power-do-electric-appliances-need/
- How Much Water Do You Use At Home? Retrieved from: https://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-percapita.php
- Laundry 101: Washing Machine Capacity and Load Size Guide. Retrieved from- https://kellysdrycleaners.com/blog/laundry-101-washing-machine-capacity-and-load-size-guide/
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.