While doing laundry would seem to fall pretty far down the list of priorities after a disaster, it is actually fairly important. Wearing clean clothes is not only hygienic but a great morale boost. But washing clothes without the assistance of a washing machine, or even running water, is labor intensive.
Post-disaster laundry can be done much easier if you plan ahead.
You’ll need a five gallon plastic pail with lid, a plunger, a hacksaw, and a drill for this simple project.
Start by cutting out a small hole in the center of the bucket lid. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to use your drill to make a hole large enough to accommodate the hacksaw blade, then saw around in a circle. The resulting hole should be just large enough for the plunger handle to fit though easily.
Then, drill 5-7 holes in the plunger, like so:
At this point, you are essentially done building your new washing machine. To use, fill the bucket about 1/3 with clothes, then pour in just enough water to cover them. Add a little detergent. Thread the plunger handle through the lid, then snap the lid onto the bucket so the rubber part of the plunger is inside. Agitate the clothes by plunging up and down.
You don’t need to pump that plunger like you’re using a manual railroad car either. Just smooth and steady motions will do the job. Incidentally, this is a great chore for the kids in the house.
How long you need to agitate will depend on just how dirty the clothes are, of course. For lightly soiled clothing, 5 minutes or so might be enough.
Once the clothes are clean, you’ll need to rinse them in another bucket. Then, hang them on the line to dry.
Due to the small size of the bucket, you aren’t going to do a ton clothes at a time, of course. But you should be able to do several pair of socks, some underwear, and a couple shirts at a time.