Which Powerless Laundry System is Best?

Categories: Tech

I’ve wanted to decide on a powerless laundry option ever since I lived on our stored water for a few days.  But I didn’t want to invest in something, put in in my closet and then just pray and hope it would work when the time came.  I wanted to make sure that whatever I invested in didn’t waste water, didn’t take an enormous amount of time and most important: got my clothes as clean as possible. 

I decided to try an experiment.  I bought / made a few various different options for powerless laundry and compared them all to the electric washer that I use every day.

The Process:

Step #1:  I got five white rags and dirtied them each with some garden soil and ketchup.  I added stain remover (Oxi-Clean) to the left ketchup stain and let the rags sit for about an hour.  Note: I didn’t expect any system to completely get the ketchup out, but purposefully chose something that would leave a stain so I could see which was darkest / lightest etc.

1 (the frontloader) was already in the wash, but looked the same. (-:

Step #2:  I washed each rag using the different systems.  I added 7-10 additional rags to each load to make sure there was equal agitation from other items.  Each load totaled approximately 1.5 lbs of laundry.  I used cold water in all loads since that is likely what I’d be using in an emergency situation.

Step #3:  I rinsed each rag using the system it was washed in.

Step #4:  I dried all rags in my everyday electric dryer to save on time.  I’d obviously be hang drying if I was really using these methods. 


System #1: My Frontloader

  • Water Used including rinse cycle: Around 10 gallons or 6.7 gallons per pound of laundry.  However, I can fit around 20 pounds of laundry in this washer and it will only use 15 gallons of water or 1.3 gallons per pound.  If you have a top loading washer, it may use up to 20-40+ gallons per load.
  • Time:  This cycle (1.5 lb load) took 50 minutes or about 33 minutes per pound.  A large (20 pound) load takes around 70 minutes or about 3.5 minutes per pound.
  • Amount of Detergent Used: About 1 Tablespoons HE detergent or .67 T per pound of laundry.  But even with a large load, I only use 2 T MAX or .1 T per pound.
  • Physical Energy Used:  None.
  • Pros:  I can put the laundry in a walk away.  The rag was clean with this system.  Only I was surprised that the stain with the stain remover was actually more visible than the one with stain remover.  No dirt visible at all.
  • Cons:  Can’t use this option when / if living on stored water.  (-:

System #2: Wonder Wash  (there is a similar less expensive brand at Emergency Essentials)

  • Water Used including rinse cycle: 1 gallon or .67 gallons per pound of laundry.  The max load (4.5 lbs) uses 3 gallons (including rinse) which is still .67 gallons per pound.
  • Time:  10 minutes (2 minute wash, 1 minute rinse) or about 6.6 minutes per pound of laundry.  This would be slightly less for a larger load, but not a lot because most of the time is spent wringing out the clothes.  If washing, rinsing and filling with water all took about the same amount of time, then wringing out clothes would take about 15 minutes for a 4.5 pound load or 19-20 minutes total which is about 4.4 minutes per pound of laundry.

  • Amount of Detergent Used: About .25 T HE detergent or .17 T per pound of laundry.
  • Physical Energy Used:  Not much at all.  This was super easy to spin.
  • Pros:  Doesn’t use a lot of energy or water.  Rag got relatively clean.  Stains were still easily visible, but almost all the dirt was gone.
  • Cons:  Requires hot water.  The hot water creates a suction that is what pushes the water / detergent through the clothes.  When I tried this system with cold water, it did not work well at all.  I did a second run with hot water and it was much, much better
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