8 Washing Machine Alternatives for When You're in a Pinch

Updated: | Categories: Appliances, Laundry Room
washing machine alternatives

Washing machine alternatives have saved the day countless times. Whether you have a broken washer, stuck in a hotel and need some fresh clothes quickly, or live in a dorm and have a surprise date, you need a solution fast.

There are many ways to do your laundry without an electric washing machine. Many of them use a lot less water and are simple to use. You can install them wherever you want quite easily and quickly.

That makes some of them a great travel companion too. Their designs are sleek and compact, making them great for off-grid spaces like camping tents, TVs, cabins, and cottages, etc.

These options consume little to no energy and help you keep your clothes clean in just a few minutes. Sometimes, you'll have to pedal the levers to make an impact but that’s pretty much it... just a tiny bit of effort.

8 Washing Machine Alternatives

You don’t need new tools or additional skills to make this work. Here’s a look at some of the alternatives to washing machines.

Use a Bucket

15 gallon round steel tub bucket
Check Price on Amazon

This is the simplest way to do things. Get a bucket, some water, and some detergent. If you have just these basic tools, you can wash your clothes in the bucket and get fresh sheets, underwear, shirts, and trousers free of stains.

It doesn’t matter if the bucket is square or rectangular. Just fill it with some cold or warm water and mix the appropriate amount of detergent. Submerge the clothes into it and scrub them well, even against themselves.

Soak the clothes for about 10 minutes and drain the soapy water afterward. Rinse your clothes with clean water until the soapiness is gone, in the sink, tub, or shower. And that’s it. Hang them to dry or toss them in the dryer if you have access to one. Or look into these clothes wringer alternatives so you'll have one on hand.

Washboard Basin

washboard basin as a washing machine alternative
Check Price on Amazon

This is the next level of handwashing in a bucket. The washboard and basin bucket is a Japanese invention. The bucket-like structure has a rigid, bumpy platform in the middle. It's a nice modern take on the next of the washing machine alternatives, which is how humans used to do their laundry.

You can use it to apply soap on the clothes or while washing to help release the dirt and grime. Wash your clothes just the way you would with a regular bucket and hang them to dry. The ridged surface makes it slightly easier to clean the piece of clothing.

Washboard & Bathtub

a washboard and a bathtub are the perfect alternative to washing machine
Check Price on Amazon

Now, a bathtub isn’t designed for this purpose but don’t you like it when things work out? You can turn the tub into a laundry machine with a nice washboard. Here’s how you do it.

Start by filling the tub with water, soap, and the clothes to be washed. Quickly scrub your clothes using the washtub. The laundry soap tends to leave a slippery film on the surface of the tub so be sure to rinse it afterward. Get your clothes out and hang them to dry. Fast and easy!

Plunger & a Bucket

a plunger can act as an alternative to your broken washing machine if you have a clean bucket and detergent.
Check Price on Amazon

That’s right. We still are talking about cleaning your clothes, not the toilet. A plunger is an extremely useful tool even in this process. Get one of those of a different color or wrap duct tape on one end.

That is a precaution to be sure you don’t confuse it with the toilet plunger, which would be gross and leave your clothes stinking. Now, use the new plunger and a bucket to churn your clothes clean using the method below.

Take a tall bucket that can handle five to seven gallons of water. Fill it up with warm or cool water and add laundry soap to it. Submerge your clothes in it and plunge in an up and down fashion, like you normally would.

Use force to create suction so that all the impurities get out of your clothes. But not so much force that you damage the fabric are gush the water out of the bucket. Drain the soapy water out and rinse your clothes with clean water. Take the clothes out and hang them to dry.

Now, there are a few portable washing machine alternatives in the market. They are much better than conventional washing machines and can be taken along during travel too. They use little detergent, water and energy in comparison. Here are some of those products.

The Laundry POD

The Laundry POD is like a portable but manual washing machine
Check Price on Amazon

The Laundry POD is a great alternative to a washing machine for those who have limited space. It's a non-electric portable machine. It can fit about 9 or 10 pieces of clothing of moderate size. So this works great for delicate items and is easy to operate.

Take your clothes and put them in the basket inside. Pour the detergent evenly over the clothes and add one gallon of water to the pod. Place the top back on the pod and churn your clothes using the handle in a circular way.

Do this for a couple minutes (or more if you have time) and then place the hose into the drain. Turn the nozzle and release the dirty water. Pour another gallon of clean water and churn it for two minutes to rinse the clothes. Drain it again and hang the clothes to dry.

What's nice about these is you don't need to deal with washer and dryer pedestal alternatives. You can store them away when done without any extra thought about it.

The Wonder Wash

The Wonder Wash - portable laundry machine
Check Price on Amazon

This lovely thing looks like R2D2 from Star Wars but it's not high technology. The wonder washer is an air-tight bucket that is secured on the hinges of a well-made contraption. It lets you sloth your clothes with soap and water until they're clean.

This is great if you operate it right which is not difficult. Now, use the suction cups on the leg of the washer and secure it to the floor. Put your dirty clothes in with some laundry detergent. Add the required amount of water to the container and seal the lid.

Use the handle to circle the washer for a couple of minutes. After that, drain the soapy water and place the hose in a sink or drain. To rinse the clothes, repeat the process with clean water. Take your clothes out when done and hang them to dry.

Since you use your hands for a couple of steps in the process it uses a lot less energy. It can wash a five-pound load in about two minutes with 90% less water and detergent, though. It's great for delicates like woolens, knitted dresses, and silks.

Portable Laundry Bag

portable laundry bag for washing clothes
Check Price on Amazon

This is a great solution when you're on the move but need to wash clothes. Portable laundry bags are like an upgrade of the old-school washboard, with the ribs on the inside.

The inside is lined with hundreds of nodes that manufacturers claim are capable of cleaning the dirty pieces of cloth within minutes. Now, you have to work parts of it manually but it’s not all that labor intensive.

And, it doesn't need electricity or batteries, so it's also a life saver when you're in the tightest of pinches. In fact, it's used quite often in camping or when there's a power outage.

The bag itself is very lightweight and is only about five ounces. It can also be used as a regular carrying bag which is phenomenal. So it's portable in the truest sense of the word.

It's the lightest and most compact washing machine alternative in the whole world. It lets you wash whenever and wherever. It's a favorite among those who like packing light and clean.

The dry bag can be opened to the side where there is a valve to release excess air. The exterior of the bag has grip circles. These circles stop the bag from slipping as you activate the internal nodules by rubbing the bag. The bag itself can take about three gallons of water but the optimum volume is one gallon with clothes.

Portable Laundry Washer

portable laundry washer
Check Price on Amazon

There are many portable washers in the market which can replace the washing machine for you. They have a wash load capacity of about 5 pounds. So it’s great for small pieces like undergarments, socks, t-shirts, and towels, too.

All you need to do is add the laundry detergent, water, and set the timer on it. You don’t need any special plumbing parts to get started. Most of them are sized around 13 x 14 x 19 inches.

And because you read patiently till here, here’s a bonus trick with homemade laundry detergent. One cup of washing soda, one cup of borax, and a couple of drops of essential oils or one cup of grated all-natural bar soap.

Mix all of this in a blender, or if you are feeling confident, stir all of it really well. And that’s it. Store this concoction in an airtight container and use it whenever you want.

This, of course, is apart from getting yourself a mobile clothes washer. It's hand operated and uses the technique of pulling and pushing water through your dirty pieces of cloth. You can use it ideally in a five-gallon bucket or a sink or a tub.

Washing Machine Alternatives Save the Day!

Doing laundry by hand is one of the best ways of cleaning fabrics, especially clothes because here’s what those who did it found out.

When you wash with your hands, the fabric pulls less, the color of the clothes is preserved, and because of the gentle manner in which it is done, the integrity of the thread also stays intact.

A lot of these washing machine alternatives don’t require too much space or water or detergent. They also consume very little energy so you will be doing the planet a favor too.

You'll Also Enjoy:

Rick Worst Headshot Rick is a home design consultant and enthusiast, who's life is consumed by all things home and garden. Starting as a hobby, Worst Room has grown into an information and inspiration wheelhouse for professionals and home owners alike. Rick serves as owner and editor for our many content contributors. Learn more about operation here.