How to Wash Clothes Without a Washer or Dryer

How to wash clothes without a washer or dryer

I recently found myself in a situation without a washer and dryer, but clothes that need to be cleaned. So I had to ask myself, how do I wash clothes without a washer and dryer?

We invited a family friend to move with us while looking for a place with space for the twins and now that our 2 littles has turned into 3 littles it was time to split ways.

Since or 2 friend brought the washer and dryer, we had to part ways with it too.

I searched YouTube, google, Pinterest, Bing, you name it for a solution on how to wash our clothes until we replace them and they all mentioned something that I should use that I don’t have.

I combined all of those techniques into my own that will allow you to wash clothes without a washer and dryer with what you already have at home.

What you will need

  • A bucket, you can even use a trash can that doesn’t have holes, or w laundry basket inside of a tub.
  • Laundry detergent.
  • A place to dry your clothes.

Washing your clothes

1. This is a no brainer, but following formalities you want to begin by seperating your clothes.

2. You want to take whatever you using and fill it with the appropriate water temp and add in your detergent.

I use a small bedroom trash can. I can’t wash more than a few at a time but I find it easier for the actual washing part.

As mentioned earlier, you can use a laundry basket and fill your tub with water with the basket in it, or use a 5 gallon bucket.

You also can just use your tub for large items like bedding or larger loads.

Don’t fill whatever you’re using with more water than you have clothes, it will be harder to get them clean.

You also want to use a small amount of detergent if you are not using your tub to wash in.

3. Soak your clothing for 10-15 minutes for lightly soiled clothing, and 20-30 minutes for heavily soiled clothing.

I know what you’re thinking. With a can you can only wash about 3 or 4 items at a time, you can’t imagine soaking that many times to complete a full load.

You can always soak all of your load at once in the tub, but wash them a few at a time in your bucket or can.

4. Now it’s time to wash. The important part for hand washing clothes is agitation. You want to get those clothes moving and rubbing against each other.

Laundry detergent is designed to lift dirt, while the washer agitates the clothing to get the dirt into the water and off of the clothing.

Since this method is without spending any money, we are going to use God’s greatest gift to mankind, our hands.

I simply punch at the clothes in the can and knead them like dough. This gets the clothing moving pretty well. I knead and punch for about 5 minutes.

5. Once you have finished washing, wring out each piece of clothing and dump or drain the water. Twist, squeeze, and twist some more.

Wringing out the clothing removes any left over dirt and soap from the clothing and mimics the purpose of the spin cycle of a washer.

6. Refill your container with clean water and add your clothing. Agitate your clothing again. This is rinsing your clothes the same way you do your hair to try to remove any left over soap and dirt.

7. After you have agitated your clothing, wring them out again, get rid of the water, and repeat step 6 again as many times as you need to.

Your goal is to keep rinsing until you don’t see anymore soap bubbles or dirt in the water.

If you are washing dark colored clothing be careful not to confuse the dye in the water with dirt, you will find yourself stuck on this step thinking your clothes will never get clean!

8. Wring your clothing one last time. Except this time you want to make sure to get as much water as possible out of your clothing.

If your clothes drip when you hang them there is too much water in your clothing and they will never fully dry (I dried the same shirt for 3 days before realizing this was the problem!).

9. Hang your clothes to dry. If you already have a drying rack, or clothing line, or your dryer works just not your washer than you are in luck.

If you’re like me, and you’re still trying to avoid putting money into the problem, use your shower rod!

I hang my clothing on hangers on my shower rod to dry over night or throughout the day, but I love waking to fully dried clothing.


  • For faster drying for emergency moment lay your clothing item on top of a towel, roll it up and squeeze. Then hang it, and it will dry twice as fast. To completely dry them use a blow dryer!

If you were only interested in my washing version without spending any money and this is a very temporary situation, this is the end of the post for you; if you found it helpful, please share!

If this is a semi-permanent situation for you (longer than a month) then keep reading.

Hand washing stations

I have 2 additional options for my semi-permanent washers. One that’s very inexpensive, and one thats cost efffective for longer use.

DIY washer

This hack allows you to create a simple non electric washer for under $20! The design is similar to a butter churn.

What you will need:

  • 2 5 gallon buckets
  • Plunger
  • Electric drill


  1. Drill holes in the bottom, and on the sides of one of your buckets.
  2. Drill holes throughout your plunger.
  3. Place the bucket with holes inside the bucket without holes and insert the plunger.
  4. Drill a hole through the lid of the 5 gallon bucket.
  5. Place the plunger handle through the lid and close.
  • To wash simply fill it with water and detergent and add your clothes, then plunge away. To rinse you can pull out the top bucket and all of the water will be in the bottom, dump it.
  • Place the bucket with your clothes in it back inside the bottom bucket and actively spin the top bucket to fling out water from your clothes.
  • Dump it, then refill it with clean water and repeat the plunging process. Drain the water and repeat this rinse cycle until your clothes are soap free.

More permanent solution

There are mini washers and dryers, electric and non electric that works great for small housing, housing without connections, saving on energy costs, and convenient.

I hope you enjoyed my post, don’t forget to share, share, share!

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