Tag Archives: NATURAL DISASTER

10-Reasons-to-Prepare-for-an-Economic-Collapse

10 Reasons to Prepare for an Economic Collapse

It was not that long ago that the country of Greece suffered a devastating collapse of their economy.  At the time, there was a lot of blame game going on but, at the end of the day, it was years of irresponsible and unrestrained spending that took them down.  That, coupled with questionable accounting practices and misstated economic indicators left the Greek citizens befuddled and angry when the reality of a depression hit.

Could the same thing happen here?  Not to be depressing but in going through my own thoughts as I answer the question “What am I least prepared for?”, I realized that it was time for a wake-up call and time to re-evaluate my own preps within the context of an economic collapse.

Looking back at what happened during or our own Great Depression, I have come to realize that an economic collapse, if it were to happen, would have the compound effect of combining all woes we so diligently prepare for into one huge mess – a mess that may take decades to resolve.

I worry about this, because, as prepared as I may be, I find it difficult to wrap my head around a mega collapse that will result in food and water shortages, power outages, civil disobedience, medical anarchy, and worse.

A global economic collapse, unlike a natural disaster which, as tragic as it may be, is a short term event, will change our lives forever.

Time for a Wake-Up Call

Back in 2012, Michael Snyder wrote about the lessons we can learn from the financial melt-down in Greece.

At the time, being a prepper in the United States typically branded you as an nut job.  Now that preparedness has become more mainstream, I feel that we should review those lessons and take another look at the ramifications of an economic collapse.

Here are the 10 lessons along with my own thoughts as they might apply to an economic collapse in 2015 and beyond.

10 Reasons Why We Need to Prepare for an Economic Collapse

Read more here…

This article was written by Gaye Levy from Backdoor Survival

Gaye Levy started Backdoor Survival so that she could share her angst and concern about our deteriorating economy and its impact on ordinary, middle-class folks. She also wanted to become a prepper of the highest order and to share her knowledge as she learned it along the way. On Backdoor Survival you will find survival and preparedness tools and tips for creating a self-reliant lifestyle through thoughtful prepping and optimism.

To read more from Gaye, visit her website, Backdoor Survival. You can also follow Gaye on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest or purchase her eBook, The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage on Amazon.com.

This article was written by Gaye Levy and can be viewed here:

http://www.backdoorsurvival.com/10-reasons-to-prepare-for-an-economic-collapse/

Batteries Not Included: 3 Ways To Cook Food In Any Situation

Campfire-pineconeYou may have enough food stored away to get you through a disaster, but do you have a way to cook it?  I was feeling pretty confident about my supply of food, until the power went out for 2 weeks!  I quickly realized it’s pointless having food if you don’t have a way to cook it (unless you enjoy eating dried pasta and beans).

To truly be a Survival Mom you need to take the next step and figure out a way to cook your food without power.

I’m spoiled, I’ll admit it, I don’t think I’ve gone a day without electricity until a hurricane swept through our town and taught me a lesson I would never forget.

Immediately afterwards, I researched different powerless cooking methods so I would never be in the same predicament again.

There are plenty of options out there, but I noticed many of them can be costly. No need to worry though, because I have you covered!

Not only are these 3 powerless cookers practically free, you can make most of them with the scraps you have just lying around. You’ll be saving a chunk of cash, re-purposing items, and becoming prepared all at the same time.

Try and pick 1 powerless cooker to make, or if you’re feeling extra ambitious… make all 3!

Apple box oven

Apple Box Oven

The apple box Oven uses about 1/2 the charcoal that a Dutch oven uses and gives the same results as baking in a regular oven! A lot of the meals in my food storage need to be baked in an oven, so going without one would be tough! You can bake 3 loaves of bread at the same time, cook your famous casserole, or make anything else your heart desires. Even if you don’t want to make one right now, you can always gather up the supplies and throw them in an apple box. Then if you’re ever without power you’ll have something to do!

Supplies:

  • APPLE BOX
  • HEAVY DUTY FOIL
  • HIGH HEAT FOIL TAPE
  • SPRAY ADHESIVE
  • OVEN BAG
  • BOX CUTTER
  • CANDY THERMOMETER

Fuel Needed:

  • CHARCOALS – about 17 coals to cook for 1 Hour @ 350
  • FOR ONE YEAR – you will need 22 bags of charcoal (16 lbs. each)
  • DON’T FORGET – store extra newspapers & matches to light the charcoal.

Directions:

  • Click HERE for Step-by-Step Instructions

rocket stove close up

Rocket Stove

This is definitely one of my favorites! If you think living without an oven is hard, try living without a stove! I’m constantly using my stove to ground beef, heat-up food, and cook quesadillas! This may not look too impressive, but it only requires a handful of twigs to cook an entire meal. You won’t have to worry about cutting down a forest just to eat if you have one of these. It’s easy to use and most of all, it gets the job done!

Supplies:

  •  10 CAN W/ LID
  • 2 LARGE 28oz CANS
  • INSULATION
  • TIN SNIPS
  • HEAVY-DUTY GLOVES
  • MARKER

Fuel Needed:

  • TWIGS – A handful of twigs will cook an entire meal!
  • FOR ONE YEAR – Store a pile of wood that you can chop pieces off of to use in the stove.
  • DON’T FORGET – Make sure to save your dryer lint to help fuel the fire, and store plenty of matches.

Directions:

  • Click HERE for Step-by-Step Instructions

the wonder oven

Wonder Oven

This oven truly is wonderful! It’s like a crock-pot but without a cord attached to the wall. It’s even better too, because while it keeps hot things hot, it also keeps cold things cold! Ice cream will stay frozen inside for over 4 hours, meaning you no longer have to run everyone off the road when coming home from the store!

To cook in it, you’ll first need to boil your food for about 10 minutes and then immediately place your pot inside the wonder oven. It will continue to cook and keep your food warm until you’re ready to eat! I told you it is wonderful!

Supplies:

  • FABRIC
  • PATTERN
  • SEWING SUPPLIES
  • DRYER SHEETS
  • BUCKET/GALLON CONTAINER
  • FUNNEL
  • FILLER

Fuel Needed:

  • NONE!
  • DON’T FORGET – When cooking you’ll need to get your food boiling for about 10 minutes before placing it into the wonder oven. A rocket stove is a great option to use to help get the food boiling, so make sure to store some extra wood.

Directions:

  • Click HERE for Step-by-Step Instructions

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

No need to wait for the power to go out to start enjoying your home-made powerless cookers. I’ve started taking the rocket stove on camping trips and even use my wonder oven to cook food on the way to visit Grandma.

Remember; just try making at least 1 powerless cooker! You never know when you might need to put your skills to the test, so don’t wait too long to start collecting your scraps!

Believe me; no one enjoys eating dried pasta, not even the dog!

View the original article on SurvivalMom.com

By  on September 13, 2013

This article can also be viewed at Survival Life

The Basics of Ham Radio

George-Ure-Ham-Radio-SetupToday I continue the conversation with George Ure of Urban Survival as he shares  his thoughts on the value of getting a ham radio license as well as an explanation of some ham radio basics for those of us that are just getting started with this mode of emergency commination.

But first, what exactly is ham radio?  According to Wikipedia:

Amateur radio (also called ham radio) is the use of designated radio frequency spectra for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication. The term “amateur” is used to specify persons interested in radio technique solely with a personal aim and without direct pecuniary interest, and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).

Someone who operates a ham radio is called a “ham” and is licensed to operate communications equipment over the public airwaves. All hams must have a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles, and pass an examination for the FCC license to operate on radio frequencies known as the “Amateur Bands.” These bands are radio frequencies reserved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use by hams.

That, in very general terms, covers the basics.  Beyond that, I have asked George some questions  about  the most important things that a non-ham needs to know about the amateur radio hobby.

Below, with his usual wit and humor, are his answers.

Revisiting the Magic of Radio – Part 2

George, tell me a little about the public safety aspects of ham radio

The most important thing is that ham radio is an incredibly robust means of communications which works in spite of all kinds of emergency conditions. When there’s a hurricane or other public emergency, ham radio is on the front line through organizations like the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES)   When bad weather is about, they provide crucial “eyes on” to Skywarn.org which is a public weather-gathering effort of the National Weather Service.

Lots of ham radio clubs down here in “tornado alley” activate local ham nets to track severe weather and provide nearly instant on-scene reports to the Weather Service on things like precip rates, size of hail, and other useful information.

In the event of flooding or major population displacements, like during hurricanes a few years back, hams were helping route people to least crowded shelters, and things like that.

How does it work? I mean, where can ham radio “talk”?

Well, the range of ham radio equipment depends on what frequency you want to use and the FCC has a wide range of radio spectrum set aside for ham radio use because so much of what we now take for granted was actually developed by hams.

The easiest way to explain this is to think of the radio spectrum like a long measuring tape. The low frequency end of things would be the AM radio band which would be between ½-inch and 1.7-inches on the tape. Way up the tape, you’d find the FM radio band beginning at 88-inches and going up to about 108-inches.

In reality, instead of “inches” what we’re really talking about here is the frequency in Megahertz (millions of cycles per second of alternating current). But the measuring tape analogy is very useful to visualize easily how radio waves work.

The part of the “measuring tape” between about ½ -inch and 30-inches is “special” because it reflects off the ionosphere depending on what time of day or night it is. Above about 30-inches or so, at a frequency that varies called the maximum useable frequency, radio waves stop bouncing and become mostly line of sight. There are some exceptions such as ducted propagation, and when sunspots are just right, up to 60-inches can reflect. Remember: inches means Megahertz or MHz.

The area from 3 inches/MHz up to 30-inches (MHz) is called the High Frequency spectrum and from 30 up to 300-inches (MHz) is the VHF spectrum. Above that you get into ultra-high frequency spectrum. As you’ve probably guessed, this is where the terms HF, VHF and UHF come from. The best “beginner” band is the 2-meter band up at 144 MHZ (or inches if you’re thinking of that measuring tape).

Fine…but what could I actually do with a ham radio?

Well, one thing you can do is cut down your cell phone to almost nothing. If you have even a very inexpensive “starter” VHF/UHF portable unit, such as the Wouxun KG-UV6D series radio which you can get for under $130, you could talk to SurvivalHubby (if he also had a radio) while he was 50 or even 100-miles away.

You can’t quite do away with your cell, though. There are restrictions on using a ham radio repeater to actually conduct business. You can call a doctor or dentist, though, or order food to go, but you can’t use ham radio for your employer or in the course of regular business.

When there was a 6.8 Seattle earthquake in February of 2001, I was able to know where all the disruptions were to traffic flow because I had a VHF radio in the car and with all phone lines jammed including cell, I was still able to communicate and keep in touch with family and friends.

Plus, since I was able to here what was going on in Bremerton, I had a good idea of what the TV news choppers would be showing that night on the news…

Hold it!  You said above 30 MHZ, or so, radio waves became mostly line-of-sight…how do I talk to SurvivalHubby on a ham radio from the San Juan Islands to Seattle?

This is the really cool part of VHF ham radio: Ham clubs have sponsored what are called “repeaters” that are on top of many tall buildings, mountains, and so forth. It’s a very sophisticated network and in some instances, these high elevation repeaters can be linked. Or, as another network, you can go from a repeater to the internet using voice over IP and then pop out of another repeater. So from up in the San Juan Islands you might be able to talk to someone in eastern Oregon.

The Seattle Mike and Key Club has a Puget Sound repeater list over here, but they are all over the country and if you want the definitive source, pick up the ARRL’s definitivenational Repeater Directory which has about everything imaginable in it when it comes to repeaters.

And the American Radio Relay League, which is the largest national ham radio group, has a nice summary of repeater operations and much more over here on their web site.

Hams will move signals around a lot of other creative ways, too. One that I have on my bucket list is doing some 1296 MHz EME (earth-moon-earth) contacts. You point a good-sized dish with a little bit of UHF power and you can use the moon as a passive reflector! Of course there’s also Aurora scatter and meteor-scatter and tropo-scatter, but I got my fill of tropo in my younger days. Meteor-scatter is pretty cool, though. They’re hitting earth all the time since space is not exactly empty.

Is Morse Code still required? I know it used to be.

No, the Morse code requirement went away years ago. In fact, the ham radio licensing is set up now so you can go all the way to the highest class of license – called the Extra Class – without having to learn a single “dit” or “dah” of Morse.

On the other hand, you will find some of those Extra Class questions challenging because there is so much you can do with ham radio.

Like what?

I happen to personally enjoy four or five aspects of the hobby a lot and when I explain what they are, you’ll see what I mean about a wide spectrum of technical knowledge.

I happen to like Morse Code myself because it’s an important “other language”. If I ever had a stroke, for example, or were incapacitated and unable to speak, I could still communicate by tapping a finger or toe. I didn’t used to think about that but as 65 comes closer, those kinds of thoughts do come up.

The second thing I like to do is built and use my own equipment. So, for example, I get a great kick out of using a low power Morse transceiver I built to communicate with Europe, the Middle East, and Asia on the 20 meter/ 14MHz (inch, right?) band. Using very low power (all of 4 watts) I can communicate all over the world and to me that is a really neat skill….like fishing, but with radio waves.

Third thing I like to do is talk to my son, who is also an Extra Class ham, who lives in Kirkland, Washington. We often hook up on voice (single sideband) on 14.160 MHz.

Fourth? Well, I enjoy both the digital modes and slow scan television. As a result of hooking my radio up through an interface to my computer, I can move pictures around the country without using the internet or a phone line! You can hear the sounds often on 14.230 MHz and it’s a warbling noise.

If you just want to have a kind of “personal teletype” you can use a mode called PSK-31 which for long distances if often found between 14.070 and 14.080 MHz. It’s like internet chat, except there’s no internet involved. You just text back and forth. I’ve talked to all kinds of people that way, in places like Guatemala, Cuba, most everywhere in Europe, Russia, Japan, and so on.

Number Five? Elaine and I use ham radio to keep in touch when I run to town and we use 2-meters here on the ranch all the time. It’s not smart to be out in the brush, a block or three from the nearest human where there are wild pigs, snakes, and occasionally packs of wild dogs (don’t start me on irresponsible pet owners!). With a two-meter radio I can always get help if I need it…so in a very personal way, ham radio is something we use all the time.

How hard is the test to get a Ham License?

It’s not hard at all. Like any new skill, it will take a day or two, but my son has taught a number of classes and reports the pass rate is something like 95% if someone just takes time to read some study materials and goes through about six hours of class which can be found free almost anywhere in the country.

A great starting point is to download and read Dan Romanchik’s “The No-Nonsense, Technician Class License Study Guide” which is available for free on the KB6NU website here.

Then visit the ARRL website and search for a class near you because that’s the easiest way to get hooked up to take the test after going through the classroom part. Some classes are one day, others get into more details and are two days or longer. Some people want to know everything while others just want to get a book and take a test. That’s all according to your personal learning style and how you want to approach it.

I understand you’ve been a ham since 1963…so in that time what are the kinds of things that stick out in your mind as “high points” of the hobby?

Oh, gosh, there are so many I’ve never stopped to think about it. Helping my late neighbor (W7IMF) run phone patch traffic for 1964 Alaska Good Friday Earthquake victims was a standout. Doing a live new interview via ham radio with a DC-10 flying through the zone of totality of a total eclipse over central Oregon, would certainly be up there, too.

A lot of people who you might not think about as being ham radio operators are neat to meet: I’ve talked to Barry Goldwater, the US base at McMurdo Sound in the Antarctic, late Jordanian president King Hussein, and scads of others.

I mean starting back with the founding of the ARRL, Hiram Percy Maxim, W1AW invented the silencer for firearms and one of the early electric vehicles…hams do tend to live about 10-minutes (or longer) in the future.

Linux Kernel developer Ted Ts’o is a ham, so was Bob Moog of synthesizer fame. Maybe you knew late-night radio guru Art Bell is a ham, but how about Walter Cronkite? Former CBS News president Bill Leonard… Or John Sculley of Apple who used to be active and Steve the Woz, too… and in aerospace you’ve got Dick Rutan and General Curtis Lemay…so I don’t know how you top that except to say every shuttle mission had at least one ham astronaut onboard – it was required.

Lots of musicians, too: Ronnie Milsap, Chet Atkins, Joe Walsh of the Eagles along with Stu Cook who was the bass player with Credence Clearwater. A little more current? How about Sir Mix A lot…rumor has it. Hell, I didn’t know Gary Shandling or Sheri Bellafonte-Behrens was a ham till I looked at an online directory of famous hams over here.

And I guess that’s the fun of the hobby…you don’t know when you “call CQ” – meaning looking for someone to talk to – who’s going to come back to you. It could be someone famous, or it could be a lonely trucker driving across the Dakotas, or a DX-pedition to some rare island out in the middle or nowhere, to a robotics specialist in Japan who’s into the hobby.

It’s just a heck of a lot of fun…and that’s why some of us do ham radio types would rather talk, text, or code instead of vegging out watching so much TV.

The Final Word

This is a lot of information to absorb but good information.  As George tells me, if you are looking for an interesting hobby with a prepping angle to it, start with shortwave listening and then move on to ham radio.  The way he tells it, it sounds a lot easier than I originally thought.

Now all I need to do is get started.  What about you?  Do you have some ham radio tips to share with a ham radio newbie like me?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

Note: This is Part 2 of a two part series.  For Part 1, go to Shortwave Radio For Preppers.

If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Backdoor Survival on Facebook to be updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or link to a free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.  You can also follow Backdoor Survival on Pinterest.

In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

This article was written by Gaye Levy from Backdoor Survival and can be viewed here.

9 Simple Ways for Preppers to Be a Good Neighbor

hLike family, you can not always pick your neighbors and again, like family, you may not even like them.

But that does not mean you should not nod a hello from time to time.

After all, this very same neighbor may be the one to call the cops when he sees a prowler or the fire department when he sees unusual smoke coming from your home.

That said, it does not mean that you need to become friends or invite them for dinner.

Just a friendly hello from the front porch or parking lot may be all that it takes to have an extra set of eyes watching your back.

Today I would like to share nine ideas that will help you get to know your neighbors and also how to become (or stay) a good neighbor.

As you read through them, you will realize that most are really just good, common sense.

If you are like me though, you sometimes need to be reminded that simple things done in the short term can pay huge dividends in the long term.

Being a good neighbor is one of those things.

9 SIMPLE WAYS TO BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR:

1. Welcome newbies to the neighborhood

When I was first married and moved into my first real house, a neighbor came by with a plate of brownies. I put on a pot of coffee and we chatted a bit and exchanged phone numbers.  Two things happened.  One, I became a friendly and familiar face in the hood, so to speak, and two, I had a number of someone close by to call in an emergency.

In this case, we never became friends in the traditional sense but we knew each other well enough to say hello when we were out working in our yards and of course, were able to know who and recognize who belonged next door and who did not.

Welcoming newbies to the neighborhood can be as simple and easy as taking over a bunch of flowers or baking up that batch of proverbial brownies or chocolate chip cookies.

2.  Lend a hand

Have you ever seen a neighbor struggle with a big pile of leaves or a mound of dirt?  Or perhaps you catch the neighbor trying to bring bags of groceries indoors while the little kiddos are running around as kids ten to do.  Think about politely offering to help out.  Just remember, though, if they say no, accept that.  They will still remember your kindness and may reciprocate down the road sometime.

3.  Set boundaries

No one like a nosy neighbor.  Just like you would prefer not to disclose the details or in-home location of your prepping activities and supplies, remember that you too must be respectful of your neighbors privacy and private matters.  Keep your goal in mind.  That goal is to have someone watch your back and to help you out if a disaster strikes and you are in worse shape than they are.

4.  Keep it quiet

I can not imagine Backdoor Survival readers being a rowdy bunch but you never know.  Cut the noise and loud music at 10PM and don’t start up again until 8 or 9 in the morning. Also, if you plan to have a shouting match with your partner, do it indoors with the windows closed.  ‘Nuff said.

5.  Keep it clean

Part of being a good neighbor means keeping the visible part of your home neat and tidy.  Keep the lawn mowed and the bushes trimmed.  Which reminds me: keeping the shrubs and bushes around your windows and doors well-trimmed will mitigate bad guys using them as hiding places prior to breaking and entering.

Also pick up any junk that may be lying around. This includes discarded planters, garbage (really!) and cardboard boxes that belong in recycle and not on your front porch.  Somewhat related is this:  make sure you pick up any dog poo that little Fido drops around the neighborhood on his walks.

6. Do not judge

Most of us keep our prepping activities to ourselves for fear of being labeled a crazy nut job.  For many, even our own families know little about our activities.  Likewise, park any judgmental attitudes about your neighbor at the door.  As difficult as it may be sometimes, your business is your business and his business is his.  There may be family or financial issues going on with your neighbor that you may not know of and further, you may not need to know.

Give it a rest and do your best not to judge.

7. Nip little problems in the bud

As with all things in life, nip little problems in the bud.  Number 4 was “Keep it quiet”.  If your neighbor has loud, pulsating music blasting at 1AM, you may want give him a call and ask him to turn it down.  Because alcohol may be involved, I would not recommend marching up to his door and demanding that things quite down.

A better alternative is to wait until the next day and explain that the noise kept you awake and that next time, could they turn the music down a bit earlier?

The same things applies with a lawn that has not been mowed in weeks and is knee high in weeds.  This is a problem in the prowlers may hang around, thinking the place is uninhabited.  Check on your neighbor to make sure he is okay (you know, not sick or anything) and see if you can lend him an hour or your time to help him get things cleaned up.

Always remember, too, that it is a lot more difficult for someone to continue with their disturbing behavior if you have met them face to face (remember those brownies?) and shared a friendly “hello” now and then.

8.  Never confront neighbors in anger or threaten

Never ever confront a neighbor in a state of anger. And most certainly do not threaten.  This always applies, but it’s even more important if you haven’t already established a relationship with him or her.  Instead, think it out and come up with a way to discuss the problem without putting your neighbor on the defensive.

Pick a time to talk when you are calm and try to focus less on blame and more on the solution.

9.  If all else fails, call in the authorities

There may come a time when things get out of control. As you are trying to nip little problems in the bud, your neighbor may display violent or irrational behavior.  If you are feeling personally threatened, then by all means call in the authorities and let them know.  The last thing you want is to endanger yourself or your family while simply trying to be a good neighbor.

THE FINAL WORD

Over and over again, I have witnessed communities coming together in times of need.  The recent fire in my own community demonstrated how neighbors helping neighbors can come together to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

Today I want to remind you that being prepared is a lifestyle that involves much more that storing food, preserving water, and learning to use firearms.  Being prepared means having the tools and the where-with-all to face life and all of its hazards and impediments head-on and without hesitation.

Having neighbors you can count on is one of those tools but it all starts, really, with being a good neighbor yourself.

This is an excellent article from Gaye on the benefits of being a good neighbor, but it is only an excerpt.

Click here to view the full article

This post can also be viewed here:  www.survivallife.com

The Dirty Truth About Off Grid Laundry

offgridlaundry

I thought it might be a good exercise to try doing laundry without using the washing machine and dryer.

Whenever there is a hurricane approaching one of the preparation chores that I do (in addition to making sure there is enough water, food and supplies for several days) is to do the laundry while power is available.

Ideally, you’d already have clean clothes available, but what if there is an extended power outage?

I saved a few pieces of clothing, some socks and a large towel to do the experiment.

Washing

MobileWasher

I piled the clothes in the bathroom sink.  For clothes washing, I tried using a  Mobile Washersample that I received..  It was easy to assemble.  The washer looks like a plunger, but without the rubbery plunger smell.

20130601_092108-

The instructions simply say add soap and 4-6 inches of water and agitate the clothes using up and down motion.  I used my homemade laundry detergent added to some water.

20130601_093336

The socks were stained but I did not use bleach, as I wanted to keep the experiment as simple as possible.

Although the Mobile Washer instructions say you will feel a pulling action while the clothes are agitating, I did not really feel that the up and down motion was doing anything.  Perhaps the clothes had to be level to the ground or bathtub for this to work, as using it on a bathroom sink level felt unwieldy to me.  I wish I had a better result to report to you, but I always write the truth in these experiments regardless of expectations.

I contacted Mobile Washer after the experiment about my less than stellar results and got a quick response, which actually addresses what happened:

“The best way to get this action on the clothes is to make sure you have enough water so the clothes float freely, have a deep enough container (sink, bucket, tub etc) so that you can get some good plunging action without splashing the water out of the container.  When these steps are followed, the washer seems to have great results.  I can’t say that you were doing it wrong, maybe it just required a little harder agitation.

This is actually the first negative feedback we have received, so I do appreciate you letting me try to explain how it should work and what results you should be able to expect.  Normally the feedback is that the washer has pulled old stains and residual dirt and soap left behind by traditional washing machines. ”

I think the Directions for Use should mention the container should be deep enough for enough water so the clothes can float around.  The “4-6 inches of water” was quickly soaked up by the clothes.  The next time I wash off-grid, I will use a 5-gallon bucket.

Back to the story…

I resorted to washing the items by hand.  My hands did get all wrinkled and “prune-like” so if I do this again I would wear gloves.

After washing, I let the soapy water drain out.  I then rinsed the clothes with plain water in the sink.  The interesting part was in trying to wring all the water out.  Socks and shirts are easy enough, but the towel was quite heavy.  I had to wring it out in sections.

Drying

I found some space to hang the clothes using hangers and some of the shelving.  Because of the humidity, the socks and shirts took about 12 hours to dry, and the towel took over 24 hours.

Result

20130609_191155

T-shirts and blouses dried well enough with minor wrinkles when hung up in clothes hangers.

The clothes and socks smelled fresh and appeared to be clean enough.  The socks did not come out as white as when bleached and washed in the washing machine.

20130609_191226-

However the towel took a very long time to dry, causing even more humidity with a slightly musty smell when it finally dried.

What I Learned

Living in a humid climate, if clothes stay wet long enough, there is a possibility of getting mildew, so you must try to wring out the clothes as well as possible.

If you live in a dry climate, the drying time would be a lot faster.

Having a clothesline outside would be much better than drying indoors as the hot sun would help dry things faster.  However because we rent, I doubt apartment management would look too kindly to having clothes flapping in the breeze out in the balcony.  So if I had to line dry, I would likely set the line across the bathroom.

Line dried clothes do not come out as soft as they do in the dryer.  On the other hand, this saves on wear and tear on the garments.

To minimize wrinkles, you need to “snap”clothes such as t-shirt and shirts before hanging them.

If you had to do laundry off-grid, you’d best have some backup clothes available to allow for longer drying time.

No doubt about it, washing and drying clothes are chores that would be much more challenging without electricity.   It is doable, and I am glad I tried this experiment.

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Editors Note:  I have done plenty of laundry “off grid” at my grandparents home, I have even on occasion used a washboard at my Great Grandmothers home.  We are so very spoiled now, even though I have done it… It’s not something I fancy doing all the time.

On an interesting side note, the amount of laundry detergent we use is actually much more than is really needed.  I read a story a while back about how you can wash your clothing 2-3 times and the residual soap left over after the rinse cycle is more than enough to clean your unmentionables.

Do you have any tips and tricks for Off Grid Laundry?

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