Selfcare off the Grid
Everyday things are no longer simple, like bathing and laundry.
The above photo is my washing machine. It is a 12-volt washer with a spinner. It actually works really well, despite being small. I can wash 6 tee-shirts, a few pairs of socks and underwear at one time. I can wash one heavy pair of jeans with a couple of light pairs of boxer shorts. Heavy blankets are a big NO. I can wash throws, so I use a lot of them instead of blankets. If you want to get by with very little power, these are the concessions that you make.
I have a five-gallon bucket that I have outfitted with a brass water faucet. Outside, in warm weather, I can place it on top of my ladder and use it to take a shower. Water will heat inside the bucket from the sun.
I also have a big pot that I can heat water in and fill the bucket. I've got a pulley that allows me to pull the bucket up with a rope. If you have bad shoulders, like I do, or you simply have very little upper body strength to life a bucket that size, the pulley is a great solution and you can get one at Walmart for less than $10.
In the winter time, to be honest, showering and bathing are difficult. My cabin has no plumbing, though it had been on the agenda. Now that it looks like I'll be moving to much bigger acreage in Maine next summer, I'm not going to bother with the plumbing.
What I do in these cold months is heat water in my pot, pour it into a 20-gallon tote that I place in my floor, and I use it like a bathtub that I stand in and wash.
Yes, I splash water and have to sop it up with a towel. Sometimes I spread a tarp out over the floor to make that clean-up easier. I also stock up on wipes. I buy baby wipes and I use them daily for cleaning my face, neck, arms, and taking a 'sponge bath' all over.
Once every month, I try to treat myself by going to the local truck stop and paying for a shower. It costs $12 to take a shower but it is a very nice treat. Endless hot water, massaging shower head, and I get to use their towels.
I have no clean-up either. I only have to bring my change of clothes and the soap I want to use. They actually do supply soap, but it's pretty harsh soap and dries your skin.
In order to do a load of laundry in the above pictured washing machine, I have to carry in a bucket of water - five gallons of it. I pour that into the machine, add my clothing, a little soap, and let it agitate for about fifteen minutes.
Then I move the clothes over to the spinner, spin them out as I drain the water into the same big tote that I use for bathing. While it is spinning and draining, I go out and get another bucket of water and then I repeat the process without soap, in order to rinse everything.
I dump the tote straight out the front door but in the summer it can be dumped on the garden. It's just gray water. I use natural soap so it is safe for the environment.
There you have it. The things that many take for granted require extra planning and physical labor, here on the homestead. I am happy that my solar panels run the fridge and the washer for me. I do need more panels because I often have to unplug the fridge if I am going to do more than one or two loads of laundry. For now, I try to just do one or two at a time.
The next time you take a long hot shower, stop and think about the water you are using and how harmful it is to the environment. When you flush your toilet, you are wasting a lot of water as well. Consider switching to a composting toilet system, or at least use a low-flow toilet.
We need to conserve our water where we can!!