A Plunge into Off-grid Solutions Old and New


What did we think of the mop bucket and spinner as a laundry machine? It made it neat and easy to launder single items in a repeatable way for testing. In fact, it was a good deal easier on the hands than wringing. However, you can only spin one item at a time, and as a result it was no faster or drier.

Weve also tested Laundry Alternatives Wonder Wash, a modern take on a hand-crank bucket-spinner that dates back to the previous century (See PS March 2007). We also tested their compact plug-in spinner. We tried variations on placing the laundry in a net bag and walking on it; we often laundered a few things at marina showers by tossing them on the shower floor and marching around on them while showering, followed by a good rinse. It worked, but not a miracle-solution.

We still subscribe to the bucket and plunger school. Let the laundry soak for 30 minutes (hot water helps) and then churn away for 5 minutes. There are many variations.

Lehman’s washing plunger

Were dating ourselves, but we grew up with a wringer washer, and as a budding engineer, one of our first jobs was fixing the thing when it was overloaded by feeding too much at once. The extreme pressure between the rollers reduced the retained water by about 30 percent, making rinsing more efficient and drying faster, but they can also be hard on clothes. All zippers must be closed. Delicate items should be placed inside T-shirts. Buttons must be folded in or they will crack. They still make clamp-on hand wringers (see the Callinger wringer pictured above), both for people that like it old school or have a cabin, and for car wash towels. Theyre not going away.

Laundry Alternatives’ mini spinner and Wonderwash


Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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