Posts tagged ‘Primitive homestead’

Homesteading: How We Do It

People often ask, so here is a short rundown of how things work here at Twin Lamps Farmstead.


Laundry on The Homestead

If you’re planning the move to your homestead property, one of the many things you’ve undoubtedly thought about is laundry. Depending on how primitive your accommodations are, there are a few options.


The first is the most primitive: a washboard and tub. Most people are familiar with these, having seen them in old movies and on TV shows. The first tub contains soapy water. You would scrub the clothes against the washboard, then run them through the wringer into the other tub, which is full of clean rinse water. You can rinse them using another washboard if you like. Some recommend two tubs for rinsing. You then wring the clothes again and hang them on a clothesline or over a drying rack. To get rid of the wastewater, no plumbing needed. You simply dump it out in your greywater area.

This is the most basic laundry setup, requiring no electricity or plumbing and the most labor. You can certainly use a washboard and tub setup – it’ll work just fine – but you may want something a little less labor-intensive.


This is a wringer washer. It’s identical to the one I have in my home. We will be taking it to the homestead with us. I absolutely love it and will never use a “regular” washing machine again, regardless of where I live. It works similarly to the washboard and tub method, except the most labor-intensive part (the scrubbing) has been eliminated. It’s electric, but uses much less electricity and water than a modern washing machine.

To use it, first you fill the tub with about 15 gallons of water. You can use a bucket to do this or run a hose from a faucet directly in to the machine’s tub. (On the homestead, we will be using a wood stove with a hot water reservoir. It has a hose.) Next, you turn on the machine so that the agitator starts moving and add the detergent. Once it’s nice and soapy, you just add clothes and put the lid back on. You run it as long as you need depending on the load and amount of soiling (versus no real control with regular washing machines), then you wring, rinse, wring again and hang. To empty the water, there is a hose on the side of the machine. Some have a pump and others simply work from gravity. (Mine has no pump, but it empties in less than 5 minutes, so I don’t miss it.) This hose could be plumbed into a pipe that pipes it to your garden (as ours will be) or another drainage area. For now, I simply lay the hose in the shower and the water goes down the drain. If you’re going to use greywater to irrigate your garden, you’ll need to use more natural detergents.

These machines are very quiet and very efficient. The thing I like the most about them is that you can wash multiple large loads of clothes using the same water and they will all still be perfectly clean (start with whites and the least-soiled clothing).

You can of course use a standard washer and dryer on your homestead if you have electricity and plumbing. However, they certainly use far more electricity and water than the two options mentioned above, especially the dryer. When you get right down to it, a dryer is really only for convenience. A clothesline or drying rack in front of a wood stove works just fine. Some people don’t like the texture of clothes that have been dried on the line, but a little bit of vinegar in the rinse water softens clothes very well, ensures there are no leftover odors and does not leave a vinegar smell.

Perhaps the most important thing to many of us who dream of a homestead is cutting back on convenience and getting back to basics. The washing machine in my home has one button and one lever. I like that – a lot.

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