Hand Washing Clothes (A How-To Guide)

Supplies Needed:

  • 3 5-gallon buckets
  • 2 plungers with holes poked into them
  • Water source (hose or faucet)
  • Detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar 

Why hand-wash our clothes?

  • To take an afternoon to be in solidarity with the 1.3billion people who are without electricity today.
  • To acknowledge that the systems in which our world functions now do not parallel resurrection but rather death. Our trash, energy, and land are largely becoming unclean and not renewable, demonstrating poor stewardship of what God made and called “good.” 
  • To rethink some of the ways we practice day to day living that either add to the beauty or brokenness of the world. 
  • To reduce water & electricity usage. The average household uses 13,500gallons of water a year using a washing machine, and the dryer is one of the top energy suckers in our homes—second only to the fridge. 


  • Fill all three 5-gallon buckets with water. Put a couple of tbsp of detergent in the first bucket, leave plain water in the second bucket, and put 1 cup of distilled vinegar in the third bucket. 
  • Place clothes in first bucket. Agitate with plunger for 100 strokes (about 2 minutes). Ring out. 
  • Place clothes in second bucket, let sit for 2minutes, agitate with plunger for 50 strokes (about 1 minute). 
  • Place clothes in third bucket, agitate with plunger for 50 strokes (about 1 minute), ring out, hang to dry on line with clothes pins. 

While washing, You can discuss…

Some other ways to go green with your laundry: only wash in cold water if using a washing machine (34million tons of carbon dioxide emissions would be saved if every US household used only cold water for washing clothes), wear clothes more than once, make your own detergent that is better for ecosystems or buy local as to lessen fuel used in shipping, if buying detergent use concentrated ones that use less containers and less space and fuel when shipping, wash by hand or create a pedal washer to get a work out, keep your lint collector clean as to lessen drying time, use a laundromat since industrial machines are more eco-friendly than domestic ones.

Other ways to care for creation: don’t preheat the oven, turn lights off that you’re not using, turn water off that you’re not using, use cloth diapers, go vegetarian once a week (since it takes 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef), wrap presents with newspaper, use your own reusable water bottle, use a mug when staying at a coffee shop or take your own thermos when getting to-go, plant a tree, buy local and in-season, carpool, make a list of errands and get them all done for the week in 1 run, spot treat yard weeds with vinegar and water grass early in the morning before any is wasted in evaporation, recycle cell phones (since 130million will go into the landfill this year), use matches instead of lighters (since 1.5billion end up in landfills each year), buy second hand, use reusable grocery bags

Jesus came to show us that there is life before death and life after death. Do our practices (with our chemical ridden trash and vegetables, our plastics that do not break down, our time-saving focuses) demonstrate this same type of hope and renewal? Do they, like the compost say, “Everything—even death— can be repurposed?” Or do they say, “We want what we want when we want it?”

Let us imagine that another world is possible.