Last Update: 5/03/2018

Washing Clothes in the Van With a Toilet Plunger

ball clothes washer and 5 gallon buckets ready to do laundry

One cheap way ta wash your laundry when vandwelling is with a 5 gallon bucket and a toilet plunger. Just started doin' this last week. Works great! Here's how.

The basic formula is ya get a 5 gallon bucket. Ya can get 'em free here and there. Or ya can buy 'em. I got mine at Walmart for less than $4 each. Ya need the lid, too.

Then ya get a plunger. Any ol' plunger'll do. It helps if ya drill holes in the rubber.

Vanholio got fancy, though. That one in the photo is the Ball Clothes Washer. Sprang for the $25 mostly 'cause I figured it'd be nice ta have the handles. Works fine. Only problem – and I ain't the only one who run inta this – is the workin' end comes loose. Plumber's tape fixed that.

Now, in the bucket lid, ya cut or drill a hole for your plunger handle. That cuts down on water swishin' out.

Toilet Plunger Clothes Washing How-To


  1. Pretreat stains.
  2. Put your plunger inta the bucket.
  3. Add some clothes.
  4. Add some laundry soap.*
  5. Top up the water. Hot is good.
  6. Close the lid.
  7. Work the plunger for about 10 minutes.
  8. Wring out the clothes
  9. Repeat Steps 2-8 with clean water / no soap ta rinse.**
  10. Hang dry.

* Since I'm at my house now, I'm usin' ¼ C Castile soap so that it's safe to pour the wash water onto my yard after. Good idea in the woods, too. One gal told me she just uses hot water and vinegar.

** Photo shows two buckets, but I think ya can use the same bucket again. Also, I put a little vinegar, about ½ C, ta the rinse water to clean off the soap better. Read somewhere that helps.

That's about it! Vanholio didn't invent this shit. He just tried it an' is passin' along.

Heard about other ways a doin' laundry on the road. This is just one. But it's a small enough system for vandwellers. Only issue is havin' 'nough water at hand for the job, about 6 gallons.

Try it out and let me know how it works for ya.

Fancy Toilet Plunger Clothes Washer Video





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