Hillbilly Washing Machine

We all know that camping can be pretty dirty, and typically the more fun you have the dirtier you will get. If you are a parent then you know for sure that your kids will find the muddiest and dirtiest places possible to play camp games or will wipe their chocolatey hands all over their clothes after enjoying a sweet, tasty treat. While some RVs come equipped with a washer and dryer (lucky!), most do not. So you’re faced with two options: pack twice as many clothes since you can’t wash any on your camping trip, or make trips to the nearby Laundromat and spend a few hours sitting there watching your clothes spin. Well, how about this for an idea: make your own hillbilly washing machine so you can clean your clothes easily right at your campsite! Not only is this ingenious, but it’s easy to make and cost effective too! So let’s do it!

Before you leave for your destination, you’ll want to head down to your local home improvement store or hardware store and pick up a few things.

Shopping List

5-Gallon bucket with lid

Cheap toilet plunger


Now you just need to head back home and assemble it!


Start with the bucket lid! Cut a hole in the center of it that’s just a little wider than the stick of the plunger. This will allow you to use the “washing machine” without getting splashed with water!

If you bought a plunger with the extra rubber in the bottom, cut that part out! You don’t need that piece. Then go ahead and cut about 6 holes in the plunger itself. This is going to allow the water to flow through it when you’re using it as the agitator!

Now you can load up your washer with dirty clothes and water, add a little soap, and plunge away! Use only half the amount of soap you would use in a regular washing machine. Otherwise you’ll have way too much soap and you’ll end up having to rinse your clothes several times. The plunger will help move around your clothes and rub them together which will get all that dirt and grime off of them. The longer you plunge, the more dirt you’ll get out.

Once the clothes are clean, you just need to rinse them. Remove the soapy water and ensure you are disposing the waste water correctly. Soapy water (especially if you are not using an all-natural soap) can be harmful to the environment as well as any critters living in the area.

You can use store bought soap, or make your own DIY laundry soap using our recipe below!

Once you have your clothes cleaned and rinsed, just tie your clothesline between two trees and hang your clothes out to dry! You may even find that clothes hung to dry have a fantastic smell and texture to them. Who knows, you may end up wanting to hang all your laundry from now on!

DIY Laundry Soap

This soap is a huge money saver and won’t contain extra dyes or perfumes that can irritate your skin!


1 bar of soap

1 cup of borax

1 cup of washing soda


Shave the soap into small pieces with a cheese grater. You won’t want big chunks that will take forever to dissolve.

In a gallon-sized plastic bag, add all of the ingredients and shake until well blended.

Use about a tablespoon per load and you should be all set! You can even use this in your washing machine at home!

Note: You can find both the borax and the washing soda in the laundry aisle at the supermarket. You can also find actual laundry bar soap, or just use some regular bar soap that you would find in the health and beauty section. Just ensure if you use the regular soap that you get something that doesn’t have extra moisturizers in it. This can create a buildup on your clothes and you may end up ruining them.

Do you use a hillbilly washing machine when camping? How do you clean your clothes in the great outdoors? Let us know in the comments!