Well, maybe not a survival skill per-se but, more of a home domestication skill. I know if you are in a survival situation water will be more valuable, but I think this would come in handy if electricity goes out for a few weeks or for a longer term solution, provided that you have a reliable source of water, if electricity is still out. Our great grandparents learned to clean their clothes long before there was a washing machine or electricity. To me during tough times, cleanliness is everything. You keep clean, and you keep relatively healthy. So, I think this skill might come in handy.
What I use is just a regular rubber dish basin (you can also use a clean bucket) and a toilet plunger. Why a toilet plunger? It is good for agitating the fabric, (as well as good exercise for your arms!) I got the basin for $6 at a grocery store and plunger for $3 at a huge box hardware store. BTW, I use that plunger for laundry ONLY, nothing else, hehehe. I have a seperate plunger for the toilet. What I use for cleaning materials is borax ($4 a box), Dr Bronner's Magic Castille Soap (the most expensive at $9.50, HOWEVER, I use very little per load), white vinegar ($1.25), and regular bleach ($4-ish). NOTE: I only use bleach for bed linens, and undergarments. Do not use bleach like Hi-lex on colored stuff, it will take out the dyes in color garments. Also, I don't touch bleach water with my bare hands. I heard it is not good to do that. So I use rubber gloves. Does anyone know if this is true? I also use Ivory bar soap for things that will stain. Add the clothes into the basin, work with the plunger for a while, rub out any clothes with stains, and then rinse your clothes really, really well.
For drying clothes, I just wring them out really well, and hang them up someplace that it is o.k. to let them drip dry. Clothes lines work well for most places, but for places like an apartment, I recommend an inexpensive folding clothes rack. That is what I use. Depending on the time of the year, clothes are usually dry within a day. If I need my stuff dry within few hours, I take and put the clothing rack in front of my box fan, since I have electricity.
Again, sorry for the long delay between posts, been busy with some stuff.