Tiny Washing Machine

by Kent Griswold on February 6th, 2009. 30 Comments
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One of the questions that comes up often with regards to a tiny house, especially one of the tiny houses, like Jay Shafer’s Epu is how do you do your laundry? Jay says that he uses the laundry mat. That is ok for some, but is there an alternative?

My sister-in-law lives in Thailand discovered a neat tiny hand powered wash machine that I think would work perfectly in a small space, and when not in use could be stored away easily. Plus the price is right at only $50. Here is the company’s description:

Hand Powered Portable Washing Machine

If you’re looking for a greener alternative to washing your clothes, it doesn’t get much greener than our hand powered laundry machine (well, laundry washer, it’s not really a machine if you crank it yourself!).

This portable washing machine requires no electricity, which saves money in energy bills. It is also portable, which enables you to use in places that don’t have electricity.

When you’re in a hurry to wash a few items, this washing machine easily solves the problem of having to wait around for your electric or gas washing machine to complete a full load of laundry or feel bad about only washing a few items at a time.

Made of plastic with no mechanical parts, the hand powered washing machine comes assembled. Just attach the handle and go! It can last a lifetime and requires no maintenance.

Because this washing machine is so small, it’s easy to store and move from one place to another. This is an ideal washing machine to have with you in an RV, on road trips, at weekend sports tournaments, in apartments, especially those with limited access to laundry areas, on camping trips and those who want to make their lifestyle more energy efficient.

This small washing machine uses less water and powder detergent per load of laundry. The washing cycle is also extremely fast (from 10 seconds to 2 minutes) saving you an extraordinary amount of time.

If you work in the yard or outside frequently and don’t like to put your really dirty clothes in the wash with your other clothes, this washing machine allows you to easily separate them and get them thoroughly clean without staining other clothes.

How it works:

  • Insert your dirty laundry along with a measured amount of water and soap (instructions are included that list the appropriate amounts and temperatures)
  • Secure the lid, but do not overtighten
  • Turn the handle approximately one turn per second
  • Once the washing is done, release the pressure of the lid by slowly turning the knob
  • Rinse your laundry either in the portable washing machine after draining the dirty water or in the sink
  • Then hang the clothes to dry!

Five pounds of clothes is equal to approximately 10 shirts or 2 pairs of jeans.

This tiny hand powered portable washing machine can be bought from Clean Air Gardening for $50, so if this fits your needs go check it out.

The Crank

The Crank

Washer with Clothes

Washer with Clothes

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February 6th, 2009and filed in Tiny Furnishings
Tags: Tiny Furnishings, washing machine
30 Comments

30 Responses to “Tiny Washing Machine”

  1. The rowdykitten and I own a wonderwash and have used it off and on for a couple years now. From experience, we would urge anyone considering a wonderwash/hand-crank-washer to also consider buying a clothes wringer of some sort. The washer works well given its small size however the factor that makes the whole wash process cumbersome and even arduous is the
    wringing of the water from the clothes. This wringing process took so much personal effort we stopped using the washer for awhile. Even Colin Beavan (aka “no impact man”) and Sharon Astyk have cited laundry machines as perhaps the most difficult electrical appliance to part with in going “off-grid”. The laundry-alternative web site we purchased our wonderwash from suggests a small “spindryer” electric centrifuge type machine to alleviate this problem. It seemed odd to us why someone would want a manual hand-crank washer yet choose an electrical wringer. We wanted something we could use off-grid and perhaps even when the power was out. Currently we are considering purchasing a quality clothes wringer from Lehmans. They seem to be the only place we can find a manual wringer meant for clothes (and not mops ;). However with a price tag of over $200 (after shipping), we will have to save up for it. Even if we did all our laundry by hand it would still take us about a year before the equipment paid for itself.

    Cheers and good luck!
    Logan and the Rowdy Kitten.

  2. [...] handwashing (sorta) our own clothes.  Reserving the washer for blankets and sheets.  I say “sorta” because I’m considering using the 5 gal bucket + Gamma lid (ala WonderWash:  http://tinyhouseblog.com/tiny-furnishings/tiny-washing-machine/ & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33OHmWckcDc ) [...]

  3. Christina says:

    This hand washer is on sale at Lehman’s (www.lehmans.com) for $30.

    Lehman’s also sells the Wonder Clean, which looks exactly the same, for $48. The Wonder Clean works great & it’s fantastic! I live offgrid & I’ve washed all my laundry – except heavy blankets – in it for 6 years, sun-drying the laundry. This amazing portable hand washer is a wonderful addition to offgrid & tiny living.

  4. Angela says:

    Even though those products are great i saw a company that sells the washer and a spin dryer for pretty reasonable money. the site is laundry-alternative.com
    I think it’s worth it to get all my products from the same company

  5. alice says:

    Washing clothes is easy, it’s the wringing out part that complicates laundry and this type of machine doesn’t seem to do that. You can still get hand wringers, I believe Lehman’s has a couple types. If I was going to spend money on a hand laundry device I’d skip the washer and get a wringer. Line drying outside is great and you can always set up a wood or metal folding dryer inside on rainy days. There are lots of retractable clotheslines for indoor use as well. You can always use a loft to dry clothes during the day.

  6. KittyAtlanta says:

    I’m still on the grid, have a standard laundry pair down in the dungeon, but I love my Wonder Wash. I use the big equipment, perhaps 4 times per year. I used to have washable rugs over my hardwoods, but when they wore out I didn’t replace them. I use my Wonder Wash for everything else. I do have a centrifugal extractor that I use to get them almost bone dry. I find that even if I don’t use detergent in the WW, the clothes still come out clean. I work in an office, so not much real dirt. As for “all that hand wringing” I just squeeze out the water – no wringing for me, and let the extractor take care of the excess water. Some things will need to be ironed, but it’s worth it to me, as I just dislike my basement so much.

  7. snowyday says:

    I have friends with a baby and they have no laundry facilities in their apartment building. They use this washer before bringing their cloth diapers to the laundromat.

  8. Davidrc says:

    About 10 or 15 years ago this same device was being sold as a butter churn, even then people were talking of using it as a small washing machine. Might have been as long ago as 20 years.

  9. Phyllis says:

    Check ebay. Right now there are several wringers up for auction, in the lot there’s one going for 9.99 that’s really good looking, in terms of usability and condition. There’s another for over a hundred that’s a current production item. And, a couple of others that could suit if you wanted to put some reconditioning effort into them. Wringers are out there if you look.

  10. Zach Smith says:

    This portable washer is a good choice if you don’t have much laundry needs. It does not really strike me as a durable machine. It might come handy for washing delicate clothes though. But I suggest purchasing a compact combo washer instead. This is a better investment.

  11. [...] season (summer), we start to think more about how to save water and how to use less of it. The Tiny House blog notes [...]

  12. scott says:

    Well it seems to me if you wanna find something like this for a low price, then you should go to a 3rd world country where washing machines are too expensive to maintain. As the author said it was found in Thailand. I have an Aunt in the Philippines that has maid to clean clothes through a wringer because it saved on the water and electric bill.

  13. Jacquelyn says:

    I have been using my wonder washer and spinner from laundry alternative for about 3 months and absolutely love it. I live a in a small studio and wash all of my clothes, expect the blankets and pillows. Its gratifying to be greener, save money, and very rewarding.

  14. Dave says:

    Hand laundry wringers are expensive items,a very effective and low cost alternative is the five gallon bucket wringer (this goes well with the five gallon bucket washing machine-for another post). Take two five gallon buckets, drill good sized holes,about ten to twenty, in one. Place wet clothes in bucket with holes, take second bucket (with lid on it) and place on top of wet clothes and SIT. Done. Not as good as an old fashioned mangle but this uses no power and gets most of the water out, which is the point. Gravity and sunshine do the rest.

  15. Nerida says:

    For winter drying, I have a rack (you might use for hanging your pots and pans overhead). There is a pully in the ceiling near our wood heater, the rack is attached to nylon cord which runs through the pully. Lower the rack for hanging the clothes and then hoist to the ceiling for drying. There is a cleat attached to the wall to anchor the nylon cord. Hot air rises and dries the clothes. When the heater is operating they dry even quicker.

    Plug the shower or catch your shower water in a bucket and then hand wash in the shower/bath water what you took off before you got in. Washing each day means no pile of dirty clothes and you only need a machine for your linen.

  16. alice says:

    Washing is easy enough, it’s the wringing that drives me nuts. I ran across this ingenious device today http://peaceofpreparedness.com/Resource%20Library/Emergency%20Prep/Non%20Electric%20Laundry%20Press.pdf A bucket press to get the water out of your clothes that will only cost you 3 buckets, one lid and a bit of time. Haven’t tried it yet but it seems worth a look anyway.

  17. Sarah Jane says:

    I bought a version of the Wonderwasher off of Amazon.com… BIG MISTAKE! I have friends who have the American made version, purchased from Lehmans which they were using for a while, not sure if they both still are. Mine was a flimsy, leaky piece of crapola. Cranking it felt like it would rip apart the weak plastic frame. It’s lid was broke when it arrived, and the second one still leaked so using it left you with a stripe of water down your front. If you buy this at all, go with USA made.

    Instead of buying another one-use device, I bought a homer bucket and lid and a plunger (don’t get the pink one, it’ll fall apart eventually) and use that for most of my laundry. I should write a blog post to show how I use it. It’s just as easy as my crappy version of the wonderwasher. And it cost way less! I think I left the Home Depot spending less than $10. And a bucket is a multipurpose device. KEEP YOUR QUARTERS!

  18. Mel says:

    How about a wringer that costs little to no money? You can twist out excess water from your heavy clothes or blankets with a stick–like they used to in the olden days. You will need a friend or companion to help out. (Or attach it solidly to the wall.) Just fold the garment over the stick. Have a friend hold on to both sides of the stick-around the garment. Another person holds on to the two ends of the garment. The person with the stick twists the stick.

    The only problem with this method is that it can be hard on certain kinds of fabric.

  19. [...] Pioneers Smart Energy Technology Can Nudge Climate Change Politics: Charles Perrow – BloombergHand Powered Portable Washing Machine var topsy_style = 'big'; var topsy_nick = ''; var topsy_order = 'count,badge,retweet'; var [...]

  20. Christine says:

    Try what we call a “camp washer”. Use a 5 gallon bucket with lid. Cut a hole in the center of lid. Insert a plunger (new). Now, water, soap, clothes. Put plunger in and through the hole in the lid. Snap the lid on and walllahhh! Agitate the clothes.

  21. Sarah Lee says:

    Something I like from thismini washing machine is its very simple and easy to use. Its not like other laundry products from other brands.
    thanks you for posting!

  22. [...] Wonder wash led me on yet another excursion for information and I wound up here, at the Tiny House Blog. And down I fell. I would say I am so far down the rabbit hole, that I am [...]

  23. [...] by Yahoo! AnswersThomas asks…how do i clean a pillow top mattress?i think there is feathers inside. you know.. its …ean a pillow top mattress?i think there is feathers inside. you know.. its just a regular pillow top [...]

  24. Fan says:

    OMG, Truly clean clothes!! Since I really wanted to save money I also purchased the spin dryer. I didn’t expect it to be as big as it was, but I am very happy with it’s size. Now I can dry more clothes while I leave pre-washing/soaking a bit another load. I placed it straight in the spin dryer soaking wet for a minute or two and VOILA! my clothes are about 95% dry. Now it only takes a half of day for the clothes to be completely dry. Awesome products!” Glenda G. Brooklyn, NY

  25. [...]  No washing machine – I washed nappies in a little hand operated washing machine like this one. No fridge. We had a kero fridge for a while but it was so smelly and unreliable I just stopped [...]

  26. [...] http://tinyhouseblog.com/tiny-furnishings/tiny-washing-machine – I would not pay $50 for this.  I am posting it because I would use this design to come up with my own home made version of this mini washer.    I think a plastic jug with a secure lid and rolled on the ground would suffice.  I also think the comments left on the “The Tiny House Blog” are an excellent resource for gleaning off-grid living tips. [...]

  27. Rhoda says:

    If I had it to do all over again, I would save my 50 dollars and wash my clothes in a bucket. I use the wonder wash when we camp. If I want the stains to come out of our clothes I have to scrub them before I wash them. The stand is kind of flimsy and I’m always afraid it’s going to break when I use it. Our dripping wet clothes dry on our wash line in three to four hours. The clothes are less wrinkled when they drip dry. In summary, I would suggest washing your clothes in one bucket and rinsing in another.Then letting the clothes drip dry on the line.

  28. Christie says:

    There is a so tiny washing machine i want to watch for that how to work it.

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