For some inexplicable reason there seems to be a real desire as of late for washing and drying clothes in a tiny house. I am perplexed by this mostly because I don’t understand the desire for clean clothes! I jest. I jest. I get it. No one wants soiled, stained, or otherwise smelly clothing. But I am perplexed a bit because when I think of space consciousness I almost never think of large appliances. And yes, I would consider washer and dryer units to be large. They take up quite a bit of space. In fact, in just some very quick research I found that the average washer is 27.25″ deep. That is just over 2 feet deep and when your entire house is only about 8.5 feet across (read: deep) that is roughly 1/4 of your space. Judging by the typical tiny house layout you are looking at some serious space restrictions that make the inclusion of a washer and/or dryer, pretty laughable. Yet it is being done regularly now. How? How is that possible? Creativity and plenty of it!
Before talking any further about specific laundry machines it is important to understand the 3 guiding principles of laundry machines.
ELECTRICAL REQUIREMENTS. Washing machines – EnergyStar or not – require a fair amount of energy. Truth is, around 80-90% of the energy used by a washing machine is used to heat water, unless the washing machine is connected specifically to a hot water connection. This requirement is significantly different though with the inclusion of an on-demand hot water system. It is important to note also that older top loader washing machines generally use more water and energy leaving more modern front loaders more efficient. Fact: a washing machine will use 400 to 1300 watts.
If you are living off-grid or are just trying to curb your energy consumption you may want to look at different systems of hand washing.
BASIC PLUMBING. The concept of washing machines is rather simple. Water in. Wash. Water out. Whether that amount be 5 gallons or 25 gallons (a requirement of some washers, mind you), it is a huge requirement. If you are living in any way that is not connected directly to some sort of septic system or grey water septic, that amount may not be feasible at all. If your tiny house has a holding tank like a more traditional RV, 25 gallons of wastewater will almost fill your tank.
Something as mainstream (or mainstream now anyway) as a Wonderwash can eliminate 90% of that water. The exchange though is that you can only wash a limited amount of clothing in the Wonderwash. In fact, the churn suggests no more than 10 t-shirts and 2 pairs of blue jeans.
In term of actual plumbing, because a washing machine dumps up to 25 gallons of wastewater at one time it will be important to build a drainage system that can handle such and explosion of water. PVC will be absolutely necessary and probably PVC that is between 3″ and 4″.
SIZE (again). You’ve probably heard the song “Deep and Wide” at some point in your life. I bet you didn’t know it was written about washing machines and dryers though, did you?
So with those guidelines in mind, what washing and drying system are you now considering? Are you going to go Wonderwash or simply a washboard? Are you going to have that Whirlpool no matter what?