Pedal-powered Washing Machine - Tiny House Blog

Pedal-powered Washing Machine

One of the Tiny House Blogs avid readers is Darrell. Darrell likes to find interesting ideas and small appliances that he thinks the Tiny House Blog readers would enjoy and than he emails them to me.

Darrell recently sent me this article from ecofriend about some MIT students who have developed a pedal-powered washing machine. You can read the full article at ecofriend but here is a little of the information some pictures and a video.


“Bicilavadora” is a new pedal-powered washing machine that has been designed by a team of students at MIT using nothing more than an old oil drum, an old bicycle and some pieces of plastic joined together.

The washing machine is targeted toward those regions of the developing world where residents don’t have access to grid electricity and having a washing machine is considered a luxury. The washing machine consists of an outer housing made of a standard oil drum cut apart and welded to make a shorter barrel, since churning 55 gallons of laundry with pedal-power is not feasible.

The inner drum, which the team states as one of the most critical parts of the design, is made from a set of identical plastic pieces together. The system is then connected to an old bicycle sans its wheels.

The chain is connected to a gear mechanism harnessed from an old geared mountain bike. The highest gear is used for the spin cycle and the lowest gear for the wash cycle.

This might work just fine for your eco friendly tiny house, so book mark it for future reference.

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Ben - March 26, 2009 Reply

While receiving training for biointensive mini farming, several years back, I had access to their pedal powered washer. It was basically a 55 gallon plastic barrel tipped at 30-40 degrees with fins on the inside. It worked great, but it did not have a spin dry and we had to use a wringer to get the water out. I like the smaller size of this unit and that you can spin much of the water out. I wonder if it is possible to get the plans for this unit. Ours definitely cleaned the clothes as well as the best commercial front loaders. Plus we could re-use even the wringer rinse water for the second load. I’d expect this one would do just as well.

Darrell - March 27, 2009 Reply

yeah, I might have over done it slightly last week. I think I sent him about 5 or 6 links to things I found. In one day. One at a time. I’m not sure he want’s to hear from me again for a while. 🙂 Next time I’ll save them up and send them all at once. 🙂
I do try to send only the good stuff tho.

Rene - March 29, 2009 Reply

Love it love it love it! Thanks for the head’s up on this, I’m definitely going to try to build one eventually.

Would love to make one that runs both the washing machine and a blender at the same time!

Elizabeth - March 30, 2009 Reply

Maybe the folks at MIT could hook one of these up to an erg (rowing machine). I’d get clean clothes and a faster 2k time with one workout!

david potter - April 22, 2009 Reply

I would like to get a hold of plans for this bycycle washing machine …. how can I get a copy or purchase a copy.



    Kevin Walters - December 11, 2010 Reply

    Did you ever find plans for the pedal-powered wash machine? Where? I am interested in building one, but need plans. Thanks, Kevin

      Kent Griswold - December 11, 2010 Reply

      I have not been able to, if anyone knows of any please comment and let us know.

Ann Formeller - August 19, 2009 Reply

I have friends who have a sustainable eco lodge in the cloud forest of Ecuador. They are completely off the grid for water and electricity. They lived off of solar power for more than ten years. During this time they had a blender that was bike powered. They now have a small hydro power plant of their own so they can power lights in thier cabins and also an electric blender. Contact them directly for more info…

Kevin Walters - December 11, 2010 Reply

I too am interested in getting plans to make a pedal-powered wash machine such as the one demonstrated here. Do you know where I could find plans? Thanks.

Kevin - May 29, 2011 Reply

Anybody find plans? I saw a video by John Delp on YouTube; he did a really nice pedal-power washing machine. I don’t see any sort of plans for it though, and he’s not yet responded to emails 🙁

Closet SurvivalistDay 8 Laundry - Surviving the Apocalypse in the Suburbs - August 17, 2011 Reply

[…] machines’ to see what’s out there. But they are usually pricey. Or you can be build a pedal powered washing machine, like the one discussed on this blog, Tiny House […]

Sandy Taggart - August 20, 2011 Reply

We have lived off the grid for 20 years now and have a minimal solar, would like to wean off generator use and want to man power a laundry machine. we have a strong exercise bike a scwinn air dyne) we’d like to use to power tired of having the electric washers break down – we live in the middle of nowhere. we are an animal rescue shelter and have LOTS of laundry!! where can we buy one of these peddle powered machines, or get plans on how to build? Thanks

Christie - April 22, 2014 Reply

There is a very good pedal washing machine and its work better..its saving electricity.

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Maria - November 5, 2014 Reply

There is a good pedal washing machine,and when we wash clothes in this one type of exercise and also washing clothes properly..the video is tells everything.thanks.,

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