I recently purchased a clothes washing “machine” for my home. It is the Wonderwash, a hand powered small washing machine. I was a little leery of the product, as it didn’t seem to have much more to it than would a plastic bucket with tight lid. However, it’s very small and costs only $50, and is supposed to use less water and much less energy than a conventional washer, so I sprung for it.
It is indeed similar to a bucket. It does come with a stand and crank, which seem to make it take up more room than a 5 gallon pickle bucket would while having a bit less capacity. But the cranking is fairly easy. I could simply roll a pickle bucket, but I’m not sure if that’d be as effective as rotating it on the other axis, with the sudden thwumping fall from one side to the other. The lid is screwed down, which is supposed to pressurize the contents (it definitely does). The pressure is supposed to do much of the cleaning, pushing the water and detergent through the clothing. This is the area I’m most worried about the pickle buckets capability. I will have to try the pickle bucket though to see how the results compare. It would be much cheaper, easier to obtain, more versatile, and smaller. The only other thing I’d be missing would be the spigot on the bottom of the wonderwash, which is nice save for the leaking it sometimes does.
So anyway, the Wonderwash thus far has done fairly well at cleaning my clothes, even in the two minute wash cycle recommended. Crank for two minutes. Drain and fill with rinse water. The rinsing takes 30 seconds, but I usually do two rinses. The whole process is fairly fast, most of the time going to filling and draining. Compared to hand washing, it seems to get the clothes somewhat cleaner, though probably not as well as normal washers. It is of course much easier, with no hands in the water, and is much faster. The rinse is also much easier and faster and seems to get better results with less water (the wash also uses less water than what I was using).
The biggest problem right now is with drying. I can easily handle hang drying from a regular washer, as the clothes are spun in them. There is no spinning in this or any ability to squeeze out the water as a group. This problem was the same as with hand washing, and is one reason I rarely did it. Since this is so much easier than hand washing, I’m more liable to do it. But I have almost no space for drip drying. Those clothes can really hold a lot of water. I can spend quite a bit of time squeezing them by hand and they still drip. I think the presses would probably be too bulky and take too much time. I’m considering a spinner. The wonderwash people also make two electric spin dryers. Uses energy, but it’d be fast and take me nearly to the dry point. I considered getting a commercial salad spinner instead, but they cost as much as the electric ones and would be more bulky and not get the clothes as dry. So I may just order an electric spinner soon.
Unfortunately, the spinner hurts the size advantages of the whole operation. I now need the washer, the spinner, and still need some hang drying space and apparatus. Luckily, the energy needs and water usage should be much lower. I’m hoping that once I get everything set up and get a good system going, the time required will not be much more than with the regular machines, especially since I have to drive to my parents to use them.