Wednesday, April 22, 2009


What does doing laundry on my patio with my Urban Washing Machine have to do with Earth Day 2009 ?
For one it's hand powered so very very energy efficient.
Two, this urban homestead washing machine was made with recycled materials.
Three, it uses homemade laundry soap.
Four, unless excessively abused this system will last a lifetime (landfill issues).
Five, this system harnesses the power of Nature's elements to dry the clothing.
Six, it's cost effective ( let's see Madison Ave. sell this for a jacked up price).
Seven, it's lightweight & portable - little to no carbon emissions spent on transporting.
Eight, it has built in security. No washing machine jacking happening here.
Nine, it allows the operator to multi task incorporating both clothes washing and an upper body work out at the same time thus saving $ that would be spent buying a gym membership. Not to mention the gas to drive to one.
Ten, this further enhances a very valuable life's lesson (conservation) that you can pass on to your children which is if you dirty it you plunge it.
K, seriously here's the low down.
My front loader that cost more than my 1st through 4th cars broke a few weeks ago. Well not actually broke but instead of spinning like a Lear jet it now starts knocking like the S.W.A.T. come a calling on a drug house when ever it hits the spin cycle. It has 3 spin cycles.
Got tired of thinking that my local drug task force mistaken my veggie seedlings growing under grow lights for asparagus (code for illegal vegetation).
Now that I'm on sabbatical (unemployed) I'm really not willing to call out a service guy.
DH took a quick look under the hood but due to a hectic work schedule & other more pressing homesteading tasks like building a raised bed he & a daughter haven't really looked under the hood. Plus I'd have to hide my canning stove & a few other activities we engage in that tip toe close to the line of illegal when the Maytag Man comes a knocking.
So in less than five minutes DH drilled me a hole in the lid of a 5 gallon pail then added a screw to keep the head of a plunger on the stick. I cut 4 slits vertically on the top of the rubber portion to increase the agitation effect. Kinda like my own personality huh?
An upgrade would be to snag an old broom or mop handle to replace the handle on the plunger. This would make for a better leverage.
Use: place a bit of laundry soap in bucket along with water followed by clothing. If it's socks & unders then 6 to 10. T-shirts two or three. Secure lid with plunger in the bucket, handle sticking out thru the hole in lid. Plunge like your churning butter for two minutes.
Wring clothing out, place in the next bucket which has water & a few tablespoons of white vinegar in. This is your rinse cycle. Agitate with hands a few times then wring out.
Place clothing on line or the back of a chair to dry.
Better to do outside as then dripping water isn't an issue.
Bath tub works well also.
Optional - add a second bucket with a tablespoon of fabric softener to water for a finally rinse cycle.
Not wringing the clothes out completely only added 6 extra hours of drying time. So until DH can rehab that old antique clothes wringer we bought I'm not gonna stress about it.
This has been a great way to extend the family budget. We are only needing to visit the neighborhood Laundromat once a week doing only 3 loads - jeans, heavy articles like hoodies, blankets, & towels.
~~ pelenaka ~~
5/28/2009 Update - heavy blankets & comforters are the only items that have been laundered @ the laundromat. Seems as time goes by my stamina for plunging increases so washing blue jeans & hoodies aren't an issue. Wool blankets however are a bit over the top for me ... now.


  1. OH MY GOD THIS IS PURE GENIUS!!! I have gone without a washing machine a few times and a drier having to wash in the bathtub. This would be easier. And its eco-friendly. Thanks for sharing this!!!!

  2. I'm looking forward to getting back to handwashing, and I was doing everything including jeans. Problem is/was a shoulder issue that was aggravated by the plunging work. I've had 6 weeks of phys therapy so I may be able to ease back into it soon. The longer handle is a great idea.

  3. I can totally empathise as I "got" tendonitis in my right shoulder over a year ago. I actually think it has to do with my chonic dx. of carpal tunnel snydrome & a pinched Ulna in my elbow which I refused to have surgery on.
    Keeping my hands & arms almost level with my upper chest while grasping the handle really helps.
    Funny when I'm plunging I keep remembering that chant from a Judy Blume book," we must we must ... increase our bust ..."!
    Will let everyone know if it helps.

  4. Thank you Patrice. You are one of the few peeps who come to understand breath & width of my mind ... that being said gotta come clean & say that the plunger is a knock off of an item that Lehnman's sells. I'm just very cheap.
    The white bucket was bought curb shopping last Summer. Having the lid not only keeps the water in but allows you to get a good churning action going.
    Normal size load of t-shirts, socks, unders, shorts, takes about half an hour from start to finish line. Clothes line that is.

  5. Keep an eye out for a commercial mop bucket. Or check a janitorial supply or restaurant supply store for one. You can use the mop-wringer to squeeze water out of small loads of clothing.

  6. Good idea.
    Hanging clothes dripping wet might start to be an issue come January.

  7. This is very cool. Good to know some options in a pinch, other than fill the sink and hand scrub.


  8. Stella here..can't figure out what URL is! This is pure genius, I have been debating wether to purchase the hand-powered mini-washer from Lehmans. This will be much cheaper and I can't wait to start. One question. What kind of drill-bit did your DH use? I have the drill just not the know-how. Thank you from an over-worked single mom!!!

  9. The bit was a 1" spade bit usually comes in a group of 5 @ the Hardware store.
    However if you have an old tire iron handy you could heat the end up that doesn't have the socket/lug wrench & poke a hole thru the plastic lid.

    Yesterday I washed both my daughter's softball uniforms in less than five minutes. Even in 40 odd degree weather last night the uniforms dried in time for them to wear to school today.
    DH helped me do thick towels and my terry cloth bathrobe this afternoon so I could avoid the laundrymat & save some $.
    Oh an accourding to him I'm looking pretty perky so the excercise aspect of the UWM is panning out, lol.

  10. Laughing about the exercise part. I just made up an exercise schedule (because I don't do it otherwise) and put "do the laundry by hand" as an alternative to other choices. Doing two blankets and the comforter cover this morning worked up a sweat! We'll see how my shoulder does with it.


Thanks, good to know there are other's with this interest