Cranking out laundry old-school-style with hand crank washing machines

May 19 2016 | Guest post by Loo
Visiting the Logan County Museum
By: tonitunesCC BY 2.0

Traveling to the laundromat can be time-consuming and expensive. However, purchasing your own standard washer isn't always an option for people. And those portable min-washers that attach to your sink are not allowed in rental units.

However, there are these small, hand crank washing machines that seem like they could be a viable alternative…

Wonder Wash hand-cranked washing machine
Wonder Wash hand-cranked washing machine
The Laundry Pod
The Laundry Pod
Easy Go hand-cranked washing machine
Easy Go hand-cranked washing machine
North Gear Non-Electric Portable Compact Mini Washing Machine
North Gear Non-Electric Portable Compact Mini Washing Machine

Has anyone tried these out and can share the costs/benefits of these products? Or do you have any recommendations (or warning!) for particular models?

  1. A friend recommended one of these if we decide to go with cloth diapers. Anyone have one? How does it do with getting the water out of say a pair of jeans or a towel after the rinsing?

    Do I need to buy a wringer too?

    • I was coming here to say that we've been looking into these (specifically the Wonder Wash) for cloth diapering when the little one arrives, and really hoping there would be some comments from experienced users! I do know that if we get one, we're also going to get the Laundry Alternative Nina (I think) spin dryer to get all the water out and help everything dry faster.

    • We had a Wonder Wash that we would use to pre-rinse our cloth diapers. It did not get them clean enough for use. Also, with soiled diapers you had to disinfect the machine, which was a bit of a hassle.

    • We use the Wonder Wash for cloth diapers and have been for almost two years. We love it. I am going to give probably way more info than you need, but here's our method:
      We have 20 pocket style diapers and use cloth during the day but disposable at night (and while traveling and being out and about for more than a couple of hours). We have a toilet sprayer which is really effective at getting poop out of the diaper because it is like a power washer with all that pressure. So we rinse the diaper first in the toilet with the sprayer. Then we wring it out and throw it in the Wonder Washer, which lives in our bathtub between uses. We wash about every other day, when there are 10-12 diapers in there. I have never walked into that bathroom and thought it smelled musty or like diapers, even though we keep the lid off (probably because we rinse the diaper first). When the time comes to wash, we set the washer next to our kitchen sink, which has a hose-style faucet, and fill with hot water and Charlie's Soap. We then crank for about a minute or two and drain. I think it takes two rinse cycles to get the soap all the way out, so sometimes I just rinse each diaper and insert by hand. That's the most annoying part, but it's not that bad. Then we wring them out and hang on a drying rack and leave them outside to dry, which gives them a good sun bleaching. Honestly, I have never disinfected the washer. With the toilet sprayer doing most of the work, you're essentially putting just stained diapers in the washer. There are no solids involved if you spray/rinse well and so I never feel like the washer is dirty.

      It's definitely an added chore, but I just listen to a podcast and zone out. It's worth it to me, but everyone will have to decide for themselves based on their circumstances whether it makes sense.

      • This has been so helpful! I pregnant and thinking about doing cloth diapers but truthfully was a little freaked out about sharing the washer with diapers. But your suggestions seem to be a great combo! And something we can add to a baby registry with reason. We never planned on doing JUST cloth diapers, ie disposable ones when traveling, or when someone else is watching the baby. So it is nice to hear that other pro-cloth diaper people don't do it 100% of the time.

  2. I have the Easy Go Washer and the Laundry alternative spin dryer. LOVE THEM. They took some getting used to but changed my tiny apartment life. SO much cheaper than the laundromat and I don't have to worry about losing anything. I've gotten a few shirts, a pair of jeans, and socks and underwear just fine in the washer (with a tennis ball for a little added agitation). I do have to divide it up for the spin dryer which is super picky for weight distribution. Air dry for a few hours (about 2-4 depending on how humid your day is, and if you have a fan directed at it) and you're ready to go on lighter items, jeans even with the spin dry take a while longer (like over night).

    Unfortunately neither gets cat hair off very well. And I can wash a full sized towel but cannot spin dry it which is a drag. But other than that laundry smells fresh and is amazing!

  3. I didn't even know things like this existed (*mind blown*)!! Thanks for bringing it to my attention! I have a relatively small wardrobe of mostly stretchy organic cotton/bamboo clothes, and worry about how washing them in a machine is shortening their lifespan…this looks like it would be great for stuff that needs a gentler washing…or am I wrong?

    • I think something like this might suit you well, especially if your clothes aren't particularly dirty.

  4. My husband and I own the Laundry Pod. Works super well. Very good upper body workout. It works really well but bigger items, like towels and jeans, take FOREVER to spin out. Or that could just be my wimpy arms talking. We don't use it anymore since we finally bought a washer/dryer unit. Clothes just took way too long to air dry in this Southern humidity. It is a fairly gentle wash and I still occasionally use it for delicates. It does feel like an over sized salad spinner which is pretty cool.

  5. I have the wonder-washer. It does work well–while it lasts. The lid never quite clamped perfectly tight no matter what I did, so I'd recommend using it in the tub or shower stall. The plastic screw on the top stripped pretty quickly, but I replaced it with a large eyelet screw (you can tighten it by sticking a rod through the eyelet and using leverage.) This meant that I could rock it back and forth but not turn it all the way over , but it worked just fine anyway. Which was a good thing, because next the handle broke. I now grab the eyelet screw and rock it back and forth that way, as far as it will go in either direction.

  6. I know people who use these for camping trips, and are pretty happy with them, but in the UK most people have a washing machine in their house/flat, so it's pretty rare to see someone do their daily laundry with them. They work well for things like underwear, but you'd struggle to do the bedsheets in them on a regular basis.

    Someone upthread mentioned it taking ages. Historically, washing for the average household did take a whole day, and you arranged other activities around it (like there are specific meals you'd have on wash day, because you couldn't cook stuff easily). If you were rich, you'd have enough clothes to last you months without washing, and then go on holiday while your servants spent two weeks doing the whole lot. Like, oh, I've nearly run out of slips. Must be time to tour Europe again!

  7. Ahh, the Wonderwash has been a lifesaver for us we live in an apartment where the laundromat is a joke. However I recommend getting a Spin dryer from the Laundry Alternative to get the clothes spun dry before hanging the up and then your in a happy buisness!

  8. I thought about getting one of these because my washer was tearing up my delicates (on the delicate cycle). But it was cheaper to by a salad spinner, since I'm only doing undies and bras in them. I think this would be perfect for camping though, never thought of that!

  9. I had one for awhile because we lived in an apartment where the basement was so disgusting that I didn't want to go down there to use the washer. It worked, but honestly, it was totally grueling. You can only do very tiny loads and it takes a LOT of elbow grease. I can see how they're great for camping but I'd hate to rely on it all the time.

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