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Non electric Washing Machine

 
Posts: 7696
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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We washed clothes and diapers by hand for most of the years our sons were young.  I had two big aluminum washtubs on a stand outdoors that made it easy to fill from the spring and just squish around by hand a load of clothes, I think I did try a plunger some.....sometimes with no soap, sometimes with a little dr bronner's.  The hard part, I always thought, was the wringing and we just never got around to setting up a crank wringer, so it was always twisting to get out as much water as possible.  Sometimes the creek was running well enough for us to just clear water rinse everything and sometimes we took them to the river with us when we went swimming.
Diapers were a bit more complicated to rinse well first in a five gallon bucket and pour that water down the hillside next to but not in the garden and then wash and rinse and dry on the split rail fence.  
I'm not recommending any of these ideas really...just to say I don't regret the time spent and in the end, absolutely spotless clothes don't seem that important in the scheme of things.....ours always smelled great after spring/creek water rinses and time in the sun.
 
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
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Anne Miller wrote:Maybe I missed it but I didn't see any mention of using a toilet plunger.  A new one of course, that has not been used in the toilet.  You put the clothes in a tub, bucket or bath tub with soap and water then use it like a churn.



I use a plunger for large loads.   I got one off Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00WVTXVMC/ but the only advantage to homemade ones is that it is larger.  I accidently made a discovery when my plunger stick tip broke due to rot - and all I had handy was a broom handle.   Standing over your wash load with a long stick is substantially less work than using a short stick with the laundry at waste level.   Your weight does most of the work when you have the longer stick.  
 
Nancy Troutman
Posts: 186
Location: Swanton, MD
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Judith Browning wrote:
I'm not recommending any of these ideas really...just to say I don't regret the time spent and in the end, absolutely spotless clothes don't seem that important in the scheme of things.....ours always smelled great after spring/creek water rinses and time in the sun.



I think that hand washed clothes matches or exceeds the spot removing power of the washing machine.   It is easy to assume that the washer gets out all stains when you run into a stain that you cannot remove from the hand washing method.

I own a wringer washer, but I have removed the agitator in it and use a hand plunger instead.   The washtub it creates is easy to empty because of the hose attached for that purpose.   Where I live doing clothes outside is a recipe for pneumonia due to the cold for about 6 months out of the year.  I needed an inside washtub and the wringer washer's tub serves very well.

However, I am still a lazy bum.   When family comes, and the laundry becomes 2 loads a day versus 2 loads a week, I put the agitator back in and let it run off the electric.   Frankly, I cannot tell the difference in clothes washed with electric from clothes washed by hand.
 
Posts: 139
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
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Time and money have something in common. It matters not how you save it. More importantly is how do you spend it?

Mr. Atheist here, thinking about the future and how my actions affects the whole system. Permaculture is both a security of life's necessities and a moral issue.

Reducing my energy dependence means my life isn't so disrupted by price changes and unpredictable ups and downs of grid supply
Newfoundland runs of hydro dams installed many years ago but construction of a transmission line is underway to connect us to the continent. Then dependence on the grid becomes a moral issue because we are connected to all the fossil fuel power plants.

I really like that bike connected to a 45 gallon drum. Gonna have to look into that. A 12V motor connected to a solar panel with a similar connection to the drum might work on sunny days as well.
 
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A few more ideas about rolling a barrel.

With a suitable incline and barrel, you could fill the barrel at the top of the incline, roll it down for agitation. At the foot of the incline, drain the water; then you carry the empty barrel and the clothes back up to the top and fill it again. With a longer incline and a barrel that had drain holes in it, by the time the barrel had rolled to the foot of the incline, the water would be drained and the rotation of the barrel would be 'slapping' the clothes around to give some 'wringer' action.

Having plenty of water pressure at both top and foot of the incline, instead of a second roll for rinsing, at the foot of the incline I'd spread the clothes on an old bedframe or something, hose them down as a rinse, and then let the sun and air bring them on to dry enough for easy handling.
 
Jotham Bessey
Posts: 139
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
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LOL. don't think I want to walk up and down the hill for the incline barrel roll.
 
Mother Tree
Posts: 11657
Location: Portugal
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We finally got the off-grid laundry system set up!



It consists of two not-very-large builder's trugs, a home-made stool at just the right height to allow me to work without messing my back up, a scrubbing brush, some home made soap (the ecover is for washing my hair, which doesn't like 'real' soap for some reason) and a water supply, heated either by the sun or by a gas heater according to the weather.

Now we have it all set up and working, I think it works out less hassle than attempting to use a machine.



I always put the laundry to soak overnight - it does half the work for me like that! Just put the dirty clothes in the top trug with a dollop of soft soap (I make it with extra water so it stays soft enough to scoop out) and cover with cold water.

Next day, if it's cold I put that trug down on the floor, fill the other one with warm water and another dollop of soap and transfer the clothes into the clean water. I can either tip the water out onto the floor and let it find its way out the drain, or I can grab both handles of the trug in one hand and carry it out to water a tree with, depending on mood and how much the plants need water at the time. If it's warm, I just use the original trug with the cold soapy water. Then sploosh and scrub each item as necessary, dumping them into the now empty trug. When everything has been transferred, swap the trups again. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Then I hang them on a clothes horse under a roof to drip dry, and finally bring them into the house to finish drying after a day or so.

 
Posts: 134
Location: Zone 4b at 1000m, post glacial soil...British Columbia
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Hey folks, I was already remembering the washing machine I'm about to describe, and thinking about making it, before I saw this post.  How serendipitous is that?

Visiting a couple living off grid, with a small child (small child = laundry), the fellow had built the following:

It was two big plastic water-filled drums, in each of which a tire-less bicycle wheel was used as a plunger/agitator.  BUT:  the bike wheels were firmly fixed to something like a 2x2.  Both 2x2s had a pivoting connection to a single rocking arm.  This rocking arm was supported in the middle with a pivoting connection to a vertical post, just below shoulder height.  You worked the rocker arm with your own arms.  So, the whole thing was like a set of old fashioned balances, like the Libra symbol, but instead of dishes suspended from the arms, there were bike wheels.  The movement of the balancing arm up and down, made the bike wheels plunge up and down, moving both at once in opposition, in the barrels full of laundry--big enough to handle duvet covers, even.  Two barrels of grubby clothing, cleaned at once.  One could be sudsy, the other could be rinse.  The movement of the machine was very smooth; it was FUN to do, and everybody who happened to be visiting at that moment, had to have a go...never before had I seen so many people thrilled to be doing laundry!  The fellow must have been familiar with the tale of Tom Sawyer and his chore of whitewashing the fence....

This is my idea of efficient.  Getting a big load done without a great deal of time or effort.

I did not even own a camera at the time, otherwise I would post a picture.
 
My first bit of advice is that if you are going to be a mime, you shouldn't talk. Even the tiny ad is nodding:
Rocket Mass Heater Plans: Annex 6
https://permies.com/wiki/138231/Rocket-Mass-Heater-Plans-Annex
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