WonderWasher and Spin Dryer

My new home isn’t equipped with a washer and dryer.

Originally, I had planned on doing laundry at my mom’s – but I found the 4 hours spent with no outside activities to do, like trimming her hedges or mowing her lawn, dragged by and sometimes, especially with the child-unit playing sports, I really needed to do some laundry mid-week.

After doing some research,  this is what I really wanted, a homemade washer/spinner developed by Aaron Stathum and Eliot Coven at Philadelphia University:

Provisional patent filed with Philadelphia University - Picture courtesy of "Developing World Laundry System"
Provisional patent filed with Philadelphia University – Picture courtesy of “Developing World Laundry System” report – see link below

(Developing World Laundry System – pdf report)

Since nice weather and unfrozen ground was still awhile away, I put off building this and instead purchased these for winter laundry needs:

Wonder Washer and Spin Dryer
Wonder Washer and Spin Dryer

I started at 10:47 a.m. this morning – with my boxed Wonder Washer, Spin Dryer (ordered from Compact Appliance) and a some-assembly-required drying rack I picked up at Wal-Mart and had finished two loads of clothes by 12:23.   I’m sure future loads will go faster, now that I know what I’m doing – –

Assembly

Not hard at all – Numbers relate to pictured parts.

Wonder Washer - some assembly required
Wonder Washer – some assembly required
  • 1 – Take the two bottom pieces with suction cups on them and
  • 2 – Slide on the side pieces
  • 3 – Insert the barrel into the pedestal
  • 4- Put on the handle
  • 5- Secure each side of the drum/handle with the two included pins
  • 6- Cover the notches of the side pieces with these cute little pieces (which scatter all over the kitchen when you rip open the bag – sort of like airline peanuts…)
  • 7 & 8 – Pressure top and tightener after you load the thing with water, soap and clothes
  • 9- Nifty Drain pipe that pushes in, twist and then seats to drain out wash and rinse water.

Washing

First load I did:

  • 3 dishrags
  • 2 flour-sack towels
  • 1 pair khaki pants
  • 1 pair capris
  • 1 pair shorts
  • 1 pair um…unmentionables…
  • 2 pair socks

Maybe I overloaded and maybe not.   Turned easily and everything got clean except for previous stains on the dishrags – I didn’t pre-treat anything and I used cold water, with house brand laundry detergent.

Instructions said to turn once per second and for a duration of 2 minutes.   I found that the tempo and length of “Cross the Brazos at Waco” to be near perfect and happily sang while I turned.

Drain, Rinse, Drain

After my fabulous rendition of Cross the Brazos was done, I moved the washer towards the sink and inserted the drain pipe.

Drains faster when you remember to take the pressure top off...
Drains faster when you remember to take the pressure top off…

Slow going – so I put together the drying rack while waiting for it to drain.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy
Easy peasy lemon squeezy

Added rinse water, turned for 30 seconds (to the tune of three repeats of Row, Row, Row Your Boat – actually about 37 seconds, but who’s counting?) and set to drain it again.

While waiting for the rinse water to drain, I took out the spin dryer from the box – took the motor stabilizer bar off the bottom, attached the extra length of drain pipe, plugged ‘er in and waited for the washer to drain.

(When I first opened the top of the spinner, PHEW! what a plastic smell – sprayed some OdoBan enzyme freshener in it and it wasn’t so bad.)

At this point, it occurred to me that loosening the lid on the WonderWasher might help it to drain faster – – which I did, and it did, and didn’t I feel like a dunce for not thinking of it in the first place!

Spin Drying

Everything had gone along without a hitch until this stage.   I pulled out a pair of shorts and the dishrags, hand-wrung them over the sink, plopped them into the spin dryer, put on the safety lid, closed the top lid and set the timer to 2 minutes – and proceeded to grab onto the spinner for dear life.    Took everything out, tried the shorts by themselves and still didn’t work.  Tried with and without the safety lid (instructions be damned…)  I do not recommend spinning without the safety lid:

It said to use the Safety Lid for a reason!
It said to use the Safety Lid for a reason!
Fine - I'll use it...
Fine – I’ll use it…

Set the unit on the floor, hoping the problem was due to the slight lip on the edge of my counter – but no go.

Successfully spin-dried the socks, dishrags and other light stuff and thought, “Well, this is disappointing.  That stuff dries fast, anyways.”

I really wanted to be able to just plop the clothes in and set the timer.  I was thinking about asking for a refund at this point.

But not to be dissuaded, I kept trying different things and finally found the trick –

If you place the clothes in the spinner so they look like they would at the end of the spin cycle, it works just dandy – plopping them in the middle and waiting for them to move to the outer wall doesn’t work – unless you want to sit on your spinner – which I think was on the “DO NOT DO” list in the instructions…

I never had to spin anything more than 2 minutes before water was barely trickling out the drain hose.

Second load consisted of:

  • 5 pair of boxers
  • 1 long sleeved t-shirt
  • 4 short sleeved t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeve polyester shirt
  • 1 pair nylon shorts
Pants and heavy shorts need to be spun one at a time
Pants and heavy shorts need to be spun one at a time

Resources

I used 6 gallons of water to do 4 days worth of laundry.

The spin dryer’s rating is 82 watts and I used it 16 minutes.

8 tablespoons of laundry detergent

6 minutes of singing

The initial cost of this pair is equivalent to the fuel costs of 16 trips to mom’s – if I add in the savings to her electrical bill from not running her washer and dryer for 3 hours each trip, then I think it’s safe to say the return on investment will occur after approximately 3 months.

Conclusion

Pretty certain I may have crammed more into each load than I was supposed too, but it all turned out all right – if anything has bad stains, I most certainly will pre-treat/scrub, but for lightly worn and in-need-of-freshening clothes, I am very pleased with the results.

An hour after finishing, the barrel of the spin dryer still showed water droplets – no handy way to wipe down and while not a problem out here in arid Colorado, those living in humid climates may experience issues.

While I still hope to build my outdoor laundry center this summer, I’m glad to have this set-up for winter time.

Update:

Used my set for the second time and learned some new tricks: WonderWasher Part II.

Update, Part Deux:

Unfortunately, the Spin Dryer quit working on week four.   Placed a call to Compact Appliance, who referred me to Laundry Alternative (the manufacturer) as the purchase was more that 30 days old.

Laundry Alternative does not bother to answer their phone – their mail box is permanently full and I called Compact Appliance back.

Rene, at Compact Appliance was AWESOME!   She pulled some strings to get the matter handled through her company – sent me a return label and shipped out a replacement unit as soon as I reported FedEx had picked up the old one.

The new unit was DOA – Disappointed that I had somehow wound up with two defective units, I returned the Spin Dryer for a full refund.

Let me repeat, Compact Appliance was awesome, great customer service and I have no qualms about doing business with them again – I will not, however, knowingly purchase anything from Laundry Alternative, ever again, as their Customer Service is non-existent.

I still love my little Wonder Washer and continue to wash clothes with it – I am hand wringing the clothes until I can build my own spinner…

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13 thoughts on “WonderWasher and Spin Dryer”

  1. My experience was not the same as yours. I’ve had the Wonder Wash and Spin Dryer for four years now. I love the washer, and though I’ve searched for better options I find that this one seems to have better reviews AND cost less. I did have to learn how to properly load the dryer, but after I did I found that it has worked faithfully for me and drains my clothes well enough that they can be ready to put away in a few hours. I’m sorry you had a bad experience getting in touch with the Laundry Alternative crew. I had bought my items directly from the company, and when I had an issue with the dryer I got through and they took care of it immediately and with no hassle.

    I am looking for other options, not because of any problems with these items, but because my health has made many previously simple tasks daunting lately.

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    1. I totally agree with Wonder Washer being a gem – didn’t have good luck with the Spin Dryer AND I understand the need to meet current needs given current stamina – 🙂 We each do as best as we can, with what we have, and where we are at – thanks for reading this post and taking the time to share your experience/comment – may you meet new challenges gracefully and find what works for you – 🙂

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  2. Laundry Alternative Spin Dryer just stopped working. It is a trick to use it right and really is limited as its high rpm seems to destroy underwear and socks, which would benefit from hang drying anyway. Good for sturdier clothing like small towels and shorts. It really is not worth the trouble if you have a drying rack.

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    1. My thoughts, exactly, from years ago during my attempt to use! 🙂 I have graduated into RV size combo unit for winter, with washer only use in summer, coupled with close line – and now, found cool window blinds, that can be lowered to create drying racks – so, my next quest in outfitting my tiny home with tiny home thinking furniture/items! LOL – most of what I do, is always with eye towards “Can I build/maintain/replace, it myself, if I have only moi to depend upon?” and though in the early years after my divorce and stroke, it was a challenge, just to keep up with ‘daily life’ and ‘tight budget’, I’m questing, ever forward, into ‘think this is better option – no, wait, okay, let’s try (fill in blank), OOHHH! YES! This working! – – (few minutes, hours, weeks, months, later….) “Why not try (such and such? Think it might further streamline the process on so many fronts – – 🙂 Thanks for reading my old, old post – still amazed when folks visit it, (though I think I did post link in my initial review at supplier – but who reads back through the ‘review feed’ that far, nowadays! LOL)

      Thanks again for your visit, read and comment! Love it when I am visited by folks who are willing to share their experiences, too – just so more info for the consumer who wishes to be informed BEFORE purchasing, on whether it will work for their life, or not – – 🙂

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    1. I did, when the dryer died – the small cheapie one I had worked somewhat to do 1 t-shirt, or one pair of shorts, couldn’t do jeans/jean shorts/flannel shirts, etc. Worked great for delicate underthings! 🙂 I admit that my family purchased me an all-in-one ventless washer/dryer for Christmas 2013 and since neither my electricity bill, nor my water bill, have taken a hit by using it, I’ve rather put researching various non-powered washing options on the backburner! 🙂 However, I believe with some thinking and perhaps a 5-gallon bucket, a couple of gears and a handle, you might be able to fashion together a larger, more heavy duty type of ‘salad spinner’ to handle bigger items.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

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  3. Just used your picture and instructions to put mine together. You made it very easy for me! Plan on doing a load or two a week to keep from going to laundry mat every week. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Thanks for the details and introducing this washer. My place in northern New Mexico has no indoor plumbing and washing clothes has always meant a trip to town. I’d had spent a little time but not much looking into alternatives (besides the tub and scrub board I used). When I do move back to the farm this just might be the ticket. Mahalo, Dohn

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    1. I’m thinking a little patience and time could have netted me an old fashion ringer, instead of purchasing the spin dryer, but que sera, sera – live and learn! 🙂 I am, however, now keeping an eye out for one.

      I’m pleased with the job the indoor set has done – I don’t think it would take much in the way of a solar panel and battery set-up to power the spin dryer, but haven’t gotten that far yet! 🙂 You mentioned no indoor plumbing, and haven’t gotten back to your blog archives, so didn’t know if you’re off-grid, as well.

      As for the first choice of washers/spinners (like the first picture) – is what I plan on building for my outdoor/summer washing set-up – it’s on the list of projects this summer, so I’ll definitely post pics/the scoop, when I build it! I have all the supplies on hand except for the neoprene shell that you slide over the bucket while washing and remove to ‘spin dry’ – I haven’t priced that yet, but will include all the info in that future post.

      Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your laundry solutions! 🙂

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