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:
(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:
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 – –
Not hard at all – Numbers relate to pictured parts.
- 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.
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.
Slow going – so I put together the drying rack while waiting for it to drain.
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!
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:
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
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.
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.
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…