By Karina | August 20, 2007
In April, I learned about a manual washing machine called the Wonder Wash . After thinking about it for a while, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. The Wonder Wash is a pressurized cylinder that you fill with your clothes and soapy water and then crank for 2 minutes. The pressure forces the soapy water through your clothes to clean it throughly. After the 2 minutes of cranking, the water is drained off, and the clothes are rinsed with clean water, wrung, and then hanged to dry.
After using the wonder wash a few times, I went ahead and crunched the numbers. The wonder wash will wash about 1/2 of a regular (conventional) washing machine. I use 6 quarts of water to wash and then I rinse twice, for a total of 18 quarts of water per 1/2 load, or 36 quarts of water per load (9 gallons). As the average washing machine uses 55 gallons of water (source), I calculate that I’m using roughly 16% of the water required by a conventional washing machine.
The first thing that surprised me about the wonder wash is how little soap I had to use. The instructions tell you to use 4 tablespoons of soap for 1 full load. I did that the first time, but I just didn’t think I was getting all the soap residue out. One of the neat things about the wonder wash is that you can see how clean the rinse water is as it leaves the washer. So I’ve reduced the quantity of soap to about 1 1/2 Tb and it’s nearly clean water after rinsing the second time. Another neat thing is that you can capture the waste water easily and use it to water your plants. My window boxes have never been so happy!
The next thing that surprised me was how incredibly wet clothes were after washing with no spin cycle to really wring them out. The first few washes I did took several days to dry – so I went back to the vendor’s webpage and did some justification with arithmetic, and ended up purchasing their spin “dryer” – which is essentially a centrifuge that spins the clothes damp so they can be hung to dry quickly.
Now, y’all know me: I wanted to make sure I’d still be making an efficient choice. After considering that a conventional dryer uses 5000 watts, and assuming it will take about 40 min. for a load to dry, than a conventional dryer uses 3.33 kWh per load. The mini dryer will hold about 1/2 of the clothes from the wonder wash, for a total of 4 loads required from the mini dryer. The mini dryer uses 82 watts which means 4 loads will require 328 watts, and assuming a general time of 3 minutes per load of spin time, the mini dryer uses a total of 0.0656 kWh to dry the clothes. If you compare the energy requirement of the mini-dryer (0.0656 kWh) to that of the conventional dryer (3.33 kWh) the mini-dryer uses only 2% of the electricity demanded by the conventional dryer. And that’s not even considering the additional energy saved by avoiding the conventional washer!
So now that I’ve got all the gadgets, I generally wash clothes once a week or so. It takes about 45 min. to do 2 loads in the wonder wash soup-to-nuts, including drying and hanging. The plastic body of the wonder wash is a little rickety so I don’t use it for heavy things like towels or jeans — those I will wash in the washing machine in my building basement. But I will say, even though I’m doing 45 min. of labor washing my clothes, I am so happy to not have to go down to the basement to do my wash.
- a review from about.com
- Treehugger review of the wonder wash and the spin dryer.
- The incredibly cool and gadgety drying rack of my dreams. Also here.
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