Scrubbing your dirty cloth

by andrewodom on January 10, 2012 · 19 comments


Laundering involves beating and scrubbing dirty cloth. End of story.

It is hard work even with manufactured aids like washboards and soap to help. Clothes washer technology developed as a way to reduce the drudgery of this scrubbing and rubbing process by providing an open basin or sealed container with paddles or fingers to automatically agitate the clothing. The first English patent under the category of Washing and Wringing Machines was issued in 1691. A drawing of an early washing machine appeared in the January 1752 issue of “The Gentlemen’s Magazine,” a British publication. In Germany, Jacob Christian Schäffer’s washing machine design was published in 1767. In 1782 Henry Sidgier was issued a British patent for a rotating drum washer, and in the 1790s Edward Beetham sold numerous “patent washing mills” in England. In 1862, a patented “compound rotary washing machine, with rollers for wringing or mangling” was shown at the 1862 London Exhibition, done by Richard Lansdale of Pendleton, Manchester. And the history just continues.

By 1940, 60% of the 25,000,000 wired homes in the United States had an electric washing machine. Many of these machines featured a power wringer, although built-in spin dryers were not uncommon. Bendix introduced the first automatic washing machine in 1937, having applied for a patent in the same year. In appearance and mechanical detail, this first machine is not unlike the front loading automatic washers produced today. Although it included many of the today’s basic features, the machine lacked any drum suspension and therefore had to be anchored to the floor to prevent “walking”. And the history just continues.

But I digress…..

So why do I even mention all of this? I mention it because as any couple of family prepares to transition into a tiny house they certainly have the one conversation that is perhaps the most difficult. Do we make room for a washer and dryer? How can we? Won’t it use too much electricity? They take up too much room!

In fact, upon closer inspection one will notice that very few – if any – examples of tiny houses and tiny house trailers specifically found in a Google search will make mention or show a washer and dryer. Is it not essential though? Have we not grown up in a society where clean clothes and convenience is our right! Have we not fought for ever home to have a washer and dryer as a sort of liberation of women in the home? I think so!

But for us it never seemed much of an issue. For nearly two years now we have worked on a steady rotation of “borrowing” laundry facilities from various people for a small amount of money that provides us with a means to wash and provides them with an offset to their water bill. In emergencies we have either gone to a laundromat or hand washed. Come to think of it, we actually don’t mind handwashing. And air drying. In fact, I personally became enamored with life sans dryer when I came across Project Laundry List.

Our thought process has been altered as of late though. Upon the birth of our daughter and our decision to cloth diaper we have begun thinking about some sort of hand crank washer with air dry or even a washer/dryer combo unit. With anywhere from 8-13 diapers a day we can’t truly keep up with demand by hand washing and relying on cool, winter air for drying. Perhaps the summer would be much different. But we have to think of all seasons now.

Which is where this post comes in. What washer and dryer system works best in the tiny house scenario? What is overpriced? What underperforms? What is fad? What is archaic? What do you use? What do you think?

In our next post to come at week’s end we are going to review or at least research a few options that come from your comments (either here on the blog or on our Facebook page) and try to make some decision as to what may work best for us. So do let us know. What do you think about washing and drying for our family of 3 in our tiny house trailer?

 


Washing machine history courtesy of Wikipedia

  • bevinnc

    Andrew, I loved this post! It brought back  memories of me helping my Grandma do clothes with her wringer washer and hanging clothes on the line…to this day I love hanging my clothes out on the line. Nothing smells better and reminds me of my Grandma like bed sheets hung out on the line. I have been thinking about this alot of late. And It took me back to my first washer. It wasn’t automatic. It was a  compact and had a washer drum with lid and then a spinner drum with lid. I loved it and its a step up from the old wringer washer. It was good for small loads. One pair of jeans. Or a weeks worth of underclothes. It would not do blankets. but you could do your bed sheets one at a time. I googled it and this is the modern version that you can still purchase, it’s called a Thompson X11-1 Twin Tub Washing Machine . I loved this washer. And it took very little space. I think you could even put it under a counter. The bottom picture is of one that is even smaller than the top one. Presently this comes from England. The top one  is avaliable for around $380. The bottom one , is the Tec Take and goes for around $150.  If interested you may beable to contact the company and see where you get get it in the states. There are also the  counter top hand spinner washers avaliable like the Wonderwash. You can also go to Applianceconnection.com for a look at all compact appliances. I think I will go for the Thompson X-11. At least that is my choice at the moment. 

    • anotherkindofdrew

      I like the Thompson indeed. I do want something we can use our sink drain with rather than having to run another drain line. The Thompson looks to do that. I can’t seem to find a distributor stateside though and I can only imagine what shipping from the EU is. 

      We’ll be covering the Wonderwash tomorrow as a lot of folks seem to have one but I have heard nothing as to how it actually works. I contacted the company to see about a product review but I have heard nothing in response. 

      As always, thank you so much for posting and being part of the r(E)volution!

  • Bthm63

    I also used cloth diapers on my babies and used an old wringer washer and clothesline to do the job.  It worked fine, but we weren’t living in a Tiny Home.  During the winter, we used wooden racks by the old Glenwood Oak kitchen range wood stove to dry the wet laundry and unless you live in a warm climate and can use a clothes line, I realize that there simply isn’t room to dry a family’s wet laundry in a Tiny House…. unless your rafter area is open and you can suspend clothes lines up there.

    Another option are the washer/dryer combos; I used one almost daily for 2 years and they do work great.  They are big enough to wash a quilt so they have plenty of capacity and they spin cycle leaves the clothes barely damp so they dry quickly.  I was able to dry clothing on a clothes line almost 100% of the time, but did use the dryer cycle when I needed something in a hurry.  The dryer cycle takes a long time and involves a lot of babysitting the laundry because you can only dry small amounts of clothing and it must be folded before it is inserted into the machine for 30 minutes, refolded to expose new damp sides and re-inserted for 30 minutes until dry.  You can see why I opted for the clothesline!

    • anotherkindofdrew

      We tend to go for the clothesline as well but in winter months we do have to be somewhat practical. Hey, in this world time is all we do have! HAHAHAH. So babysitting the dryer isn’t all that bad. Our tiny house trailer will have a tub/shower combo though so we can hang things over the tub with one of those retractable clotheslines. It should dry within a day or so provided we give ‘em a good shake first!

      What kind of combo unit did you have? Do you remember?

      • Bthm63

        We had a Splendide 1000 and it was about 10 years old and still chugged along like a champ!  They are expensive but do go on sale at places like Camper’s World fairly frequently.  There are other brands that are cheaper (and more expensive!) but I’ve never tried them.

    • Joe3

      Good to know about the combination machines, I frequently see them in higher priced RVs. Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Annie-Blair/1415542022 Annie Blair

    Oh Drew, there IS a page, on Compact Appliances that features a hand crank and other options for the tiny. I saw this originally IN a tiny house where the combo washer/dryer was installed. Here is the link for both:
    http://www.compactappliance.com/Laundry/Appliances-Laundry,default,sc.html?psortb1=category-pos_Appliances-Laundry&mtcpromotion=cj 

    • http://www.tinyrevolution.us anotherkindofdrew

      Thank you for the links Annie. I have looked at the Haier multiple times. There are quite a few reviews on it but they range from disgusting waste of money to the combo to end all combos. I am not sure what to believe and I wish I could find someone that has some real experience with this unit. The size is perfect for us but I don’t want it to die after a year or so.

    • http://www.thisluminouslife.wordpress.com/ Laura N.

      I like this! I also love my Wonder Wash. I find that it does what I need it to do, although sometimes some stains stay in a little more than if I threw them in the machine. I’m not sure if this will be a constant issue with diapers.

  • Kevin

    I think if I were short of space, I would just get a good washer.  I belong to a make your own diapers group, and they have nothing but complaints about water saver models.  You just can’t soak the diapers like you need.  I have a front loader, and it is great for normal laundry, but I have few enough pet diapers, it is easier to wash them by hand.  When using a Laundromat, the washers don’t seem to do a good job of getting your clothes clean, but the dryers are superb.  You could dry a full load of clothes generally in less then fifteen minutes, for about a quarter in my experience.  During the warmer months you could line dry, and then just use the laundromat when too cold, or for drying diapers, which take a while to dry if the weather conditions aren’t perfect.  Windy days dry faster then just warm days too in my experience.  

    • http://www.tinyrevolution.us anotherkindofdrew

      Thank you Kevin for adding those thoughts. I guess I should have mentioned that diapers aren’t my largest concern. Because we live on a micro-farm I have dungarees, overalls, and even brushcutter coveralls that often need washing (often as in at least every other wear or so due to dung, smell, etc). Our laundromat is about 25 minutes away so we really have to make the drive count. 

  • http://twitter.com/ethanwaldman Ethan Waldman

    While laundry is an integral part of my life, I don’t want it to be an integral part of my tiny house. To me, laundry machines are one of the things you can share with your “host” family or just do at the Laundromat. I’d much rather use my under-counter space in my Fencl to upgrade to a range with an oven (instead of the drop in stovetop) and storage for food than a washer/dryer.  (or just washer).   

    • http://www.tinyrevolution.us anotherkindofdrew

      Allow me to school you for a second Ethan on the “host family” situation. While you may think 3 pair of pants and a shirt if a full load the family sponsoring the water, the noise of the machines, and you coming and going, may not. It is one thing that may become a point of dissension. The guidelines have to be very clear. I understand what you mean about you not wanting laundry to take up real estate in your tiny house. However, it is something you have to consider should you move to a place that is not near a laundromat. At least we are having to as we live rurally. 

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  • http://profiles.google.com/minkeebabygifts Minkee Baby Gifts

    Hi!  I just found you!  Where have you two been all my life :-) 
    I have a tiny house, and my washer and dryer are the only appliances we have here.  I have lived in many situations, with and without, but I LOVE having my machines!   My house may not be as small as yours, though.  It is 10 x 32. 

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    Well, my profile did not come out as I wanted….I am at http://www.320squarefoothome.com

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