Instructables
Picture of How to Do Your Laundry for Free.
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Sustainable and Legal Grey-water recycling.

Need a washing machine so that you don't have to go to the laundry mat and waste a bunch of money, time and water just so you can have some clean clothes?
The problem is that your place may not have the proper hookups, and you may not have the space available or the money for a washing machine.
The solution come very simply through a shift in perspective, by viewing the washing machine not a major appliance, but as a really heavy sprinkler.
You can do this in an apartment, a rental house, a duplex, any place.

You'll temporarily need:
a dolly (appliance dolly or hand truck)
a strap
a truck (or a friend with a truck)

And permanently need:
a garden hose
an extension cord
a washing machine (we'll cover how to get one for free in the next step)

I say this is for free, but you still have to pay for detergent, water and electricity. If you were going to water your yard anyways, then your basically getting free use of the water for your clothes. They sell the biodegradable detergent in most supermarkets, you just have to look extra hard for it.
 
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Step 1: Finding a Washing Machine

Picture of Finding a Washing Machine
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First you'll need to find a washing machine. People throw away perfectly good washing machines all the time. Ask your friends, check Craigslist, and keep an eye peeled while cruising around your neighborhood. Usually these washing machines are old and don't match their new appliances or there's a small leak that gets them kicked to the curb, but your putting this outside, so a small leak won't matter. Also, the most common thing to fail on a washing machine is the solenoid valve that lets water in, this is a really simple thing to replace and to salvage from dead washing machine. Washing machines fair really well outside. So, just because ones been sitting out for a while doesn't mean it no good. You'll just have to clean out leaves from the inside.

Anytime I've need a washing machine, my friends have come through with one they needed to get rid of. The one pictured here had a problem where it would leak a little while filling, which made it a perfect candidate, since it couldn't be used inside anymore. I have since moved and been given another machine. Also, I found three more in the back yard of my new place.
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LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Not totally free, but really cheap! I'm going to be building a solar dryer sometime soon, this would be the perfect addition for it.
PKM LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Building a solar dryer? I have a solar powered dryer in my back garden, it's called a "clothes line". I can see it through the solar powered transparent wall lighting units or "windows", standing in the middle of the solar powered modular oxygen regeneration and water transpiration facility or "grass". :P I shouldn't mock, I was told off for reinventing wheels all the time as a student, but are you actually building a solar powered dryer?
LinuxH4x0r PKM6 years ago
Actually I want to build a solar powered dryer for the winter and so that the clothes come out tumbled and soft. If you use a dryer you doun't have to iron as much either. Right now we use a rope, but I think it would be nicer to have a dryer once we move out of here (a little over a week form now!)

LinuxH4, did you ever build that dryer? would love to hear more about it.

I likely live a lot farther north than you . I remember my mom hanging clothes out to dry when the thermometer was at 0 fahrenheit. The cloths still dried, trhen when they were dry the wind flopped them around. In winter you can tell when they are dry because they quit looking like plywood cutouts of clothing.
I used to live in Minnesota, Now I'm in New Mexico. We did the same thing sometimes
Grey_Wolfe PKM6 years ago
You beat me to it. lol Was thinking the same thing.
shancre2 years ago
Even more cheap than all this and no risk of complaints is......

1. old but clean paint bucket 5-10gallon
2. brand new toilet pluger
3. your choice of detergent, though I find soapnuts do the job well

then
1.cut a hole in the jar lid
2. put the water and detergent in
3. agitate a bit then put the clothes in
4. really agitate the clothes them with the plunger, remember the hole you made in the lid yo can use the plunger through it

rinse and repeat
hokti.663 years ago
This is so cool and I'm going to see if my boyfriend will consider trying it out. Thanks!
richarpo4 years ago
Isn't normal bleach biodegradable?
Faynilla4 years ago
i love the idea behind this however. it is an incredibly bad idea to hook it up to an extension cord. not to mention a fire hazard. i will try to persuade my husband to let me try this though and ill get my dad ot hook up an outdoor plug. thanks for sharing
Hair4 years ago
actually kinda nifty...
pechka5 years ago
A low-tech washer can be made by lashing a big tub/plastic trashcan w/perfectly-sealable lid to the back of your car, using the bumper as a partial floor/ lashing point. The agitation is provided by driving. Stop every so often (depending on what you're washing) to dump the water/start the rinse cycle. (I first heard of this in The People's Guide to Mexico, by Carl Franz.) I like your instructable, Robhybrid, but I hate to think of how many living creatures that I'd likely electrocute if I tried it....
If cost is an issue, you might not have a car, nor the money for the gas to run it.  The tight fitting bucket could be agitated in other ways like dragging it on a bike trailer over a bumpy road, perhaps.
luluspice5 years ago
i love  your instructable washing machine idea. another great idea for a dead washing machine is to remove the tub/bucket then use it as a fire pit. the holes let oxygen in. remember to comply with local burn issues in your area.
DropScience5 years ago
this uses power and water from the house, how exactly is that free?  misleading title.
robhybrid (author)  DropScience5 years ago
When I lived at that apartment water and power included in the rent. So, it was free.

I wrote this instructable for people who live in apartments or can't have a laundry machine in their home. If you have to use the laundry-mat every time you wash your clothes it's a huge expense. Washing machine hookups are the main amenity that decides the rent value of an apartment. I just wanted to explain how you could make your own on the cheap.
Grey_Wolfe6 years ago
Does the brick keep your central air from blowing away? lol
robhybrid (author)  Grey_Wolfe6 years ago
Actually, it keeps the tarp from blowing away. (not pictured)
The tarp is pictured just to the right of the plywood. :)
awesome, thanks.
shooby6 years ago
I guess I'm not sure what the point of this is. It uses as much energy an resources as a washing machine inside, running on a cold cycle. Disposal of washing machine water doesn't cost anything, so how is this cheaper? The only way I can think of is if you consider that indoor space costs more than outdoor space to rent/buy, so you're trading approximately 4 sq feet of indoor space for the same area of outdoor space. Please explain. Well written instructable, whether or not I agree ultimately with what you did.
robhybrid (author)  shooby6 years ago
It's cheaper because I didn't pay for the washing machine. I don't pay higher rent for a place with washer dryer hookups. I also get free water for my garden. I DO have to pay for disposing the water because the city charges you sewage for every gallon you use regardless of how you use it. I save the energy used to heat water, and the energy used in a dryer, which is actually more energy than it takes to run the washer. If you reuse an abandoned machine your also conserve the energy and resources consumed in constructing and disposing of the machine.
Wow, charged for sewage? One thing I would caution you about, is that obviously washing machines aren't meant to be outside. While you're skipping out on sewage payments, you could be responsible for chemicals leaching into the ground, due the the washing machine's exposure to the elements.
sideways shooby5 years ago
My town is like robhybrid's. I get charged a sewage fee for every gallon that comes thru the tap, whether it actually goes down the drain or not. Very few people in my town water anything outdoors in the summer. Too expensive. Lots of dead brown yards during most of the summer. My washer is in the basement. I'd like to save the greywater for outdoors, but a pump is too expensive and messing around hauling buckets would take forever. I'll live with dead grass :-)
I agree that it needs to, at the very least, be under some sort of cover. But he isn't saving on sewage fees. They don't measure the amount of drainage, it actually is figured our by taking an average measurement of water usage (usually during winter), then they charge you according to that. I don't know of any place that figures out sewage each month, but I'm sure some places do.
actually, they are saving costs of water *and* sewage charges. if they were to be letting the water go down the drain from the washer, then they'd have to use new water from the hose to water the garden. this way, there's no *additional* water usage for the garden (just whatever water they were already using for the laundry). and even if it weren't to save the user any money, it's the right thing to do! reducing the volume of material flowing into the sewers is a good thing. and if everyone did it, maybe costs for the city would even decrease?
I think you can build a small shed for it. Also,the sewage payment is probably the same number every time.
Yeah, that's what I thought. Obviously sewage isn't free, but can anyone who's reading this, even outside of the US, say that they have a monthly sewage charge?
nehmah shooby6 years ago
We've lived in 4 states and 6 cities over 40+ years; we paid sewage fees in all. Even renters pay a sewage fee. It has been as high as 50% of the water bill use. So, if you paid $50 for water your sewage was $25. That was the highest rate we ever paid.
Btw, almost everyone pays for sewage, though it's usually set as either a surcharge on your water bill or part of trash.
sugarego shooby5 years ago
it's actually not that weird if you think about it. the water that gets piped into your house is clean, yes? well, it costs money to clean it. much of the water you drink from the tap (depending of course, on where you live) is recycled from sewage. cleaning the water that the city collects from your drain pipes is more expensive than cleaning water obtained from the ground or from rivers and lakes. where i live (los angeles), it really only rains during the winter (and then it rains quite a bit). so people don't need to water the garden very often in winter. they measure your water usage in the winter to see how much of the water you use is likely going down the drain. if your water usage rises in summer to use for plants, they still charge you based on what you used the previous winter. on my water bill, i was amazed at how cheap the cost per HCF (hundred cubic feet) of water was (a few dollars). but then i saw this SSC charge on there that was at least 3x as high as my water bill. that's the sewer service charge.
robhybrid (author)  shooby6 years ago
Washing machines last really well outside. Their paint is super durable, and the switches are usually put in a way that the they won't get damaged by the rain. I've taken apart plenty of washing machines, and there's nothing inside that could leach into the ground. The motor used a heavy grease; there's no oil like in a refrigerator. The only problem, as I said, is that they fill up with dead leaves and mud. It's basically like a sink. Anything that lands on it will end up inside when it rains. You need to keep it covered with a tarp or something.
Also, if there's water in the parts and it freezes... you'll be looking for a "new" free washing machine. This has happened to me a few times in an outdoor laundry room sort of setup. Nice instructable though! :)
robhybrid (author)  lalalaux5 years ago
I live in Texas. Maybe this won't work up North. I didn't consider that.
mjarthur shooby6 years ago
i liked this instructable, it would be more accurate to say free yard watering while doing laundry rather than free clothes washing though...
Derin5 years ago
I think this should be renamed "Outside Laundry While Gardening Cleanly".Other than that,I liked the Instructable.
anthro6 years ago
I am so happy to see this! I am getting and idea right now to get a load together! :o)
Grey_Wolfe6 years ago
Shouldn't this be called "Free Irrigation While Doing Your Laundry with Your Free Washing Machine" ? lol
chuckr446 years ago
You don't need a voltage test. I been shocked many times and don't got no dain bramage.
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