So lets learn how to make one!
1x 5 gallon (or larger) bucket to serve as your tank. $3
1x 10 foot length of pvc pipe (I used 1” because it offers the best strength to cost ratio) $3
4x 90 degree elbows (the same size as your pipe) $3
1x Tee fitting $1
Total cost: Around $10.
Some way to cut the pvc pipe, a pvc wire saw works great and they are super cheap.
Step 1: The Agitator
Cut your PVC pipe into a single 3 foot section, two 1 foot sections, and two 3 inch sections.
Attach the 1 foot sections to a 90 degree elbow.
Attach the second elbow, facing opposite the first at the end of the pipe.
Attach the 3 foot section to the open end of the second elbow and a Tee fitting to the other end of the pipe.
Attach the three inch sections to the open ends of the Tee, with elbows set at an angle on them.
If you cut your pipe straight, you can press it into the elbows with all of your weight and you will not need a pvc glue, it is terrible for the environment anyways. Also, by doing this you can also take it apart at a later date. (like if you decide to add handles to reduce friction on your hands.)
Step 2: The Bucket
The 5 gallon bucket can do one pair of pants, two shirts, boxers and two socks perfectly. It can also do two pairs of pants, or four shirts, or two towels and some socks in a load, and it only takes five minutes to agitate and clean, then you set it aside while you agitate the other loads you have. Wring out your washed loads and fill the bucket with clean water. If you have several loads you can put the bucket under the faucet so the water is always cycling while you rinse your loads.
The agitation process isn't complicated, the basic idea is to use the water, surfactants (from the detergent),the agitator, and the clothes themselves to pull the dirt out of the clothes and into suspension with the water
My favorite technique is to spin it with a plunging motion two turns in one direction, then reversing and spinning it two turns in the other direction.
It is usually easier to load half of your load below the agitator, and half above it.
Step 3: The Eco Detergent!
You can make your own like we do at Project Upcycle!
No added fragrances, no phosphates, no septic mauling fillers. It's still caustic and like everything will do significant damage to the environment if it is pumped into our rivers. So go easy on the detergent at first, build up until you find the spoonful that gets the clean you like, but doesn't use too much. Using more detergent means more water needs to be used to rinse them out. Unless you have a grey water reclamation system you don't want to be just sending all of that water down the drain!