Introduction: Hand Washing Machine

This is a cheap, green and easy-to-use hand washing machine.

As it only uses hand power it can be used outside as well as inside. Just think of the fun you can have doing your washing by hand on your next survival trip! The washing machine also doubles as a floating, waterproof carry-all for canoe trips and other situations where you want to keep the water outside of the machine instead of inside.

What you need:

  • 1 plastic waterproof tub (I used a Curtec 10 litre, dia 27,4 cm, height 23,9 cm, costs about 23 Euros)

The hand washing machine has a 8-step program:

  1. Detergent
  2. Fill
  3. Clothing
  4. Wash
  5. Drain
  6. Rinse (can be repeated)
  7. Spin
  8. Dry

Step 1: Detergent

Add detergent, the pink stuff seems to work for me.

Step 2: Fill

Choose a program, then fill with water, according to the program. My HWM only has a cold program, but that's fine with me, so I fill it with cold water. Leave some space for the clothes and some air (you'll see why later).

Step 3: Clothing

Here you add the clothing. Make sure they have enough space to move around, as movement cleans. I use this HWM for my cycling clothes, which don't always take well to to a mechanical washing machine.

Step 4: Wash

Now grab those handles and shake vigorously. If you have chosen a program with soak, let the clothes sit for a while after the first shakes, then shake again some.

Ensure that you shake in ways that make the clothes rotate, so that each item gets a chance to be on top. That way the clothes clean evenly. I find that rotating my hips in sync with the HWM helps. Opposable thumbs help here too.

Step 5: Drain

After the wash step is complete (warning: don't open the HWM while the wash step is still running!), open the HWM and drain the water into an appropriate waste water receptacle. To be extra green, even when using pink detergent, use the water on the garden, or fill the toilet cistern with it.

Step 6: Rinse

Fill the tub with fresh water, and using the same motion as the wash cycle, ensure that all detergent is flushed out. Drain the water, of course this water is even better for recycling as it's cleaner.

Repeat this step at least once for the better results. To save having to use fabric softener, leaving minor traces of detergent will keep your clothes felling soft (although maybe not 100% clean).

Step 7: Spin

Option 1: Don't spin. Use this option if you live in a very dry place, or your clothes can't take the spin.

Option 2: Put your newly cleaned clothes in an automatic washing machine and spin dry them, be careful not to choose too high a spin for delicates.

Option 3: Note: I have not tried this, but you're welcome to, and let me know how it went. Buy a second tub and drill holes in the bottom, then with the clothes in the tub, grab one handle in one hand and spin violently around. This is best only done in the outside program, otherwise the walls get wet. If you do this, please choose the correct tub before the next washing cycle, getting them mixed up will give mixed results.

Step 8: Dry

Hang your clothes up to dry.

This tub is ideal as a HWM as it has a very watertight seal, and is completely smooth on the inside, preventing any snags in your clothes while you gyrate during the wash cycle. And if you are doing the washing in a canoe and it drops into the water, it will float as long as you've left some air in the tub (which is recommended for this reason).

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