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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    83 Discussions


    3 years ago on Introduction

    In "Travels with Charlie" Ernest Hemingway detailed a similar method, but he attached used bungie cords attached to the tub , mounted on his vehicle to use its motion to agitate the laundry.

    1 reply
    doo da doDrChill

    Reply 2 years ago

    Not sure when bungy cord started, but for his time he was thinking outside the box.

    doo da dodoo da do

    Reply 2 years ago

    land, is when you get to your destination.

    doo da dodoo da do

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    When you get to the motel, for your vacation.
    They bounce around in the container while You travel.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Imagine my relief when I read the article as when I had only read the title I could not for the life of me understand why anyone would need a machine to 'wash their hands'.

    Does anyone just beat them washing on a flat rock any longer?

    3 replies

    I know this whole thing is kind of a joke but I'm going to answer seriously - I have actually seen people washing clothes by beating them on a flat rock. When I was a student I followed a professor to the Philippines on her annual field research trip; we were in the jungle for a few weeks. Some of the local village people visited us out of curiosity and some women offered to wash our clothes for a few pesos. That's kind of how they did it with no tubs or brushes. Not _quite_ by beating but by laying part of the item on the rock and using the other half to scrub the laid-flat part.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Yes. They beat the hell on the dirt out of those dirty clothes.

    The Philippine's village people also has bath-tubs... a different kind of bath-tub.

    Well, its more spelled as bat-tab as in BAT for "batya" (big circular basin to contain water) and TAB for "tabo" (plastic dipper much like water pitcher to get water and pour over yourself to rinse out the soapsuds on your body).


    3 years ago on Introduction

    This is interesting. When I was in the Army in Viet Nam, we would put dirty clothes and soapy water in a large container and strap it in the back of our jeep and drive. When we thought the clothes were clean we would stop and change to clear water to rinse. Somwtimes it took a couple of times in the rinse cycle. Thom,

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Father was in the Navy during Viet Nam (I stuck with Army...I wasn't born with gills thank you), he used to tell me they would tie them to rope, and toss off side of ship & drag through the ocean for "a while" (in dad-speak, that could be 30 minutes or 8 hours). Always interesting to see what a little ingenuity can produce LOL

    (PS - Thank you for your sevice)