This is a washing and wringing combo device. Please note the "Machine" part of this washer is mostly your body, arms and back, etc., so if it hurts to lift a bucket full of wet clothes and water, first ask a friend for help, or just stick with the electrical powered washer.
Total project cost $6, assuming you have a hammer, razor blade, and one nail. It's as easy as hammering a nail through plastic and takes less than a hour to complete.
Safety note: razor blades are sharp, dangerously sharp, always try to cut away from yourself. I suppose you should be careful with the hammer too.
Step 1: Materials
These are the base materials found at your local hardware store.
1: Bucket 5 gallon. $3 If you have a spare bucket laying around you can use it, I've seen what I put in my spare buckets and chose to buy a new one. There was a bright orange version of this bucket that I didn't get because I like white better and it was a dollar cheaper. You can also reuse a kitty litter bucket.
2: Good Lid. $2 That is the orange one. It came with a rubber gasket on the inside cover, very useful for keeping things water tight. The first washer I build used the cheap lid below and it leaked if you turned it upside down. The orange lid does leak no matter which way you turn it.
3: Cheap lid. $1 This the lid that came with cheaper white bucket I liked better, leaks like a sieve when upside down, but that's good because I used to make the wringer.
Step 2: Tools
Tools most handy people have laying around. If you don't have them you can borrow them from someone.
1: Hammer. Good for everything from building houses to making big rocks not so big, nuff said.
2: Razor blade knife. Once again handle with care.
3: Big nail. I just used the second biggest nail I had on the work bench, the biggest nail being a gutter nail which is about 7 inches long and can be used to hammer in smaller nails. Really any pointy object you can hold and hit with a hammer with confidence will work for this.
Step 3: Drainage Holes
This is where the human power comes in. If you have never swung a hammer before take a few low power practice swings to get the aim right, hitting your hand with a hammer does hurt and happens to the best of us, but practice makes perfect. For those hammer veterans out there, swing on.
When I did this step I used a piece of scrap wood underneath the plastic lid, because it doesn't take much force to punch through the plastic. You can use the nail removing "Claw" of the hammer to get the nail out after you got it in or you can just pull it out with your hand. You don't have to hammer the nail too far into the lid as your just making holes.
The idea is pretty simple, just fill the lid with holes except for about about 2 inches in the center. I used a poke evenly spaced holes around the outer edge and then a hole in between each previous ring of holes, skipping ever other in between hole as I got closer to the center. You can also make them a spiral or Fibonacci sequence if you like. The idea is to have plenty of little hole that water, but not clothes can fall through.
Step 4: Cutting the Lid
Safety tip: One last time for the record razor knives are sharp, I've got a scar halfway around my thumb to prove it. Please be careful not to cut in the direction of yourself or other easily cutable organisms. Cut to left, right, or away, but not towards yourself and your soft underbelly. Also note to keep the other hand out of blades path as well.
The way you cut through the plastic is to press down firmly on one spot, until the blade goes through and then slowly move it around the edge of the lid, turning it as needed. I used a scrap cardboard box under the lid to prevent cutting into the table underneath it.
You are looking to make your hole filled lid a circle of hole filled plastic roughly the diameter of the bottom of your bucket. That's the inside bottom not outside. You are looking to cut enough to fit the perforated plastic into the bucket, but not such much as clothes can easily fall out the gap in the side. The idea being when the wet clothes get pressed between the plastic lid and the bottom of the bucket the water gets squeezed out, thus wringing them. Note you can cut it the lid into other shapes to fit other shaped bucket, such as kitty litter buckets.
Step 5: The Finished Wringer
The Finished product. To test it, drop it into the bucket, if it hit the bottom and doesn't have a big gap around the outside it's good. if it doesn't fit into the bucket or gets caught in the middle of the bucket, cut more off the edge of the wringer. If there is a large gap, you'll know it's too large if clothes fall out the sides and don't get squished, use one or more of following steps. You can wring at an angle so that the gap is at the top so it's harder for the clothes to fall out. you can place a towel between the wet clothes and the wringer to fill the gap with towel or you can cut a new lid.
For those of you have never used a wringer before, it's a device that squeezes liquid out of clothes, it can be anything from two rolling pins, to two flat rocks. This wringer double the buckets usefulness as a washer and wringer, just like the spin cycle on an electric washing machine. After using this I'd think about using a stiffer lid than the cheapest one I could find, or even going fancy and cutting a circle from wood or metal, but this is done and I'm too lazy to improve it.
Step 6: Final Notes
Your body is the machine that powers this device, keep it healthy and it'll last you a lifetime.
To wash clothes place clothes in bucket. Fill with water, the amount depends on how fast and how much water the clothes can absorb before wet, general rule of thumb is you shouldn't need more than a half of the bucket, usually a quarter will do.
Add the detergent, you don't need a lot as this is small amount of laundry and if you used too much you have to do more than one rinse. If you plan on travel with this set up and are in the woods, please look for a biodegradable detergent as some can be toxic to plant and such. Also the detergent you use has the greatest effect on the smell and feel of your clothes. The first wash I did I used a little too much detergent and the clothes were a little itchy by the end of the day, detergent does that to my skin. Allergies to detergent should be avoided. You can swap out detergent for castile soap or any simple soap, note you may have to experiment to find what you like here as this is the biggest variable in your clothes washing.
After the water, clothes, detergent mix is in the bucket put the lid on tight and just move it around for a minute or two. You can shake it, roll it, flip it upside down every so often. I used a roll from side to side at an angle when I found out the cheap lid didn't hold water. i recommend at least a minute of labor with this but you can go for as long as you feel is needed.
Next dump the dirty water out, on some thirsty plants if you know how to use graywater or down the drain. Then fill with clean water for a rinse. repeating the above motion or trying a new one, again for about a minute is fine. You can repeat the rinse if you think you clothes feel soapy, but the best way to fix that is to use less soap next time around.
Dump the rinse water and put the wringer over your wet clothes. You want to squeeze the water out. here are some ways to do it: put bucket again tree, rock, lumberjack any sturdy surface and push with your hands on wringer. You want to angle the bucket down so the water drains out, you may get wet. You can take a short thick stick and put on the ground with the wringer on the bottom sit on the bucket to get a nice squeeze, note this may require feats of balance and is not for the faint of heart. Lastly and my preferred method is to lay on you back place you relatively clean bare feet in the bucket on the wringer and the pull the bucket with your hands and push with your feet, this will get you wet and you can pull the handle off, but the look of people watching what your doing is priceless.
If you don't like washing your clothes this way, then i just tricked you into buying a sweet bucket, which you can use for a seat or to store things in a rafting trip. I use it for a 24hour bag, in case of emergencies.
I will be uploading a video of the actual washing process soon. Thank you for reading my Instructable. It's my first.
Easter eggs: The "nail" used in the pictures is actually a screw. Those are my girlfriends feet in the tool picture, she took all the pictures.