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Mechanical washing machine. Answered

I work for a charity with Aboriginal Australians in the remote outback of Australia, a place called Arnhem land, it is worth a google. People need washing machines, they buy them, they break , even with warranty cover, they can not be fixed as no service men will come here to service them, we are too remote. 
Houses here have about 20 people living in them, there is no work here and people live on small government payments which are not enough to cover daily expenses. Due to the difficulty in accquiring and maintaining a working washing machine, health issues such as Crusted Scabies have taken hold here, and cause much suffering. We can't erradicate the disease here without getting working washing machines.
We need a solution, an easy to use, easy to fix washing machine. No electronics. Cold water only is fine. Possibly even hand operated, or wind operated (or other)  I found one which is a plastic  tub which turns with a handle and stands on two feet.  However the construction too flimsy, the tub not big enough for a bed sheet, it was green though. Didn't use electric power.
Anyone have any ideas? Know any other sites I could post on to get ideas? Thanks : )


Wind powered and a home made compressor, use low pressure air and just bubble the water in, It will swirl the water and wash the clothes. You only need 2 psi to do that.

This might sound crazy but a big indestructible washing machine = concrete mixer
cant be any worse than a wonder washing machine shown here.

I remember that my husband told me he seen a washing machine powered by a bike...and people just pedal when needed! But I dont know how easy is to have a bike over there...

It seems scabies can also be contained by sealing in plastic bags

Ehow says contain in plastic for 2 weeks.

I am sorry for the suffering.
I don't know that scabies prevention requires a washing machine. It does require hot water and borax
I have gone on minimalist kicks in the summer and have washed my clothes by hand with borax power as suggested in the link below . It doesn't work well with dress clothes, meaning they are sanitary, but look kind of dingy. But works the method is OK with work clothes, shorts, socks , and more darkly colored dockers and polos.
Wife never tried it
I used a mop wringer
Other people have used commercial salad spinners.

Commercial salad spinners are expensive ( around 150); ; fruit presses, which seem to be sturdier run some more. . But they can be built by hand

Here is the link to the scabies prevention I saw

I worked at a shelter once and we boiled everything in washtubs because of lice . No fun.

But the key is not agitation; it is chemicals and extraction.

Like this idea, wish i could get one

One technique I read about is to load a 5 gallon bucket with clothes, water, detergent. Snap the lid on tight, and drive around with it in the back of the car.

Yes, I realize this presupposes ownership of a car, but maybe the bucket can be moved in some other way. Tie rope around it basket style so it can be suspended from ropes such that it rotates on a horizontal axis...

I have seen wash machines driven by bicycles. I don't know details. I can probably make inquiries of people who have made em.

People need washing machines?

How have these Aboriginal Australians being coping without machines for thousands of years?
What exactly is the problem that amounts to people needing machines?
Do they also need driers, microwave-ovens, iPads, SatNav, TV, PC, air-con' etc?


It looks as though the weather is fairly windy?

If folk don't mind a centralised laundry, they could hook up one of those well-pump windmills to a crank that oscillates the central spindle of a top-loading washing machine.

Thank you for your suggestion, a centralised laundry could work well in some of the larger more settled communities. I will google well pump windmill. Thank you.
The are also smaller groups who travel nomadically, hunting seasonal foods and living closer to their tradtional life on their own tradtional lands, the smaller portable Gira Dora machine could be beneficial for them.
It's great to get the mix of helpful feedback. : )


5 years ago

Why cant the clothes be washed by hand like people did before washing machines?

Hand washing clothes is hard work, one of the main struggles we have in explaining the need for washing all clothes bedsheets and household fabrics (which is a lot of hard work all at once) when treating for the scabies mites, is that we don't speak the language. though I am trying learning a word every day, unlike in Peru or other spanish speaking countries, where there are centuries of language translation resources. There is little in the way of dictionaries or language resources here. The Yolngu speaking people of Arnhem land have only had any real contact with the dominant Australian culture since a mine opened on their land in the 60's. There is not a history of language of translation yet, much linguistic analysis needs to be done.
An interesting fact, the Yolngu lodged a petition to stop the mine and lost it was the first land rights case in Australia. It wasn't until the 60's where Aboriginal Australians legally came to be seen as people, until then they were legally classed as animals. As I said, the area and Yolngu people are worth a google. Hope this has been helpful : )

Alex Cabunoc says:
"So much time, energy, and resources are used for basic water chores like cooking and cleaning. It leaves little time for other activities that might help one get out of poverty."

Additionally the GiraDora website explains that use of a mechanical washing machine removes more water than hand wringing. The advantages? Reduces tenosynovitis (from wringing clothes), back pain, respiratory problems (the clothes are spun dried in the washer after draining the water, more water is removed so they dry quicker), water consumption (spin drying leads to more reclaimed water).

Is this the "plastic tub" version you found? It's awfully small, and the thin plastic doesn't look particularly strong.

I tried a search for manual washing machine, and there were a couple of other options, similarly small. There was a picture of a nice bicycle-powered version, but no technical details :-/

Do either of the bicycle washing machines here on I'bles fit your bill?

yes that was the plastic tub version I found thanks.

Thanks, they look fun, I think the kids would like these

Thank you this is really helpful and interesting, I appreciate the feedback and help. : )