Back in April, I’d published an article called Will this Detergent turn my Greywater a Lighter Shade of Gray? which, among other things, declared a commitment to traditional hand washing of laundry, as one means of extreme energy and water conservation. I’d also subsequently published Earth Day 2012: Mobilizing for Water Conservation for Building Moxie, which further elaborated a number of these ideas.
Well, Earth Day 2012 came and went, and my commitment to the manual laundry discipline never wavered, albeit it has a lagged a bit on the execution side of things. But nonetheless, my new “high performance/high efficiency” washer (or its various components, more precisely) did arrive last week. And let me tell you: No 1950s television housewife was ever more excited than I, as I hurriedly opened the shipping boxes on my deck and beheld my brand new, high-tech marvel:
Like all such appliances, of course, it does require some “setting up”. But before I get into that, let’s take a closer look at its major components, and the protocol (more or less) for using them to wash clothes:
The main “wash-cycle” items consist of a 35 gallon, round, galvanized steel tub, and what’s called a manual (or sometimes mobile) washing machine, or simply washer, which consists of a blue plastic cone at the end of a long wooden handle (note there actually are two of these in the photo above, one for washing and one for rinsing). The round tub is the primary washtub, and your wash water, eco friendly detergent, and dirty clothes all go in there:
One uses the manual washer to thoroughly clean clothes by agitating them with a vigorous up-and-down motion. A system of internal baffles in the blue plastic cone provides a certain amount of jetting action, as water pressure builds inside the cone:
And for really tough stains or embedded dirt that the manual washer just can’t get completely clean, you use a traditional wash board, just as your grandmother or great-grandmother (depending on how old you are) once did — hey, it worked for her; it can work equally well for you, too!
The “rinse-cycle” components, on the other hand, consist of two oval, 16 gallon tubs, a hand wringer, and a second manual washer. The reason for having two tubs is simply to facilitate primary and secondary rinse cycles to ensure you get most of the detergent-laden wash water out of your clothes. One tub is always used first, along with the other manual washer, to initially get clothes rinsed. Then, the second tub is used for a final rinsing by hand, after which the clothes are fed into the hand wringer for a good pressing, before going on to the clothesline.
The only real problem with this configuration is where to mount the hand wringer. The hand wringer has two screw clamps for fastening it to a flat vertical surface. In the first photo above, I’d attached it to a flat section of the side of a rinse tub. Ideally, this is where you’d want it located, but the steel flexes too much to make this practical. So I’ll most likely construct a wooden transom of sorts to support the hand wringer on, or right against, the flat side of the tub.
As shown in the photo above, the rinse tubs also fit nicely on the long, flat “bench” that constitutes one side of my backyard deck. This is an ideal location, since it’s right near the garden terraces, making it fairly easy to transport greywater to the gardens.
Yet another possibility might be to re-purpose one of the test assemblies I’d constructed for my recent 18V cordless drill review, also on Building Moxie, as a rinse tub support. They fit well there, and constructing a transom for the wringer would be a simple matter of bolting a large board to the side of the assembly:
Finally, one of the nicest features of my new high performance washer is that, at the end of the laundry day, it all stows nicely out of the way on an available cellar wall:
Of course, any high performance washer also needs to be properly paired with a high efficiency dryer, and in this case, that dryer would be — yes, you guessed it — about 100′ of cotton clothesline, two pulleys, and a tensioner. Once I get that set up, along with a support for the hand wringer, this operation will be open for business.