has anyone used this portable washing machine?

Living in a building with just one washer and dryer can be frustrating, so I’ve considered purchasing a portable washing machine to make life easier. My past reseplace always led me to clunky, electricity-hogging machines that sounded like more trouble than convenience. Today, I spotted the Hand Powered Portable Washing Machine from Clean Air Gardening, and I think I’ve found a gem. The hand-cranked unit can wash up to five lbs. of laundry at a time and uses way less water and detergent per load then a regular washing machine. Has anyone tried this before? Is it worth the $49, or should I just succumb to hand-washing? I’d love to get a real user review. –Erica P.

From our partners

I don’t own one, looked into getting one several years ago and was a bit put off by the numerous less than happy reviews I found online. It does work for some folks though.

While I didn’t bookmark the review sites, the washer was also written up twice on Apartment Therapy:

once here: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/chicago/cleaning/wonderwash-portable-washing-machine-mini-spin-dryer-073349#comments

and more comments here: http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/cleaning/wonderwash-portable-washing-machine-mini-spin-dryer-073365#comments

I got one for Xmas, and it’s pretty nifty. I would use it more if I had a better way of wringing water out of the clothing–pulling and twisting is bad even for washable cashmere–and more space that was drip-dry friendly (no outside access and old, rough hardwood floors everywhere but the bathroom).

I mostly use it for delicates, or very lightweight fabrics like crepe-y rayons and thin woven cotton/blends–no jeans or towels. It’s also nice to have for those occasions when you stain a tablecloth or something and want to wash it, and only it, right away, or when you realize you MUST have item X for tomorrow, but it’s in the laundry. In less than 10 minutes it’s clean and ready to dry overnight.

I like it, but it hasn’t quite changed my life.

Abby

I believe Bust magazine reviewed this not too long ago. If memory serves, the machine works really well in general but doesn’t duplicate the ability of conventional machines to “tighten back up” one’s jeans (for lack of a better term to describe how washing unstretches jeans).

Do not buy!!!
Works poorly at best washing – rinsing takes forever turning, while adding way too much water (even tried w/ a very small amount of detergent…

So, according to the washer’s web page, five lb. of laundry is two pairs of wet jeans? I can’t clearly see the value of this product. Sure, it uses less water and detergent per load, but how many tiny loads will you have to do to equal one regular-sized load?

Mary T

I’m actually a big fan of Woolite — I have “soaked fine washables clean in just three minutes” for years now. : ) No, I can’t imagine just using the bathroom sink for an entire load of laundry, but sometimes when traveling it’s a great way to go.

Michelle

I’d be more inclined to find a small version of an old-fashioned clothes wringer. I don’t mind sloshing clothes around in the bathtub or sink, but it’s the rinsing and wringing that takes forever.

I have one of those washers. The plus side – it works well, the minus side – the plastic version is flimsy. The handle feels like it will brake, the pivoting pins keep slipping out of the anchoring holes, and I ended up turning the drum without the handle by pushing and pulling at the whole thing. If the lid is overtightened, the plastic can crack and the lid will leak. As a vacuum is the principle of cleaning the wash a cracked lid will make the drum as effective as a wash bowl.

If you are lucky enough, you may find an old metal or enameled version on ebay or in a junk shop – I have found both, though I don’t know how widely they were used. The design goes back at least a few decades, and seemed to have been particularly popular in Germany, where I have seen a number on ebay, but none on the UK website (but found one in a junk shop in the UK).

Having said all this, I now mostly wash by just soaking the laundry for a few hours. And as a another commenter said, the work is in the rinsing and the wringing.

Nostalgia! I used one of these while visiting friends in Guatemala years ago. They had a 4th floor walk-up and used this same type of hand-crank washer to tide them over between laundromat trips. They had a countertop version that was slightly larger I believe; I washed my travel clothes in it and it worked great!

lehman's is better

I highly recommend avoiding. For the time and effort of getting everything in and out of the little tub and spinning it about I can do 4x as much by hand in the sink. It’s not a time saver, energy saver or water saver. If you’re really looking to wash clothes without electricity Lehman’s has a selection of heavy duty old fashioned wringer-washers – which is what you want. Otherwise wash by hand or on cold in a front loader and dry outside. If you’re looking to wash delicates wash by hand.

Carolyn

I had one of these a few years ago. I was renting and didn’t have a washer hook-up. I thought it would save me a few trips to the laundromat. It was okay for washing, but required many re-fills for rinsing. Then there was the hand-wringing. I agree that it was just as easy to wash in the sink or tub.

stephaninny

I just broke plastic washer #2. Wish there was better construction/non-plastic versions. Moving on to plastic bucket + plunger washing. Cannot recommend enough having a good laundry spinner if you plan on hand washing all clothing (which I’ve been doing now for over 2 years). Spinning out the soapy water before rinsing saves so much time and water.

Phyllis

I use a standard German table top version and then use a spinner. It is larger than the one pictured, and has an enameled drum. I would not suggest hand wringing, it is bad for clothes and very tiring if doing a fair amount of laundry.

Angela

I don’t have this model; I have the Wonder Wash, which I would recommend over the one pictured in this post because it has a drain spout and this one doesn’t. Drain spout is absolutely necessary.

The washer has been a TOTAL LIFESAVER for diapers: small loads done fairly frequently, which require a lot of soaking in HOT water that stays hot for the duration of the soak time (can’t be done in a regular sink).

My primary problem with it is that it’s plastic. We’ve had ours for a couple of years and the area on the drum that attaches to the crank is cracking, so we can’t use the hand crank. We can still turn it by hand, but the crank was so much easier and faster!

I’m looking for a metal version and can’t find anything. The previous commenter mentioned a German table top version with an enameled drum. I’ve seplaceed online for that and haven’t come up with anything at all.

We use a spin dryer for getting the water out of the clothes and then line dry them or toss them in the regular dryer, depending on how soon the clothes are needed.

The portable machines is a good choice for people with space constraints or are living in an apartment/building like yourself. But the portable ones tend to lack all the nifty features you should be looking for. If you are after a more reliable washer, consider buying compact washers instead. These are much smaller than regular washing machine but it has the efficiency of a full-sized machine.

Theresa Smith

Try this, its a massive improvement on the “plunger method” and actually gets clothing pretty clean.

http://www.lehmans.com
Breathing Hand Washer

I’ve seen a couple of these pressure washers. Construction wise they are to a washer as an easy bake oven is to an oven.

And if you have clothes that actually get dirty or any large members of your family (my hubby is 6’5″) the clothes just won’t go in at all.