Sunday, May 01, 2011

Ode to washer people of yesterday - laundry day on the homestead

Well, our washing machine, which we purchased through our local barter network several years ago (for 100% barter dollars!) has finally given up.  It's proving to be too expensive to fix, and we can't have water flooding our floor each time we run the machine.  So, while we are considering what best energy efficient models we might want to invest in, we thought we'd try out an old vintage wringer washer a friend dropped off here last year.  It was packed away in our barn for storage, and now was the perfect time to test run it.  It turns out that using the wringer washer is really not much more work than our old machine (especially since I've been mopping up a wet floor after each load lately).  We already hang dry our laundry outside, so this outdoor machine, now perched on our back porch, brings us that much closer to the laundry line.  It takes some patience to fill (we attached a garden hose to our indoor laundry sink to get hot water from the tap), and we drained it directly into our greywater tank in the garden.  Perfect!  It made for a good half an hour of fun that our whole family got involved in, especially our smallest helper who loved turning the crank to wring out the wet clothes.  Granted, on a rainy day or cold winter morning this outdoor system might not look so good, but for summer laundry purposes this might just work for us.  I tried to find out any history about this machine - it's made in Ottawa under the Nuway brand, and came from a cottage where it had been used decades ago during summer vacations.

Just to compare, I looked at the Home Queen Wringer Washer, online at Lehman's (an amazing store for all your non-electric needs!), which retails for nearly $1000 (!) - ok, it has a stainless steel tub, holds 14 lbs of clothes, and is a lot sleeker and sturdier looking than our old green one, but the point is that people are definitely still buying these machines, and they look like they are built to last.  There are so few components, and the ones that do make up this machine could be fixed by us at home.  We are inspired about working toward a more human-powered non-electric home, and found this book to be useful.  There are also lots of interesting stories about pedal-powered laundry models out there on the internet, as another option...did we mention that all these human-powered models offer great exercise?  In future, as fuel-energy becomes more scarce, this may be the way to go...


  1. AnonymousMay 02, 2011

    I've secretly coveted a wringer washer for a long time now (although I'm not sure that my landlords would be so thrilled about the prospect, and all the ones I've seen tend to be sold as very pricey antiques). It all seems rather civilized, though, and I appreciated the human-powered element of it as well.

  2. how are the clothes agitated? how does the dirty water come out? i'm looking for exactly this type of thing and style. can't find one so far.