Laundry Day The Analog Way With The WonderWash Mini Portable Washing Machine
If you don’t have a washing machine in your home, doing your laundry can be a time-consuming process that is inconvenient at best and expensive at worst. But aside from hand washing items in a sink, tub or basin, there seemed no other viable option. Enter The WonderWash Mini Portable Washing Machine, made by a company called (fittingly!) The Laundry Alternative.
The WonderWash is a five-gallon capacity cylindrical plastic tub that is set on a plastic frame with an attached hand crank that allows it to spin. The bottom of the frame features four suction cups, which are meant to secure the WonderWash to the floor of a bathtub, shower stall or kitchen counter. A removable plastic grooved lid at the top of the tub provides a vacuum seal when closed. A hard plastic tube (also removable) is included to insert in the pressure release valve on the outside bottom of the tub. The interior of the tub has subtle markings dividing it into fourths, which allow you to monitor the water and laundry level depending on the size of your load. Generally, the ¾ mark denotes a “full” load, which is the size we’ll use for these example instructions.
Out of the box, the WonderWash comes with an instruction page and includes all components (there is no need for tools). Snapping together the plastic base of the WonderWash is a bit more challenging than it looks; holding on to and reading the provided directions is highly recommended. It requires a fair amount of physical force to securely snap together all of the pieces. From there, it is an easier, more intuitive task to attach the rotating tub. While the WonderWash can technically be taken apart and reassembled as needed, that process is time-consuming enough to make that prohibitive for each time it’s used. It is highly recommended to keep the WonderWash assembled when not in use.
Steps to wash a “full” load with the WonderWash:
Put no more than one tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent into the empty tub.
It pays to follow the provided instructions, here: you do NOT need more than one tablespoon of detergent, and could probably use a bit less. In his book Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore, “The Laundry Evangelist” Patric Richardson writes that “it’s not the soap that truly gets your clothes clean–it’s the water. The soap just lowers the viscosity of the water molecules, or in other words, it makes the water wetter. This allows the water to slide right through your clothes, removing dirt, oil, and more.”
Fill the tub up to the halfway line with warm water.
Warm water will help activate and evenly disperse your detergent. Even detergents marketed as being “for cold water” require a water temperature of 58 to 62 degrees Fahrenheit in order to work properly, whereas most household cold taps clock in at around 53 degrees. If your detergent isn’t dissolving, that means it’s not activating, and that undissolved soap will remain in your clothes. Also: It’s okay to use warm water for all of your clothing items, whether delicate, dark, or brightly colored. They won’t be in warm water long enough to do any harm in terms of shrinking or fading.
Place laundry items into the tub up to the ¾ line.
Gently push laundry items down into water as you place them into the tub. The WonderWash has a capacity of about one-half of a regular home washing machine load. The clothes should have a little wiggle room, but the WonderWash can hold an impressive amount of laundry items for its size. Now, fill the tub with more warm water until the water reaches the 3/4 line.
Line up the grooves on the tub’s top with those on the WonderWash lid, making sure the lid’s green pressure lever is up.
The WonderWash lid creates a vacuum seal when it is twisted closed and the green lever is pushed down.
Spin the tub slowly, using the handle.
Aim for slow rotations, about one full spin per second. This speed allows the water and detergent to better flow through your clothes and release dirt and oils. Keep spinning the tub for three to four minutes. It’s not necessary to switch off between forward and reverse spins, but it can be more comfortable for your spinning arm that way.
Carefully pop up the green lever and remove the lid.
This breaks the vacuum seal. At this point, you can insert the provided hard plastic tube into the pressure release valve under the tub and twist it around a little until you feel it “catch” and see a rush of water start draining through it from the tub. Alternatively, you can choose to forgo attaching the plastic tube and instead just tip the open tub over, making sure to use a hand to keep the clothes from spilling out along with the water.
Now for the rinse cycle!
Fill the tub back up to the ¾ mark with cold water.
Once the tub has drained pretty much completely (which takes about two to three minutes), remove the plastic tube (if used) from the pressure valve by twisting and wiggling it in the opposite of the direction that you inserted it. Refill the tub to the ¾ mark with cold water and replace the lid, making sure to lock it into place and push the green pressure lever down like you did before.
Spin the tub slowly, using the handle.
Just like the wash cycle, keep tub rotations slow and steady. Around three minutes should make for a good rinse time.
Remove the lid and drain.
Pop up the green lever, twist the lid and remove it. Once again, drain the tub by using either the plastic tube and pressure release valve, or by tipping out the water. When the tub has fully drained, your laundry is done! It will be quite damp, so before hanging your items up to dry, you may wish to either squeeze excess water from each item manually or utilize a portable electric spin dryer, such as The Laundry Alternative Ninja Spin Dryer:
You’ve finished your laundry!
Tip out any water remaining in the WonderWash. The tub itself air-dries quickly but the lid has a few more nooks and crannies so it takes a bit longer. The suction cups on the bottom of the frame have a strong seal but release easily as they begin to dry.