Photo credit: RJP, CC BY 2.0.

Buying Into the Lures of “The Wonder Wash,” a Portable, Non-electric, Laundry Hacking Device

How I threw away $50 on the promise of convenience.

Of all the household chores, cleaning dirty clothes and linens without convenient access to a washer and dryer is easily the worst. I know this because it wasn’t until I was almost 29 that I had an apartment with a washer and dryer in the building, let alone in my own unit. So, from ages 22 to 29, I’ve employed a variety of “hacks” to make this loathsome chore a little more automated.

To extend the time between trips to laundromats, I wore raw denim jeans that denim enthusiasts insisted on “freezer washing,” which Apartment Therapy explains will “kill any living organisms.” (Let’s all take a minute to consider how many living organisms might be on our jeans.)

I Febrezed cotton tee-shirts. I hand-washed bras, knits and silk-like synthetic tanks. I dry-cleaned work slacks and dresses. I bought more underwear; I never wore socks. (I lived in Los Angeles, after all. I couldn’t even remember the last time I wore socks.) I did anything and everything to avoid the laundromat. I got by.

I’ll admit linens were an issue. It was a good month if I washed my sheets twice… or once, if it was winter.

Then I decided a real adult would launder things on a more regular schedule. Still resisting the laundromat, I researched portable washing machines. That’s when I discovered The Wonder Wash. This portable, non-electric, pressurized drum could clean about five pounds of laundry in a matter of minutes! Minutes! At about $50, this was a steal. After all, it’d pay for itself in a matter of months—and I’d always loved a gimmicky solution to the toils of adulthood, like setting up my own bokashi composting system.

I ordered the device and excitedly awaited its arrival. Immediately upon receipt, I took it out for a spin. The following is a list of thoughts that came to me, in order:

  • OK, so this washing machine won’t work if the water is cold. What temperature does it need to be at for ultimate effectivity?
  • It’s kind of kludgy to have to measure the detergent exactly, weigh your dirty laundry exactly, and then fill the drum with the right temperature and volume of water for each wash.
  • It should get easier with practice, right? Let’s give this a go.
  • What the fuck! How is this any different from hand washing? Even if this thing manages to get my laundry cleaner than I could with hand washing, I still have to drain the soapy water, rinse the suds out of my laundry into another basin, and then wring out every piece of clothing I own.
  • What about drying? Why didn’t I think of this before I made this purchase?
  • If washing linens is a pain, surely drying sheets would be even more unwieldy.
  • Why didn’t I think of just sending my linens out twice a month for fluff and fold?
  • Or I might as well just move to an apartment with a laundry room in the building.
  • But that would cost more than sending out my laundry for fluff and fold.
  • I just wasted $50.
  • Crap.

The Wonder Wash languished unused in the back of my closet. Every time I caught a glimpse of my fail, I was reminded that seemingly clever solutions don’t often live up to their eager promises. Had I taken the $50 and put it towards sending my linens out for fluff and fold, I would have had several months’ worth of clean sheets. Or I could have decided that a real adult makes time to visit the laundromat on a weekly basis, until she turns 29 and can finally move into a building with a washing machine.


Michelle Song finally rage-quit her corporate gig and is now pursuing other interests such as being a mother to a fur baby, writing for fun and dreaming up the second act of her work life. She is also an old millennial, unlikely to be found on Instagram, or God forbid, Snapchat. Reach her at michellesong101@gmail.com.

This story is part of The Billfold’s Financial Fails series.