The Human-Powered DIY Washing Machine: 5 Plans

diy washing machine

Need a DIY clothes dryer? That’s easy: string up a line between two trees, fence posts, or whatever you’ve got. A DIY washing machine, however, is just a bit more involved… but as I’ve discovered after poking around, not much more.  With a repurposed container for a “drum,” and a few other easily-available materials, you can be washing your clothes and getting some exercise in a few hours.

5 Plans for DIY Washing Machines

1. The Hillbilly Washer

We’ll start simple here – all you need for this project are a 5-gallon bucket, a toilet plunger, and a drill. Your arms will get a good workout…

2. The Slightly More Deluxe 5-Gallon Bucket Washer

If you want to take a slight step up from #1, just get your hands on a second bucket. You’ll be able to drain wash and rinse water much easier, and even add a spin function:

3. The Large Drummed DIY Washer

a 5-gallon bucket won’t hold a lot of laundry at once… but a thirty-gallon will! See how to join it up with a 55-gallon pickle barrel for a large-capacity washer that still requires no electricity.

4. The Lever-Action Off-Grid Washer

Now we’re getting just a bit more complex. Designed with the developing world in mind, the use of a lever gives a user more power for less human energy. The complete plans for Michael Perdriel’s invention are available at Make; you’ll need quite a few materials for this one. (via Survivopedia, which has also published a few other plans)

5. The Pedal Powered Washer

This isn’t the first time we’ve featured one of these – Homeless Dave’s plan appeared on sustainablog years ago – but John and Christy’s pedal-powered washing machine is mighty sweet! This one requires some serious maker skills – there’s some welding involved, for instance. I’d imagine, though, that a foot/leg powered machine would be a little easier to power for the 10-20 minutes required to get your clothes clean. Watch the video, and then check out this young couple’s other efforts to live more sustainably in the D.C. area:

Of course, there are lots of other designs and plans out there – if you’ve got one you prefer to those above, make your case in the comments below.

Image credit: Screen capture from “Human Powered Clothes Washer DIY” video


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