Practical Self Reliance: Pedal Powered Washing Machine for Off-Grid Laundry

My family has bad luck with appliances. Our clothes washers seem to be a constant source of trouble and expensive repairs or replacements. Recently, when our microwave/oven combo caught fire because our young son managed to get a bowl with a spoon into the microwave for several minutes, it caused me to think again of our clothes washer woes. In the past when the clothes washer has been on the fritz, we have been able to take our clothes to a laundromat in town. During the current pandemic, I’m not even sure if the laundromat is allowed to be open. Luckily, Ashley Adamant at Practical Self Reliance has written this account of her experiences with the Yirego Drumi manual washing machine – Pedal Powered Washing Machine for Off-Grid Laundry. It isn’t cheap, with an Amazon price of $350, but it is an option to consider as a backup or as an alternative to power hungry washing appliances.

Off-grid laundry solutions can be tricky, as washing clothes by hand the old fashioned way is backbreaking work.  A simple foot pedal-powered washing machine makes quick work of dirty clothes and its downright fun to use!

Using a pedal powered washing machine

You never really appreciate how luxurious a modern washing machine truly is…until you try doing the laundry by hand.  It is incredibly uncomfortable, back-breaking labor in the best of cases.  There’s a good reason modern washing machines were quickly adopted as soon as they become available.

We have a normal full-sized washing machine in our off-grid setup, it broke the week my daughter was born.

Here I was at home with a cloth diapered newborn, and I spent just about every waking minute either nursing or washing clothes in the sink.

The part had to be shipped from outside the country (more common than you’d think) and it took a full month to get our washer functioning again.  During that time, I had plenty of time to research off-grid laundry options (or just backup options for when the washer breaks).

There are a few options, including a bucket setup with a plunger like agitator that works pretty well.  Believe it or not though, ringing the clothes out is a bigger problem than washing them.  Modern detergents are really efficient, and they do a lot of the work, but wringing clothes out with just your hands is tricky.

ure, once or twice is fine, but try doing it for a week or more and see how you hold up.  It’s really hard on your finger joints.

Getting the water out of the clothes is tricky though, and old fashioned ringers are darned expensive.  A well made clothes wringer is just under $200.  Add in even the most inexpensive washing options, like this washboard or this bucket washer and you’d have been better off just investing in something that will do it all with minimal effort.

I ended up going with a Yirego Pedal-Powered Washer and it’s been a lifesaver.

We still often find ourselves using this tiny off-grid washing machine.  Why?

Washers break, power goes out, or I just need to wash a small load of super nasty laundry (diapers, shop rags, paint drop clothes, etc).

Honestly, with two young kids in the house, this little magic machine comes out on hot sunny days for fun.  They love watching the suds tirl in the drum, and I’m more than happy to let them “playhouse” by doing the laundry for real.

A load only takes about 8-10 minutes start to finish, including a spin-dry that dramatically cuts down line drying time…

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