I've been living without an in-unit washer and dryer for a year now and it hasn't been a big deal—I just haul my laundry 3-floors down to the basement and pay about $2 a load to wash and dry. It's annoying, but by no means a lifestyle deal-breaker.
As a result, I don't see the need to include a washer/dryer in my tiny house—it's just too much space, energy, water, and expense wasted to justify the convenience.
I plan to take my clothes to a laundromat—or, because I live in the Bay Area where anything can be delivered, use a service like Washio. Since the first of these options is inconvenient and the second is expensive (and possibly one of the many businesses that won't survive the impending bubble burst), I wanted to see if I had other options.
Enter the Breathing Mobile Washer.
It's a really simple concept—manual agitation of small loads of laundry. There are other models out there for this kind of old school laundry (barrels you turn by hand or washboards for the really homested-y types), but they took up more storage space than I'm willing to give.
So I bought this simple plunger-like device and a rod that doubles as a great way to stretch my shoulder muscles. Did it work? Here's what happened:
- Fast: The whole washing process took less than 15 minutes.
- Cheap: I don't pay for water in my building and I didn't have to pay the coin-operated washing machine. The item itself only cost me $16.51 plus the rod and the bucket (maybe $10 together?).
- Reliable: This works without regard to power—no drain on my energy source!
- Private: I can do this in the privacy of my own home—no traveling, no waiting for a machine, no one watching me literally deal with my dirty laundry in public.
- Physical: This isn't a task I'd want to do if I was sick or getting on in years.
- Drying: This doesn't solve my need to dry things, and since there's no spin cycle, you need to wring things out by hand and let drip dry (or have an alternative). It's the next day and my dresses are still drying.
- Small loads: I put in 3 dresses and it doesn't seem like I'd want to put in much more than that.
- Water use: Although I only used about 6 gallons of water to wash and rinse my clothes, that's still water I'd have to have on site (as opposed to using the laundromat's). How I source my water for a tiny house may or may not make this a big deal. But hey, that's still way less than the 14-27 gallons of water the front-loading, high-efficiency washing machine uses!
And last but not least—are the clothes clean? I mean, I think so? I didn't have anything with serious stains and the water wasn't clear when I poured it out (not sure if that was due to dirt, color leakage or both). My clothes smell clean, and that's what I care about.
I think I'll keep using this tool for small items like underwear, socks, bras, and things that require hand-washing, but I won't be switching to it for all my laundry needs any time soon. It's an easy alternative to have around when you really need it, but I can't see it being my first choice in laundering.
Practicing Tiny is my series of experiments with tiny living—it's my "try before you buy" way of testing out what my needs are before committing to a build. It's fun.