The Benefits of Using a Manual Washing Machine

When people start picturing washing their clothes without electricity they imagine of bringing their clothes down to the river or creek start popping up in their mind, taking out the washboard, and vigorously scrubbing their clothes until they are clean. It sounds time-consuming, tiring, and just down right awful. Luckily it doesn’t have to be that way anymore, there are plenty of washing machines on the market now that do not require electricity to run and still manage to keep your clothes clean and fresh.

These washing machines are mainly comprised of three parts, a containment section that holds all of the parts as well as the water and soap together, a colander like section or drainage pipe for disposing of waste water, and some type of agitator for spinning or mixing the clothes. Professional models include a hand crank or foot pedal as the agitator, while a basic DIY model can be made using nothing more than two five gallon buckets and a plunger. The benefits to these types of washing machines are numerous, including;

Preserving Water

Foot powered washing machine. (photo courtesy of

Traditional washing machines use anywhere from 15 to 45 gallons of water per load. With a hand or foot powered washing machine, each load uses only 5 to 7 gallons of water. In areas where drought is common or for households utilizing a rain catch system having a body-powered washing machine is invaluable

Cost Effective

Since you are using less water you are already saving money right from the beginning if you are paying for city water. Less water means a smaller water bill. But, the machines themselves are cheaper than a traditional washer, even one of the more commercial versions. With a sophisticated crank or pedal version, you can expect to pay as little as fifty to one hundred dollars for a machine, while a DIY five-gallon bucket machine will only cost a few dollars. And, that’s still not counting the reduced cost of not having to rely on electricity to keep the machine running, lowering your electric bill as well.


Hand powered washing machine. (photo courtesy of

Since they are so small these types of washing machines are easy to carry along with you wherever you go. Whether you are using them in your home, RV, or for long camping trips, a hand or pedal powered washing machine can be thrown in the back of your car and taken with you just about anywhere, not something I’d recommend trying with a traditional washing machine. And, if you happen to be living in a tiny home they can easily be stored in a cupboard or small closet without taking up a lot of space

Time Saving

With traditional washing machines, you may be able to step away from it while it’s doing its thing, but you still have to stick around and wait for it to get done and unload it unless you don’t mind your clothes smelling musty or washing them a second time. Those big expensive machines can take about half an hour to wash a load of laundry. With a body powered machine, you can drastically cut that time down to about five minutes. The only downside is that you have to be there the entire time the clothes are washing, but getting it done and over with leaves you plenty of time to move on to more fun or important tasks in your day.

Whether you are looking to replace your current washing machine, use one for travel purposes, or just want to be more environmentally conscious, a body-powered washing machine is a perfect option. They are quick, small, and easy to use. The best part, though, is that they use fewer resources that a traditional washing machine and get your clothes just as clean.


  1. While living in India I washed in a five gallon bucket by hand. The detergent was harsh on my hands/feet, which I used for agitation, and my clothes faded significantly with the harsh detergent and drying in the sun. I loved the washing by hands/feet, but if I did it again, I’d use mild detergent and dry in the shade!

    Any ideas on how to use manual methods for washing much bigger/heavier stuff like blankets and winter sweaters? I live in a very cold climate and have a lot of bulky bedding.

  2. We nearly run out of water every summer. To save water we collect it in a rain barrel, this year I started using this for washing clothes, using an axillary bucket for wet clothes to go in. I just dump them in the aux bucket, and then hang them on a clothesline. I don’t bother with winging them out, I hang them dripping on the line. They water the plants there, I take the excess waste water and water the garden with it. Be sure to use eco soaps. I use basic L from Shaklee, but there are many varieties.

  3. It’s not the washing by hand that is the main problem, it’s the drying in Winter. An electric machine does a great job of spinning most of the water out.

  4. The cost of the traditional washing machine is less. We need less water to wash or dresses. Also, we don’t need electric to start the manual washing machine. So, we can save our electric bill also.

  5. I liked what you said about how foot-powered washing machines are very cost-effective with your water bill. I am planning a long trip with my family in an RV, so I’m considering a foot-powered washing machine to help us keep up with our laundry and not cost too much in water or electricity. Thank you for the information about how they are cheaper than traditional washers, even when you get a sophisticated one.

  6. Yes off course, the machines themselves are cheaper than a traditional washer, even one of the more commercial versions are available in the market.

  7. The laundromat near me just went up half a buck per wash. And a manual machine is faster? The only rub is drying and initial cost. Any realistic solution under $260 will do. Gonna go check it out on Amazon.

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