I have, at various times, tried to put an end to my relationship with washing machines. Usually when my other alternative is a laundromat because I cannot go to a laundromat without being horrified at the number of quarters it takes to make the machines run. When I have a machine at home it's easier not to remember that my use of it directly impacts the water and electric bills.
But it is a family goal to be off-grid in ten years, and that means finding a new way to deal with the never-ending avalanche of dirty clothes and linnens falling out of the closets. Hand-washing can actually be rather pleasant, especially with the right tools, but the limit of trouble I'm willing to put myself through runs out at the point where the hand-washed clothes need wrung out. Wringing a few pairs of heavy denim overalls can give one blisters.
So here is the Speed Queen Wringer Washer. It came with the house, that is to say, free, and it still runs, and it's kind of cute. We'll give it a try.
Now the first load is hanging on the line under the apple tree, and I'm not sure about this at all. For one thing, it is almost as much work as hand-washing when compared to a modern machine. It does not fill or drain itself, or turn off at the appropriate time, and add to that the clothes must be fed through the wringer where a modern machine would simply run a spin cycle. Secondly, since it is not a hand-cranked wringer, I'm not at all sure that it uses less electricity than a modern machine, and it certainly doesn't use less water.
Still, it was free, and that is enough to put up with it for now if it does it's job properly. However, this load came out linty and gritty, and if that does not change with the next load, than it's off to the laudromat for me and my dirties. It could be that the old bathroom mats I threw in weren't meant to be machine washed, and it was the Speed Queen's first run in at least three years, so I will give it another chance. The bath mats are not so lucky. On top of being ugly, they have now made my angry, so I have thrown them away.
Midterm grade: 2 out of 5
Shoot, it's raining.
I've been using my Google-fu, and it seems I am mistaken about the Speed Queen's water and electricity usage. I have not found any hard numbers, but several sources claim that its resource use is "a fraction" of modern machines. I'm trying to find a comparison to the new-fangled energy-star rated thingamabobbers that you see on TV, but appearently it's not a very interesting topic to most people.
Here is an interesting read on the subject: http://www.irememberjfk.com/mt/2008/01/grandmas_wringer_washer.php