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Washing and drying clothes

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Washing clothes

Pedal-powered washing machines have been made at MIT in partnership with a Guatemalan community (see Bicilavadora: A Pedal-powered Washing Machine) and at Humboldt's Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (see Pedal Powered Washing Machine). These designs use direct power, rather than generating electricity to run the washer.[1] There are also many more hits on Google.

The Centre for Appropriate Technology (Australia) has had some success in Australian indigenous communities with a hand-operated "washing machine" using a paddle to stir the water, which is popular for washing blankets. Attempts have been made by CAT (or people associated with CAT) to introduce it to Indonesia, but it was not popular, as they felt the clothes were not getting a proper wash.[2]

A television show in Australia in the 1980s ("The Inventors"?) had a small hand-operated washing machine, suitable for nappies, for example, while camping.

Solar hot water could make washing easier and more effective, as the additional cleaning effect from using warm or hot water could be an alternative to hard scrubbing work the hands. Of course, this is not suitable for all materials, especially colored clothing, or clothing which is liable to shrink.

Spin-drying or wringing

After washing and before hanging up, clothes are generally wrung out by hand.[3] This is less effective than the spin cycle of a washing machine, and the result is that the clothes dry less quickly, and have a less fresh smell.[4] Wringing is also hard work, and tough on the skin of the hands.

It may be possible to build an appropriate technology spin dryer.

However, the best solution may be the one which was popular in Western countries before washing machines became popular, i.e. the clothes wringer. The clothes are passed between two rollers, which squeeze them tightly.

Examples of wringers can be seen at here at Survival Unlimited - these start at around US$100, but it can be expected that they should be much cheaper in a developing country, especially if mass-produced. (Other pictures, including old-style wringers, can be seen at Google image search.)

Drying clothes

Template:Wikipedia p Wealthier people (whether in developing or advanced countries) may choose to use clothes dryers. Some council codes (e.g. in many parts of Sydney, Australia) actually require developers to install clothes dryers.[5] This is very wasteful of energy, and so sustainable alternatives are desirable.

Where drying clothes in public view is not allowed, in order to maintain a tidy appearance, there are designs which can satisfy both sustainability and aesthetics. One approach is to have drying rooms (perhaps a small section of a balcony) with louvers to allow airflow. Another is to have the balcony railing designed in such a way (e.g. with louvers) that drying racks below a certain height are not visible from outside the building.

See also

References and footnotes

  1. Pedal Powered Washing Machine Tests, David Butcher, a pedal-power enthusiast, calculates it would take 1 hr and 45 minutes of pedaling to generate electricity for one load of washing. Presumably it is significantly more efficient to use the mechanical power directly, rather than using a generator; also this may be cheaper in a developing country setting.
  2. Based on personal conversation between Singkong2005 and (name?) from CAT, at the EWB Australia national conference, 2005.
  3. This is common practice in Indonesia, and presumably also the case in other developing countries. --Singkong2005
  4. At least, I assume it's the less effective wringing that is the reason for the smell. Note that it's not a really bad smell, but clothes that have been through the washing machine and spun dry are definitely fresher smelling. --Singkong2005
  5. This contributes to the unexpected result that new apartments in Sydney use as much as or more energy than stand-alone houses.