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Written by Joanna Hoang   
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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Manual Washing Machine

Washing machines can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year to run depending on your washing machine type, whether or not you use hot, warm, or cold water, your energy company’s prices, water company’s prices, and the number of loads you run per week! Most significantly, roughly ninety percent of the energy used by washing machines just goes towards heating water!1

So, how about a bike pedal-powered washing machine? Currently, there are many different designs and ideas for pedal powered washing machines. The goals differ, but they include reducing energy and water consumption and costs, and increasing accessibility for people who cannot afford and/or do not have the energy capacity to own conventionally powered washing machines. By now you are probably wondering how you can manage to get your hands on a pedal powered washing machine... Unfortunately, at this time there are no pedal powered washing machines available for mass production and thus for purchase by consumers. However, if you are handy with tools you can build your own!

BENEFITS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: Medium to High. Using a pedal powered washing machine will help you use significantly less energy and save water.

COSTS: Low - Medium

TIME AND EFFORT: Extremely High

Here are guidelines and instructions for making a pedal powered washing machine based on Homeless Dave’s Project: Homeless Dave had been using a handwasher to do laundry for over a decade, and in early 2007 he decided to build a pedal powered machine and use that instead.2
  1. First off you need to obtain a conventional washing machine, a bike, and a toolkit. Try to find either a broken washing machine and bike or ones that are no longer being used, following the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra!
  2. Modify your washing machine:
    • Remove the outer metal shell, usually white in color, from your washing machine by removing and unscrewing every bolt on the machine.
    • Take out the electric motor from your washing machine frame.
    • Remove the pulley from the motor’s shaft.
    • Take off the drain hose that connects the tub to the pump.
    • Save the belts from the pulley.
  3. Modify the Trainer using your pulley
    • Buy three tension pins from a hardware store and a drill bit.
    • Drill three even spaced holes on the pulley.
    • Have the pulley positioned on the fly wheel so that it is centered and drill through the flywheel.
    • Hammer in the tension pins.
  4. Piecing it all Together
    • Position your bicycle stand and the washer in a position that you think will work for the design.
    • Measure/Estimate how long of a belt you will need.
    • Take the belt from step 1 to a hardware store and get one that’s the same except closer to the estimated size that you need, which will most likely be longer than the one you have.
    • Drill and attach a large piece of plywood under your washer.
    • Attach the belt with the training stand resting on the piece of plywood.
    • Test your configuration.
    • Drill holes to attach the training stand feet.
    • Modify your configuration as necessary.
  5. Your final project should look similar to the one in the photo below:

    laundry panarama 3

  6. Try washing your clothes in your new nifty laundry machine!
Once you are done pedaling away at this powerful washing machine, hang your clothes up to dry out in the sun, as your clothes dryer could be accounting for ten percent of your total electricity use!.4 If it is raining outside, consider hanging them inside to air dry ☺ The completely environmentally friendly way to wash your clothes powered conveniently through human power!

For more eco-friendly laundry tips: "Laundry Make it Eco Friendly"
For more eco-friendly drying tips: "Dry Your Clothes on a Clothesline"

Pedal Powered Washing Machines to watch for:

A team of engineering students at MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are designing a bicycle powered washing machine from bike parts and empty barrels in a project called Bicilavadora for residents of developing countries.5 Another cool laundry machine design by Shang Che Wu also uses pedal power, but not in the form of a bike. The form of this design is very much like a laundry basket. A prototype of the design has not been built yet, but the idea is amazing:

Pedal Power Washing Machine 
Pedal Power Washing Machine6

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Last Updated ( Monday, 31 October 2011 )


Green Facts

  • Washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water saves 500 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and drying your clothes on a clothesline six months out of the year would save another 700 pounds.

  • In California homes, about 10% of energy usage is related to TVs, DVRs, cable and satellite boxes, and DVD players.

  • States with bottle deposit laws have 35-40% less litter by volume.

  • Americans use 100 million tin and steel cans every day.

  • You will save 300 pounds of carbon dioxide for every 10,000 miles you drive if you always keep your car’s tires fully inflated.

  • Every week about 20 species of plants and animals become extinct.

  • One recycled aluminum can will save enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours.

  • Recycling 1 million laptop computers can save the amount of energy used by 3,657 homes in the U.S. over the course of a year.

  • An aluminum can that is thrown away instead of recycled will still be a can 500 years from now!

  • 82 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from burning fossil fuels.

  • A tree that provides a home with shade from the sun can reduce the energy required to run the air conditioner and save an additional 200 to 2,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime.

  • A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.

  • Bamboo absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than equivalent stands of trees.

  • Refrigerators built in 1975 used 4 times more energy than current models.

  • Shaving 10 miles off of your weekly driving pattern can eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

  • You will save 100 pounds of carbon for each incandescent bulb that you replace with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), over the life of the bulb.

  • Current sea ice levels are at least 47% lower than they were in 1979.

  • It takes 6,000,000 trees to make 1 year's worth of tissues for the world.

  • A laptop consumes five times less electricity than a desktop computer.

  • Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy used to make the material from scratch.

  • Less than 1% of electricity in the United States is generated from solar power.

  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.

  • Turning off the tap when brushing your teeth can save as much as 10 gallons a day per person.

  • In the United States, automobiles produce over 20 percent of total carbon emissions. Walk or bike and you'll save one pound of carbon for every mile you travel.

  • If every U.S. household turned the thermostat down by 10 degrees for seven hours each night during the cold months, and seven hours each weekday, it would prevent nearly gas emissions.

  • Glass can be recycled over and over again without ever wearing down.

  • Recycling 100 million cell phones can save enough energy to power 18,500 homes in the U.S. for a year.

  • Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every 3 months

  • Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute.

  • The World Health Organization estimates that 2 million people die prematurely worldwide every year due to air pollution.

  • American workers spend an average of 47 hours per year commuting through rush hour traffic. This adds up to 23 billion gallons of gas wasted in traffic each year.

  • A steel mill using recycled scrap reduces related water pollution, air pollution, and mining wastes by about 70%.

  • Nudge your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter to prevent 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

  • You’ll save two pounds of carbon for every 20 glass bottles that you recycle.

  • 77% of people who commute to work by car drive alone.

  • Americans throw away more than 120 million cell phones each year, which contribute 60,000 tons of waste to landfills annually.

  • Due to tiger poaching, habitat destruction, and other human-tiger conflicts, tigers now number around 3,200—a decrease in population by about 70% from 100 years ago.

  • Recycling for one year at Stanford University saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees and the need for 636 tons of iron ore, coal, and limestone.

  • For every 38,000 bills consumers pay online instead of by mail, 5,058 pounds of greenhouse gases are avoided and two tons of trees are preserved.