We Tried It

We Tried It: Hand Washing My Laundry

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Laundry, o laundry, I hate you. Clothes! Beautiful clothes! I love you. But you get dirty. Why hasn’t someone invented clothes that don’t have to be washed yet? How is this not a thing?

Unluckily, we have no washer/dryer in the apartment ­čÖü I’m ‘lucky’ enough to have a laundry room in the building, one of which always seems to be broken. There are three machines, for over 45 apartments…Somehow the math just doesn’t seem to add up.

So, just to be clear, let me break that down for you: mountains of laundry > 3 machines (haha math!)

On top of that, there’s the pure inconvenience of the whole thing. I have to drag my 2 ton bag of laundry downstairs. As if I have the arm strength for that, please. By the time I get to the door I am literally dragging this stuff on the floor. I hate how you have to collect enough quarters over months to throw it into this nasty crap machine full of other people’s hair. GROSS. Let’s not even get into the costs of those machines on the environment and your clothes themselves. I feel like that dryer lint trap is literally collecting the bits of my disintegrating clothes. There must be a solution, right?

For a brief period of my life (like 2 months) I had this great solution where I would outsource my laundry and they would pick it up wash and fold and drop it off to me the next day.


That’s a real picture, totally candid.

It was amazing. I really see how rich people can get so much stuff done when they’re not doing stupid stuff the rest of us have to. But of course it turns out that outsourcing your laundry is not free (who knew?). So I quickly put an end to that amazing bright spot in my laundry history. There must be another way. Researcher that I am, I went to the internet cause there has to be a better way than trucking my laundry mountain around town or stairs, and I found this thing:

Yes, it does look ridiculous. So I went ahead and bought it cause it was an experiment and anything was cheaper than paying for my magical laundry delivery service. Here’s how it went.

I had my doubts but it has worked pretty well. It’s a small, hand-powered bucket of sorts that will hold a small load of laundry. You put your hot water and soap in (also add white vinegar – more on that in a bit) then add your clothes. Then screw the cap on until it creates a seal with the bucket and you’re ready to go. You crank for two minutes which is pretty easy even with my weak noodle arms, then empty the water and repeat with clean water for a rinse cycle. It took me about 7 minutes. After that you gotta wring them out and air dry em. 15 minutes total. The time savings is convenient for sure.

I don’t have the greatest sense of smell –┬á I think East Coast Dame┬ábroke my nose as we were playing an epic game of “let’s jump across the rooms between beds” when we were younger – I got my super-smeller friend┬áto test out the smell of the clean and dry clothes. They passed! Well, the first load sort of passed – she said the armpits smelled lightly of being worn, but not strong. The next batch I let soak for about 15 minutes before agitating and added some vinegar in the rinse cycle – problem solved! The vinegar also helped A TON for drying the clothes. They can sometimes get stiff if you are line drying or using a drying rack, but the white vinegar was magic and everything dried quite nicely! So yeah, it really worked.

Pros: cheap! we need that budget to stick and it’s already paid for itself in quarters saved! eco-friendly since you don’t waste electricity or water, easy, and quick. Did I just find a cheaper alternative to laundry?

Cons: stupid wringing out the clothes comes close to being considered real work, and if you live in a humid climate or it’s cold, your clothes will take FOREVER to dry on a rack.

I’ve done multiple loads of laundry with this method, and they’ve all come out well. Especially for gym clothes. My next experiment with it is to try towels and maybe sheets if they fit.

What do you guys think? Have you tried hand-washing or any other laundry alternatives?

Stay fresh,



  1. I’ve never tried hand-washing or any other alternatives, so I’m fascinated with your experiment! Looks like a sweet machine, I just think it would take up too much of my time doing laundry for a family of five. I look forward to hearing about how the towels go.

    1. Whoa! A family of 5 definitely deserves their own washing machine! Thanks for the encouragement – I will keep you posted on how this little guy works out!

  2. I have hand-washed some of my shirts and non dryer friendly clothing a couple times. Quite frankly I will not have enough time to wash all of my clothes every week as that will take quite a bit of time. This little bucket looks pretty neat though. When I do my apartment search this summer I will keep it in mind if they have shared laundry!

    1. I am notorious for letting my laundry pile up to Mt. Everest size, at which point my little hand-crank washer cannot compete. Part of my new goals in savings though is to do a little at a time. I can get about two full days worth of clothes in the little washer so it’s my intention to do this every other day or so before it gets out of hand. Thanks for your comment and good luck with your apartment search!

  3. I just hand wash the delicates in my sink. I line dry most of my clothes even though I have a dryer, because the clothes last longer. Never tried a crank machine. Perhaps if my next place does not have easy access to a washer…

    1. I’ve found line drying to definitely be better for longevity of clothes – you’re smart to do that. Longer lasting clothes=budget savings! And here in Los Angeles, the air is pretty dry so they don’t take too long. I miss the dryer for a few things I have that stretch when I wear them, but for the most part the air drying has worked out pretty great! I think I’ll stick with it.

  4. I’m impressed that you’re willing to take this on. Looks like quite a bit of work.

    I do wonder why someone doesn’t invent a hand washing machine that is powered by a stationary bike. That way, you can wash your clothes and get a workout in at the same time.

  5. Great little implement – how many clothes can you wash in a load?

    I only hand wash clothes that require hand washing. Laundry is one of my least favorite chores, but I am grateful for my washing machine with two teenagers in the house. I do hang my clothes on a rack outside when the weather is agreeable – they smell amazing!

  6. That is so cute – I’ve never heard of that! Even if you don’t go ahead with using just that, it would be great as a backup in case all of the machines in your building broke!

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