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ManyTracks Homesteading 
Sue Robishaw

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The Venerable Old Wringer Washer
Still a Great Tool

Maytag wringer washer

How-to  ~  Ideas  ~  Inspiration
 From more than thirty years having a good time living a sustainable life
in the northwoods of Michigan's Upper Peninsula

The old wringer washer is a great tool for laundering. Modern options are interesting, but I still choose and love my old Maytag.

We got our old (small, squarish, gray type) Maytag some twenty years ago (about 1979) from a friend in exchange for the use of our van and trailer for a hauling project. It's been steadily and reliably taking care of our laundry needs ever since. As a water saver it can't be beat. You can wash two to four loads in a row in the wash water, drain, fill with fresh water, then rinse the two to four loads. Or use the rinse water to wash to next (darker, dirtier) batch(es). It is also easy to adjust the amount of water to the size of your loads. The flexibility makes up for the bit of longer time it takes to run the laundry through the wringer (which I still find kind of fun).

When we lived in the cabin it resided on the porch. We ran it with a gasoline engine Steve set up just outside the porch. A proper sized hole in the wall allowed a long v-belt to connect washer to engine. It was a nice setup, though we had to haul laundry to town in the depth of winter, when it got too cold on the unheated porch.

Now it is in place in the much better insulated porch of our house, and runs off a 12 volt motor made from a truck generator. As it runs directly off of our 12 volt battery system, powered by solar panels, the speed of the washer depends on the voltage of our batteries. So I wash when it's sunny and the batteries are charging. Which fits in well since our dryer is the sun. In the winter I run a clothesline inside the house, and since we heat with wood we much appreciate the added humidity from the drying clothes.

After much experience in replacing buttons, I came up with a technique of grabbing shirts by the shoulders and folding the buttonhole side of the front over the buttons before running, flat, through the wringer, keeping an eye as the cuffs go through to make sure those buttons also run through flat (easier done than said).

The destruction of zippers on jeans took me longer to resolve, unfortunately. But after living with pinned up zippers for too long, I finally came up with a simple solution: zip up and button the pants (and anything else that has a zipper) before washing, then run through the wringer flat, waistband first, folding over one edge on the large sizes. The wearers of jeans in our family are much happier now that the zippers stay zipped without pins.

p.s. It's 2009 now and the washer is still running fine. But now, thanks to a better and larger inverter, it now has a 120v motor and I don't have to wait for a sunny day to do laundry though I often do.

If you want to use your graywater from the washer for watering greenhouse or outside plants, be sure to use a non-sodium based, no boron laundry cleaner, ideally one made for that use.

* * * * * *

Copyright 1999 by Susan Robishaw

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NEW!  "Homesteading Adventures" is now available as an eBook! Click on Book for More Info

updated 04/03/2014
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