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Published on December 8th, 2006 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

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Homeless Dave’s DIY Pedal-Powered Washing Machine


Thanks to Homeless Dave for tipping me off to his (very exacting) plans for this DIY Pedal-Powered Washing Machine. Dave claims that using a traditional handwasher led him to this invention — he got tired of wringing, but wanted to return to human-powered laundry from the stackable washer and dryer he and his partner had bought. The final inspiration, though, was the Salad Spinner:

Examining the construction of the salad spinner, I realized I needed a giant perforated metal tub that I could spin inside a solid tub so that the water forced out of the laundry through centrepital force would collect on the inner wall of the solid tub, then drain out the bottom, instead of flying all around the room. Drying lettuce in the salad spinner over the years, I’d seen minor lettuce-load imbalances wreak havoc with the spinning action. So I figured I would need a way to build some amount of play and shock absorption in the whole system.

Of course, the engineers at General Electric, Maytag, or really any manufacturer of automatic washers, have already invented this wheel. So my strategy was to adapt a broken washing machine to my specific purpose of spinning clothes. I put an ad on CraigsList, and within hours I had an email in my inbox with the offer of a free broken machine if I would just haul it away.

As a total sucker for DIY solutions, I simply couldn’t pass this one up. I doubt I’ll be trying to build one, though — I only wish I were this handy. Dave does point out a few drawbacks to his current design, including the need to accelerate to and maintain a speed of 50 rpms. If you’ve got answers for some of his design challenges, he claims he’s interested…

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About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at



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