Recently, several friends have shared a viral-style video about a foot-powered washing machine. Of course I was intrigued. Even an ENERGY STAR certified washer uses about 280 kWh of electricity and 13 gallons of water per load. How much can a human-powered model save?
A lot, it turns out. The YiREGO Drumi holds 5 pounds of clothing and uses 2.3 gallons of water per load. You start by putting in your clothes, half the water, and detergent, and then you pump the foot pedal for five minutes to swish it around. Next you drain the machine, add the rest of the water, and pump the foot pedal for another five minutes to rinse. The company claims it has about half the capacity of a typical electric washer. (I find this claim slightly inflated – 5 pounds equals about two warm-weather outfits for me, which means I’d have to do four or five loads with the Drumi to match my current washer.) The ten-minute ankle workout is a nice bonus.
Unfortunately, I can’t find any reviews, so I don’t know how well the Drumi does its job compared to a traditional washer, or how reliable it is over many years of use. And you might still need a dryer, which is a far larger energy suck averaging 769 kWh. (Of course, for a lot of laundry, the old fashioned clothesline works just fine.)
Several other small washers exist on the market. A few years ago Kent Griswold’s Tiny House Blog reviewed a hand-crank tabletop washer, which is sold by various companies such as The Laundry Alternative. You can also buy a variety of plug-in portable washers, often with sink faucet adaptors, which might be more convenient than human-powered models but don’t save much energy over full-size washers.
Indeed, the most appealing thing about the Drumi (and its ilk) is the size. Slightly larger than a five-gallon bucket, it’s very appealing for anyone living in a small house or apartment with no electric washer. Sure beats a trip to the laundromat!