For the life of me I cannot recall how I stumbled upon these things–even though it was just a few days ago!–but I’m glad that I did.
A breathing hand washer is a very simple tool used for doing laundry. It looks a lot like a toilet plunger, and functions a lot like one too; essentially, it pulls water and detergent up through the clothes with some force, yanking dirt and grime free of the fibers. This is the one that I bought, though I got mine from Amazon for a few dollars cheaper.
This is what the one I got looks like, though there’s a tin version available too that has more or less the same product rating.
I absolutely love the very idea of these things. They’re very simple tools, easy to maintain and care for, do the job well, and only use a bit of elbow grease to operate.
Personally, I hate doing laundry. Always have. I especially hated it when I lived in the city and had to trek to a laundromat in the snow, paying upwards of $5 for a single load. I would often avoid washing things like blankets, sheets, towels because I was too broke to do them nearly as much as recommended. $20/month for weekly laundry, $260/year, is an arm and a leg any way you look at it. But that’s apartment living for you.
And beyond getting gouged on coin-op laundromats, washers and dryers just waste so much energy. Why anyone is allowed to operate a dryer here in Southern California during the summer is beyond me. (I say this as I sit, waiting for my load of laundry to finish drying. But I’ll get to that in a second.) No, I’m not trying to romanticize the laborious process of doing a family’s laundry with a tub and washboard. It’s plain hard work. and convenience definitely has its place. But what if there was a convenient manual alternative?
Enter this thing!
I’ve only used it once so far, and probably on the worst thing possible: a terrycloth towel. Let’s just say that I’ve forgotten how heavy those things get when completely saturated. But work it did. Such are the wonders of fluids physics! It probably would have been better to wash something I knew for a fact was pretty dirty, and a few of them at once, but practically all of the reviews I’ve read so far have lead me to believe that I’ve got nothing to worry about when it comes time to do some real loads of laundry with this clever little device.
The downside is that yes, while you clothes do get clean, the breathing washer doesn’t have a spin cycle. So because I’m a dupe, I sat for a few minutes, wringing that towel out with every ounce of strength that I had. Lets just say that my arms were jelly afterward.
But in the future, I will definitely be doing a setup like the one explained in this video. Freakin’ brilliant. What’s even better is that the water can be very easily reclaimed from using pretty much any method involving the breathing washer, and used for watering the garden, etc. Assuming you use the proper laundry soap, of course.
The routine I end up with will take some time to hammer out, obviously, but light to medium-weight clothing will definitely get washed this way and go straight to the clothesline during the summer. Terrycloth towels will definitely NOT be getting washed this way, and neither will heavy blankets. Jeans, I’m not sure, though some combination between hand washer/dryer will be what I end up doing.
So yeah. If any of you are interested, it seems like a fantastic investment that will last for years and years– hell, possibly for a lifetime, even.