I broke down and got a Wonderwash. The idea of scrubbing clothes on a rock for my family of 6 just tired me out. Plus it saves a lot of water, so...
I was pretty surprised at how big it was. It's almost the same dimensions as a 15 gallon propane tank. Plenty of room for 2 full outfits, or 3 towels.
I tried it out with the following load: my jeans, 2 hand towels, 5 wash cloths (we use them instead of paper towels in the kitchen), my daughter's skirt, and my son's shirt. It's what I grabbed after I got the Wonderwash assembled. It wasn't even half full!
I used hot water from the tap. I used about a teaspoon of soap. I sealed the pressure gasket and began turning the crank. I don't think the legs or crank is going to last forever, but a second crank arm is in the package. China- cheap, but there's two! I can see that one day the stand is going to break, but it seems easy enough to create a different stand. If the crank breaks, it can just be spun by hand.
I read that the soapy water infiltrates the dirty clothes when the pressure builds in the Wonderwash. Also, there is a definite slapping motion as the clothes fall from one side to the other. I remember when my MIL got a front-loading washer, that uses less water, and I watched it thru the cycle. I commented that it didn't seem to be agitating the clothes very well to get the dirt out, and she told me that the sales rep said the slapping action was reminiscent of the washboard/ rock method.
The neat part was the drain. It's a curved pipe with a gasket that you press and turn into the drain. As you open the lid (which seals the pressure) the soapy water suddenly drains out. It looked just as dirty as other wash water I've seen in my full-size agitator, if that's any indicator of cleaning power.
Of course you have the option of rinsing the clothes in the Wonderwash. I would probably let them drain and then give them a good stir in a bucket of clean water. I was looking at wringers to help dry the clothes before putting them on the line, but they are so expensive online, and I haven't looked at the country stores here. I think putting them in a bucket with good-sized holes drilled in the bottom and then stepping on them would be easier and cheaper.
The clothes line would be the first prep, and an indoor backup line in the garage (or living space) would be a good option for rainy weather.
We're so pleased you are reading Farming Salt & Light! Choose how you live!