How to wash dirty clothes on a sailboat can be an issue once you’re aboard for more than a weekend sail. I’ve had more than a few occasions where I’ve needed to do laundry while aboard. A small brush and a sink of soapy water will do in a pinch but with my eyes dreaming of the distant horizon I wanted something better, non-electric and small with conservative water requirements. Last year at the local boat swap I found a WonderWash washing machine.
This little washer works by building up pressure inside the unit as you crank the handle to tumble the laundry. It will work on a small load with as little as a quart of water and a spoon of laundry soap. It measures about 18 inches by 18 inches and is all-plastic. I find it works best if I’m using really hot water. It doesn’t do large loads but can handle bed sheets if I do them one at a time and the same for jeans. It only takes about a minute of cranking per wash load and it’s a slow turning of the handle. Remember, you can click on any pic to enlarge just don’t comment on the pic’s…I don’t find those. Leave questions and comments below, thanks!
The unit I bought came with a drain tube that attaches to the bottom of the unit but I find I don’t like it at all. It takes a really long time to drain out the soapy water and I much prefer to open the top and dump it out while keeping the laundry inside. Although I suppose if you wanted to work on other projects at the same time it might be a good thing. For me it’s all about ‘get the job done now’ not dawdle around.
One common problem with these little washers is the lid. Ours was no exception. They lock in place by twisting the lid to lock the tabs and then turning a large ‘screw’ type lock that pushes the gasket on plastic inner lid against the top of the washer. There is a fine line between just right and too tight. The too tight being the common problem with the thin plastic inner lid. Ours was broken when we bought it at the swap meet, definitely a buyer beware moment as the seller never said a word even though he’d tried to fix it by gluing it back together.
Once I knew there was a problem I looked on the Internet for a solution. I went to the web site for the washer (a sticker on the front) and found they offer new lids because it’s such a common issue. My hubby called the 800 number and ordered a new lid with a credit card. He was told it would ship out right away. Two weeks later we’re still waiting and no charge showing on the card. I called back and spoke with a guy who said the item wasn’t sent, as it wasn’t ordered. So I gave him my debit card number and was assured the lid would be out soon. You guessed it! No lid and no charge again…now we’re irritated.
My hubby called a local metal shop and asked about having a thin 1/8″ piece of aluminum cut into a disk. They said it would be easy to do and so he took the inner lid (after very carefully removing from the lid housing) down to that shop and for not a lot of money we had a new non-breakable inner lid. We glued (rubber adhesive) the gasket from the old inner lid to the new aluminum one. I have to be careful to get the gasket/inner lid centered but it works just fine.
I much prefer a bucket of clean water to rinse my wash in and of course you have to wring out by hand but it works really well. Provided I have hot water to wash with and cold to rinse with I’m a happy camper. It’s interesting to hang laundry on the lifelines to dry but I’m definitely getting the feel for cruising. Hopefully I’ll be able to cast off the dock lines to my sailboat in the not too far distant future with clean laundry using my non-electric WonderWash.
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