Laundry strategies: Enter the twin tub (to save water, energy & $$$)

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If you’re renting or living frugally, chances are good that you don’t have access to a conventional clothes washer or dryer. You might not even have shared coin-op machines in your building or neighborhood. Thanks to online retailers, enter the ‘twin tub‘ or similar — roughly kitchen waste bin-sized, portable (typically under 20lb) and mainly plastic washing machines that run on household plug power  (110v in the US) and can be filled from any water source (sink, bucket, garden hose, etc). The portable washing machine photographed was purchased and shipped via Amazon for under $125 and includes a spin (non-heated) basket ‘dryer’ — which might even work as a salad spinner, too 😉 (don’t try that):

twintub
Our latest low energy, low water “twin tub’ portable washing machine, approaching its first birthday / year of use.

This is the second such twin tub I’ve owned in the last decade — the first stayed with a previous rental after several years of our use and is likely still going. In our current market, every time I use our latest machine, I save at least $2 in laundromat costs. It’s closer to $5 per load in savings when I combine twin tub spin drying with line / rack drying, as opposed to using a coin-op dryer. I reckon I’ve saved about $10-15 each week since May 2018 with this machine.

drying
Drying racks (including ones with clips)

Depending on your market, your cost savings might be even more significant — as I shudder remembering the high cost of bag laundry service in some cities. I also note that I can use less detergent per load and often get a better clean (compared with coin-op laundry) using our twin tub. Plus, by using biodegradable detergent and stain treatment, I feel comfortable using the drain / ‘greywater‘ for irrigating non-edible landscaping. Good for the environment and the wallet:

Here are some additional ideas and tips:

  • Splurge on a floating lint catching basket — about $6 each;
  • Drying racks with clips are a great time and space saver for socks, etc;
  • Use net bags for delicates, including in the spin dryer;
  • Assist and further stretch detergent by adding vinegar to each load;
  • Follow the instructions. The twin tubs I’ve owned have stressed to not run the spin dryer while the machine is draining, and to not run the drain when the machine is empty (to protect the internal water pump);
  • We run each load through a 15 minute wash cycle followed by a 6 minute rinse cycle (with fresh water), but do what works for your washing;
  • Assist the machine drain with gravity, such as by using chairs as a platform;
  • Note the limits of the machine — if items to be washed aren’t spinning when the machine is in use, they are not getting clean  (plan on smaller loads).

We don’t do all of our laundry with our twin tub / portable laundry machine, but we do the majority of it and could probably get by with it solely, if needed — bedding and bath towels would be the main struggle. However, we’ve found that a twin tub can handle jeans and other heavy washing items, but just not many per load. We could also probably road-trip with our twin tub and drying racks if ever needed, noting the places I’ve stayed and volunteered where laundry machine access is limited.

In rainier seasons, I sometimes wash with the twin tub to save costs and maximize home time, and then head to the laundromat for drying and folding. Twin tubs seem to be an uncommon sight in the US currently, Regardless, I’m glad I gambled on these online and can’t quite imagine living without a twin tub (or buying and installing a heavy and expensive conventional washing machine) now.

*Be sure to follow guidance related to safe greywater use and operation of electrical appliances, and please note the site terms of use.

 

 

 

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