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There are pretty small models that actually work well. I've seen an RV:er use it on Youtube, but it should fit in a van as well. Does require AC power though. The main benefit really would be the integrated spin dryer, instead of having to try to wring clothes out and dry them. The spin drier gets 90% of the water out of them, so you can just hang them out to dry for a short time and boom.
The most anyone has to lose with getting one is spending the $100 one costs just to see if it works. If it turns out to be too much of a pain, well, $100 is money but it's not going to break most people.
Personally I'm going to try one (once I get the van...) And if not that then at least a countertop spin dryer, that seems to me more useful than a washer, worst case you can hand wash but drying would probably help more.
You can also go more manual, I suppose.
From what I hear from people who use them, they do the job just fine.
I use a different version: I use one of the little hand-cranked washing machines from Amazon like this one:
It also does the job just fine.
As for how often, it depends on how much clothing you have and how many times you wear it before laundering (and the weather: in summer t-shirts get rank after just a day or two). I usually do laundry every ten days or so.
Hopefully next month we will be getting one of these From all the reviews I seen on youtube it works really well and is much easier than the bucket/plunger method I have been using. But our landlord pays for water (even hot water) so I just cannot justify using the coin laundry in our building especially since I do not work.
This is the only portable washer I have experience with: [link]
It is a hand crank washer. It can hold about 1/4 of a full washing machine load. I use it for my bras and nice shirts because my HE washing machine is really hard on delicates.
It takes about 15 minutes to do a load in it. 200 cranks with hot water and soap, drain, 200 cranks with cold water rinse, drain, 100 cranks with cold water rinse, then hang dry the clothes.
I think it would work well for multiple baby outfits and a blanket or 2. I don't think I would do diapers in it. It doesn't create enough agitation for cloth diapers.
Maybe someone has a better electric solution.
I have several friends that use these and really like them. easy to use and definitely cheap
can you ship stuff in from out of country? theres some ideas here and here to make your life easier and not cost any electric .. check these out ..
not saying your poor but am pointing out a money savor so the old lady cant cry about how your wasting elect with your washer ..
theres that one .. and then theres this which I have and use for small clothes like bras and underwares hand powered and silent ..
==== Personally I think MiL wants you to have to come down and do wash in her house so that 1 she has company/ 2 makes you suffer the pain of hauling wash up and down the stairs / 3 making sure you do laundry "right".. this is about control of course but yanno the washer you don't use cant be charged against you .. dunno I am a smart ass tho so would go for the non electric machines simply because she has no leg to bitch about them ..
This one dosen't need to be plug into the sink but it does require for you to spin it.
This is another option for you
Something I want would be this nifty little mini-washing machine. I'd love to be able to do small loads without needing to waste a whole lot of water. My goal this year is to go greener! :-)
Something I neeeeed, is this little USB fan. My office gets so dang warm. I'd love a direct source of breeze, haha!
It's like this one:
does the job just fine. :)
Give that a try
If you're that concerned about the potential fibers-in-the-water you could look into something like the Wonderwash and reuse the water in your garden or send it through some filtering system before dumping it in your yard. I don't know where you live, but water reclamation plants are really quite excellent at preventing house hold waste to go straight into the oceans without going through major filtering....So it could be that you're worried over naught--but that would, of course, depend on where you are and what system is in place.
Personally, cloth diapering is already a lot on top of dealing with recovering from childbirth and dealing with the chaos of having a little one in your life, so I wouldn't necessarily move to use a wonderwash "just because;" however, it's something that I've found is excellent while camping and it is effective at cleaning diapers. And some people I know use it because they're trying to decrease their overall water consumption, so, on that front, it's a solid success as well.
As a side note, Japanese use water from their baths to do laundry, they sell pump kits to drain the tub and fill the machine, so if protecting your water source/water ways is that big of a deal you might look into that as a viable option as well.
I haven't actually tried one yet, but some people seem to like these a lot:
That one's kind of pricey. Amazon has some that are more reasonable. For example, I've been looking at this one
this looks kinda fancy!. It's just a washer, but you can get a retractable clothesline to hang your clothes.
Get one of these. It puts the water under pressure so detergent is forced into the clothes without mechanical agitation. Then just air dry them.
There is a tabletop hand crank washing machine that you could use.
You can always get a portable hand crank washer. It uses no electricity and you just fill it up in the bathtub. Here is an example of one [link]
$49 hand washer. Specifically designed for small, frequent loads like diapers.