DIY clothes washer/wringer

We’ve come across a few ideas for DIY washing machines and have picked out an example that is both simple and compact. We’ve combined a couple ideas we’ve seen into a washer and wringer setup. While there are more efficient ways to wash your laundry if you have more space, this compact design keeps everything in one bucket stack, great for places where you don’t have much space, like camper vans.

For this project you’ll need:

  • 3 buckets
  • 1 lid
  • 1 regular plunger (there are specific washing plungers out there but tests we’ve come across say a regular plunger actually works better)
  • Optional: bulkhead tap

To make:

  1. Make a hole the size of the plunger handle in the lid (optional: reinforce with bulkhead fitting)
  2. Make multiple holes in the bottom of 1 of the buckets
  3. Optional: add bulkhead tap to bottom of 1 bucket (not the one with holes in the bottom)
    Tip: brew buckets come already with tap and hole in lid.

To use washer you will need:

  • 1 bucket (without holes, with optional tap)
  • Lid with hole
  • Plunger
  1. Place clothes, water, and soap nuts/detergent in bucket
  2. Stand plunger in and feed handle through hole in lid
  3. Make sure lid is securely fastened
  4. Plunge plunger up and down to agitate clothes
  5. Drain and replace water, repeat without soap to rinse

To use wringer you will need:

  • 2 buckets without holes (one with optional tap)
  • 1 bucket with holes
  • Lid
  1. Place holey bucket inside bucket without holes (with optional tap)
  2. Place wet clothes inside bucket with holes
  3. Place remaining bucket with lid on top
  4. Sit on the bucket stack, this will compress the clothes in the holey bucket, pressing the water out into bottom bucket
  5. Drain water from bottom bucket (you can simply leave the tap open if you’ve included a tap)
  6. Repeat as necessary

Note: this method will release a lot of the water in clothes but you may still want to give them a final wring. However, the wringing process will be much easier than if done straight from washing as much of the water and therefore weight has already been removed.


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