A Homemade Washing Machine Shower

This alternative to the Saturday-night bath in a washtub converts a Maytag into a homemade washing machine shower by recycling washing machine water as shower water


| July/August 1982



076-072-01

An idea popped into my head: If the machine's pump could empty a tank of dirty laundry water, why couldn't it dispose of a tankful of clean liquid . . . and do so on my waiting head?


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Here's an alternative to the Saturday-night bath in a washtub by converting a Maytag into a homemade washing machine shower. 

A Homemade Washing Machine Shower

My friend and I acquired our homestead in the mountains of western Washington through the good graces of a pair of true pioneers. After that hardy couple had compiled over 160 years of life experience between them, they decided that residing ten miles from the nearest town and a mile from the road was no longer in their best interests. And when the two sold their property, my partner and I were the lucky buyers.

Our move from Seattle to the Cascade Mountains involved a complete change of lifestyle for us, and—like many back-to-the-landers—we put in our fair share of grimy, sweaty hours while shaping up the newly purchased acreage. During that period the one remnant of "civilization" that we both missed most was the chance to take an occasional honest-to-goodness hot shower. There were times when a dip in a nearby cold lake or a sponge bath just didn't measure up . . . and we began to think that heaven could be defined as the opportunity to simply stand under a hot spray forever.

Although our home would probably appear primitive to many people, however, we do have two amenities that make it possible to run a wringer washer: a cold water system (which connects with the outdoor faucets and an indoor sink) and electricity. And since we don't have a septic tank, we've set up the vintage Maytag in a sunny clearing amid some towering Douglas firs. A hose supplies the machine with cold water . . . an extension cord from the cabin furnishes the juice . . . and after the machine's done its work, the gray water drains into a hole in the ground beneath it.

One day while I was doing the wash (and getting rather hot and gritty myself in the process of cleaning our clothes), an idea popped into my head: If the machine's pump could empty a tank of dirty laundry water, why couldn't it dispose of a tankful of clean liquid . . . and do so on my waiting head?

A few days later, after the notion had percolated a bit, an adventuresome acquaintance came for a weekend visit. Within four hours from the time I shared my brainstorm, the Maytag shower was primed and ready to go.





dairy goat

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Aug. 5-6, 2017
Albany, Ore.

Discover a dazzling array of workshops and lectures designed to get you further down the path to independence and self-reliance.

LEARN MORE