Converting a Washing Machine Into a Homemade Cider Press

Here's how to convert a washing machine into a homemade cider press. The article includes step-by-step building instructions, photographs and a cutaway diagram of the converted Maytag washing machine.

| September/October 1982

MOTHER's readers have learned how to convert a washing machine into a cement mixer, a potter's wheel, and an outdoor shower. Well, here's another idea for recycling this appliance: a homemade cider press. See readers' adaptations of these plans — and watch washing-machine-cider-makers in operation — on YouTube at Apple Cider Making With a Washing Machine and Making Apple Cider With a Clothes Washer.

How to Convert a Washing Machine to Make Cider

I've long marveled at the ingenious workings of the countertop juicer my wife Sandie and I own. This particular model — made by Acme — uses centrifugal force to separate the liquid from the pulp after all the juicy material has been chewed to bits. Not only is the concept fascinating, but the machine is also very well made, and it's been more than satisfactory for making a few quarts of juice at a time.

Because we have access to large quantities of free apples, I decided to pay homage to the Acme's intriguing design by incorporating the same principles in a larger juice extractor. And (over Sandie's strenuous objections) I figured that the family washing machine was a prime candidate for conversion into a motorized homemade cider press — or, more accurately, a juice extractor.

After dang near having my marriage license revoked for asking, I was eventually given the privilege of tinkering with the machine. First, I opened the top of the metal cabinet and removed all the unneeded hardware, gaining access to the porcelain/steel tub. I also removed the agitator from its shaft. Then I began to build a shredder by using a jigsaw to cut a doughnut-shaped piece of three-quarters-inch exterior-grade plywood to fit the bottom of the washing machine's perforated basket. (To build a shredder that's easier to install inside the tub, you could make it collapsible by cutting the disk into two pieces along the circle's diameter and then hinging those pieces together.) With that done, I drove several hundred 1-inch panel nails through the plywood so their protruding points would serve as the apple-shredder's teeth. To give the newly fashioned shredder a firm foundation, I placed it on three feet, each cut from a 2-by-4 and glued and nailed in place. Finally, I fastened the assembly to the basket with three screws, one in each foot, through perforations in the bottom of the machine's tub.

To hold the apples while the nails shredded them, I made a bridge assembly to span the top of the machine and support the feed tube (pictured in the slide show). The bridge is formed of two 1-by-8 boards, which cross off-center on one side of the agitator shaft (adjust the board length to fit the surface of your machine). Board spacers should be added to the underside of the top crosspiece so that the bridge will sit level on the top of your machine. You should also add vertical boards at the ends to hold the bridge snugly in place. At the point on the bridge where the two boards cross, I cut a hole just large enough to force in a piece of new 4-inch plastic pipe. I pushed the lower end of the pipe down to within a quarter-inch of the shredder's nail points and sealed it to the bridge with a liberal amount of epoxy. To stabilize the feed tube, you may need to add additional wooden blocks to the bottom of the crosspiece.

At this point, if you dropped an apple down the fruit chute with the basket spinning, the nails would chew it to bits and the washer's centrifugal force would throw those pieces through the holes in the basket and into the pump. To prevent this from happening, I lined my tub with a filter made of several yards of sheer nylon mesh, plus another layer of fiberglass screening.

9/16/2015 9:20:58 AM

attach a sketch

9/17/2014 2:40:41 PM

No mention whatsoever is made of the cleaning process that would be necessary to ensure that no detergent or bleach residue resided inside the machine or its drain line. After all, the juice DOES pass through more than just the "tub" to reach those awaiting jars. BIG oversight and potential headache.

11/3/2008 8:50:48 PM

Is there any way to order the detailed plans and pay by credit card so that I can ge them quickly? thanks

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!