I don't have my own washing machine, which means that I let my laundry go until the last possible moment, then nearly lose a digit or two while lugging the hamper weighing 48 metric tons across the street and through the parking lot to my laundromat. Granted, it's only a 5 minute walk.
But this doesn't change the fact that laundry blows. I never have 2 hours to sacrifice in the alarmingly-humid laundromat watching my clothes spin round and round.
And then there's the cost: probably 12-15 dollars each time I head over there.
Finally: the environmental impact. I don't air dry my stuff because there's only so much my shower rod can hold. Plus, there's a pretty significant yuck factor involved in trudging back across the street with a pile of wet (and therefore more heavy) stuff. Mildew. Ew. So I use the dryer, and I use a pretty high setting so as to be freed from this laudry prison as quick as possible.
There has to be a better solution, I think to myself.
I tried washing stuff in the sink, but it takes forEVER and it isn't really that effective. At least not how I was doing it. Plus, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was actually using MORE water than your average washing machine with the endless stream.
And so I start browsing websites. Enter the WONDER WASH!:
It's tiny, but works really really well in my initial tests. I fit 2 long-sleeved tees, 4 pair of undies, 3 tank tops, one pair of jeans, a hoodie, pajama pants, and a stowaway sock in the first go round. Then I pour in 6 quarts (3 gallons) of water* and twist on the pressure lid. Apparenlty it's this cool lid that creates the magic, because it causes the water and the detergent to shoot through the clothes really fast..... or something. You crank the knob for 2 minutes, and then drain using this cool little valve you pop in the bottom. Then, you either rinse in the machine (I put 4 more quarts in, rounding it out to 5 gallons per load) or by hand.
Voila! The load is the exact amount I can drape in the bathroom immediately, which is important while it's still cold out and I can't hang stuff on a line without it freezing. It cost around 40 dollars, doesn't use electricity, and uses less water than any other little guy I know anything about. The clincher: I can do laundry in my underwear at 3 in the morning. This may not appeal to everyone, but it does it for me. I figure it will pay for itself completely in less than a month considering the piles upon piles of clothes I have hidden in my closet waiting for a proper wash.
You can get it a bunch of places, but I found it here: http://www.laundry-alternative.com/washing.htm
*The instructions say to use hot water, but I've tested it and unless your clothes are really really soiled, this doesn't seem to make a difference. Also, you can get away with less water if you are ok with cranking a bit longer.