Laundry for tinyhouses or off grid
Okay, so to start with, some cool technologies you may or may not have heard of :
Cold water detergent (mind you, reviews of how well it actually works seem to be mixed, but I quite enjoyed the ingredients section of that site)
hand operatedplunger washer
ventless dryers includes centrifugal
The wash and rinse cycles are, I think, basically processes which get the clothing into equilibrium with the surrounding water (or water- detergent mixture aka “wash liquor”). Certainly the rinse cycle, anyway. I’m not as sure about the wash cycle, because the way it goes, is the greasy substances on the clothes come off into the water as “micelles”, colloidal sized globs of greasy stuff surrounded by detergent. Does all the greasy stuff get converted into this form? Well, not all of it, some must stay on the clothes, but I wonder how much…. If it all got converted, then in 1 wash cycle, the amount of greasy stuff that goes along with on the clothes would be proportional to the amount of water in the clothes divided by the amount of wash liquor in the chamber. So the wash cycle is a divide-by operation – divide contaminants on the clothes by (total wash liquor volume)/(liquor volume absorbed by clothes).
This matters, because 2 half size divide by operations can get the clothes cleaner than 1 full size operation, if the divide by is more than 2 (which it is). (x/2)^2=x^2/4 instead of just x. This could be used to get the clothes just as clean, with a lot less water and detergent. Same applies to the rinse cycle if you wanted to do a better rinse with less water.
Another thought is that the micelles can be removed from the water, while leaving the rest of the detergent in. Ultrafiltration can remove them. Not all the detergent gets used up in forming micelles, because there is a certain amount of detergent that must be present in the water before micelles even start to form. Only the detergent that is added In addition to that amount can be used to form micelles. If this worked, you could save the micelle-free water for the next round of washing, or use just a very small amount of wash liquor in the wash chamber, and as the wash cycle proceeds, continuously run the wash liquor through the, this could be used to greatly reduce the amount of detergent and water used. However, dissolved stuff would still accumulate…
Okay, but with regards to the machine, I was just thinking, if you have centrifugal drying machine, you don’t really need a machine with a spin cycle, do you? You might have to take the clothes out and put them through the centrifugal dryer in between the wash and rinse cycles, though (because this reduces the amount of wash liquor in the clothes, thusly increasing the value of the divide by operation mentioned above). There must be a lot of “broken” front loading machines around that can wash, but not do the high speed spin, that would be cheap or free.
You might be able to actually rinse the clothes in the drying machine, though, and save a bunch of water at the same time. Suppose the dryer is spinning. The clothes are pressed up against the side of the machine. You spray water on the inside layer of this wall of clothes, and it gets centrifuged through the clothing, displacing the dirty water. Voila. No dirty water in the clothes. Keep spinning until they are dry. You can get motor controllers that could be used to slow down the speed of the dryer while you do this, if the full speed is too high to safely open the lid. I just bought 2 of them for greenhouses, you just plug the motor into them, and they have a dial to adjust. They work much the same as a light dimmer, you can buy fan speed controllers at the hardware store too, which require you to wire them in. One problem with this is that it wouldn’t rinse out any particles or lint, but might be worth trying….
You can use the rinse water from the last load as the wash water for the next load, that’s fairly common.
I remember seeing a bigger version of that ultrasonic washer somewhere, called the “xcube”. Could be more suited to clothes.
I remember reading a nasa paper while doing research for the water recycler, that said the reason the ISS doesn’t have a laundry machine is because the detergent would be too taxing on the (physico-chemical based, a biological recycler would have no problem with it) water recycler. MIR had a washing machine. However, the authors said that ozone actually works pretty good in place of detergent. Could be worth further investigation.
Lastly, apparently that “laundry alternative” machine doesn’t work for beans, so forget that…
This post is a post from the archives I selected to update and repost. Since few if any of the current readers have read it, I thought it would be just as good as a newly written post.