The $50 Amazon Find That Instantly Transforms My Bathtub into a Washing Machine

updated Jan 25, 2024
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Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

There’s more than one way to wash your clothes, and trust me: I’ve tried plenty. We’re talking last-minute scrubs in the sink with trial-size detergent to hand-cranking a washing machine in my living room like an old-fashioned ice cream maker. In my never-ending quest for quick solutions in between laundry days, I came across Lehman’s ManualWasher — and thank goodness I did.

It’s a simple device, but I was a little uncertain after putting it together. For starters, it’s close to three feet tall — over half my height — which made me immediately think about how I was going to store it. The washer breaks down into seven parts and comes with a conveniently sized canvas drawstring bag to store the pieces. I personally had a hard time disassembling it entirely, as some parts were removed with more ease than others, but that could be due to my own lack of strength.

Two basins are needed before using the Washer: one for washing the soapy clothes and another for rinsing them. I considered using my bathtub to get the job done, but unless you’re washing a large load of clothes, a smaller bucket or the sink will do. To test out this nifty find, I unfolded my collapsible laundry basket and filled it with warm water and laundry detergent as instructed. There’s no flash or finesse when it comes to using Lehman’s Manual Washer, which I appreciated. It does exactly as it says: breathes the dirt out.

Once the clothes were in, I pushed the washer into the water like a plunger, repeating the up-and-down motion. Every time I pulled up, the washer made a noise that sounded similar to a gasp, as if it was surprised at how quickly the grime was removed from the garments, just like I was. The mobile washer acts as a manual agitator, pressing against the clothing to get the filth out. And the length of the device actually turned out to be convenient, as I could stand comfortably while using it.

I cleaned my sink in preparation for the rinsing process, filling it with cold water before transferring the clothes from the bucket on the floor below. However, this was where the Breathing Washer’s height became an issue. To rinse, the device is used in the same manner as washing, but with the sink being significantly higher than the floor, the handle now stretched above my head. Fortunately, its rod can be split into three sections in order to adjust the height as needed. Though I still struggled with removing one of the bars, it was easier to maneuver in the sink after I did. From my experience testing out the Wonder Wash, I decided to rinse the clothes twice before hand-wringing and hanging them to dry on a wall-mounted drying rack.

Before I tried it, I didn’t think I would want to use the Manual Washer regularly. However, after going through the washing process and seeing how squeaky clean my clothes came out, I now can’t wait to use it again. It’s great for apartment dwellers who don’t have laundry access in their building, and doesn’t take a lot of work to put away once the initial disassembly hiccups are smoothed out. The instructions don’t explicitly say how many plunges it takes to make your clothes clean, so I used my own judgment based on how much dirt came out. After some research, I discovered that the plunge count varies, depending on the load and how soiled the clothes are. One Amazon review said, “I do my wash in a 5-gallon bucket, and I only wash less than 10 pieces at a time so that they can move around in the wash water. Having said that, I’ve found that my clothes are clean and ready to be rinsed after about 15 to 20 pumps.” I think I’ll try that method next time.

What I liked best about Lehman’s Manual Washer is that my clothes looked and felt clean afterwards, and each garment dried nice and soft, just like it would with a traditional washing machine. It was generally fun to use, and didn’t take a lot of time to complete a full wash cycle. I don’t think I’m ready to attempt a full load of laundry with this device, but others have done so and garnered good results. The next time I need to do laundry in a pinch, I know where to turn!