Two years ago I moved from an apartment with in-unit laundry to a fourth-floor walk-up without laundry in the building. The tradeoffs of living alone for the first time with lots of natural light and more room for my 55-pound dog seemed like worthwhile exchanges. Naturally, the laundry situation would sort itself out. How hard could it be?
Most apartment dwellers will not be surprised when I say that laundry became a constant struggle, from the very day I arrived in my new place with what seemed like a reasonable amount of clothing at the time. Doing my laundry at a laundromat myself was annoying and time-consuming and pretty detrimental to my back, but the only other option—paying a stranger to touch my unwashed unmentionables—wasn’t compelling or budget-friendly, so I’d grit my teeth and (infrequently) bear it.
Flash forward to the present day of trying to do laundry during a global pandemic and the annoyances now seem far outmatched by the physical risks. While laundromats are considered an essential service in New York City, several in my neighborhood have shut down and my hamper is more than overflowing. (Okay, I have multiple hampers, and ubiquitous IKEA bags—and they’re all at capacity.)
After one nerve-wracking attempt at the laundromat with a mask and gloves, I decided that I definitely wasn’t comfortable spending 90 minutes inside the tiny, windowless space. So, I resorted to the internet for the most creative solutions for sustainable, in-home washing machine replacements.
Here is everything you need to set up your own wash-and-fold at home during social distancing, and beyond.
Portable Washing Machine
This apartment-sized washer has more than 3,300 reviews, and is perfect for smaller loads. You can set it up in your shower or tub for easy filling and draining. Clothes spin to partially dry, cutting down the time you’ll need to air-dry. Rinse and repeat until you’re all caught up on the washing.
Non-Electric Washing Machine
If you don’t mind using a little extra elbow grease, this non-electric compact washing machine is hand-crank-operated and can double as your workout for the day.
Breathing Mobile Washer
Okay, yes, it looks like a plunger, but this alternative to handwashing features a design with ridges to encourage bubbling and sudsing. Another eco-friendly tool, it’s electricity-free and you control the water levels.
Heavy-Duty Drying Rack
This drying rack fits a ton of clothes and folds away discreetly for when laundry isn’t top of mind.
If you’re looking for a solution that isn’t your bathtub and can be used around the house for cleaning, painting, or soaking.
This option has wheels to easily roll your dirty clothes out of sight—and the narrow structure makes it perfect for tucking away.
Easy on your delicates and easy on the planet.