If you are interested in purchasing a wringer washer but are not sure where to look, there are plenty of places to hunt one down, though your local big-box store is not one of them. It depends on whether you want to buy one that's used, antique or brand new.
Most people alive today have probably never seen a wringer washer. They're making a comeback among the environmentally conscious, while others prize them for their retro decorative appeal.
The Different Types of Wringer Washers
Electric-powered wringer washers were introduced in the early years of the 20th century. Maytag made them until 1983, though by then they had long been supplanted by more modern machines that saved labor but used much more water.
The old wringer washers come in many sizes and shapes. The defining feature is that they have a tub with an agitator to move the suds through the laundry and dislodge dirt and grime, and then rinse it out. There is no spin cycle. You feed the laundry through the wringer to squeeze out the water.
Some old models are completely hand-operated while others are powered by electricity or gas.
If you're looking for an antique wringer washing machine, you probably won't find one at a moving sale. They're just too old to be common items in most modern households. Your best sources might be antique stores, Craigslist, Freecycle, eBay, estate sales, and auctions. You may also find a salvageable wringer washer at a dump site, landfill, or recycling center.
If you want one that will work after a few minor repairs, you can pick one up for $100 or less, even if you have to cobble together usable parts from different units. Most wringer washers are simple enough that you can repair and replace most of the parts yourself.
A pristine antique unit to use as decor will cost more.
For a new electric wringer washer, try lehmans.com. It sells its own brand, although it does not always have them in stock. Lehman's Home Queen Wringer Washer has a stainless steel tub that can hold 14 pounds of clothing and runs on 120V electricity. The manufacturer says it needs no water pressure and uses much less water than an automatic washing machine. It drains by gravity into a drain or bucket.
Several companies sell hand wringers designed to attach to the side of a washtub. Paired with a plunger for agitating the laundry, you can have an electricity-free wash setup.
If you need something for occasional use between trips to the Laundromat or on road trips, a product called the Wonderwash is small enough to sit on a countertop. It can wash up to five pounds of laundry at a time and sells for about $50.
Saving Water and Energy
Either a wringer washer or a washtub with a hand wringer uses less water than an automatic washer. You can wash multiple loads in the wash water, starting with the whites or the less dirty items, then progress to the dark colors and more soiled items. With 15 gallons of water for the wash and 15 to 30 gallons in a rinse basin, you will use less water than a single cycle of an automatic washing machine.
You can use the gray water from the wringer washer or tub to water your garden, saving on irrigation water. Combined with line drying your clothes, you can have a cost-saving laundry system you can use off the grid.