I remember seeing a lot of these (or a very similar brand) in the Real Goods outlet store 'way back when they had one in Berkeley. All had been used and none had any original packaging with them. That gave me pause.
Now, even if this is a different, more efficient product, they are probably fine for a single person doing laundry, or two people living in an RV. I think for a family that you're actually wasting more time/energy (that you could use doing more productive things) than it's worth. I know with one of the new washers they advertised that it held 16 pairs of jeans (of varying sizes the commercial said) in one load. That is a tremendous time- and worksaver. You might find that with judicious repeat wearing of clothes that a decent washer will quickly pay for itself. Also if you use only biodegradable detergents, you can use the water elsewhere. I don't know about the disks or "balls", I would think an old but clean "odd" sneaker does the same thing, which is to increase the agitation factor somewhat.
And yes, the Staber is probably top of the line for front loaders, but there are several American brand front loaders out there too that aren't too bad, and aren't as expensive. I have a Frigidaire Gallery, and am pretty happy with it. My main gripe is that it is not good for soaking because the water does not come above the gasket (which is an issue with any front loader, by the way). When we first looked at frontloaders, the salesperson pointed out that one of the other brands had a problem with sand collecting at the bottom because the drum was slightly canted.
I understand that there has been quite a bit of progress made as far as making top loaders more efficient these days, even removing their central agitators, so when this one gives up the ghost I may go back to a top loader.
I have one, and it uses about 4 gal per rinse. I usually rinse once with plain water, and once with about 1/2 cup of vinigar added to the water. I live alone, and figure on about 4 loads a week. If the clothes are real dirty, I soak over night, and wash the next day.
I really like mine, and it saves a bundle on laundramat costs. I used to wash two loads a week.... about $16 a month.
Thanks for the responses. One reason why I can't get a staber or similar is because we don't have electricity. I forgot to mention that in a previous thread. So I was just trying to figure out a way to wash clothes by hand with the least amount of water since we don't have water either. We plan to catch water off the roof and we also have a seasonal creek that may be helpful.
Anyway, but I think I can save as much water using old fashioned wash tubs and reusing the rinse water for wash water than I can using the power washer. This was the info. I needed to confirm that. I also emailed the manufacturer and they said basically the same thing....3-3.5 gallons per rinse.
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