5 New uses for a broken washing machine (Video)

Quinn Comedant
CC BY 1.0 Quinn Comedant

It has been said that washing machines are the unsung workhorses of the home; rarely do we notice the convenience they impart upon our lives -- that is, until they falter and die. Sometimes, despite the best maintenance practices, owners of energy-efficient, water-saving front-loading models may have been unexpectedly disappointed with their machines dying early, or even smelling moldy -- something that is apparently widespread enough to have become the focus of a recent lawsuit.

In any case, if your trusty washing machine has finally thrown in the towel (pun intended), making it unfit for repair or reselling, then here are some suggestions on what you could do with this broken appliance.

1. Transform a broken washing machine in stylish furniture

We've seen this before on TreeHugger where creative-minded folks have turned trashed washing machines into lovely furniture, be it gorgeous patterned stools or funky lamps made from old washing machine drums. The point is, washing machines can be resourcefully salvaged in this way, turning something old and broken into something new and fresh. Check out this post on how to make a washing machine chair yourself.

2. Convert the drum into a fire pit

This is a pretty easy one where you can take out the drum, put it on some fire-resistant surface and turn it into a stainless steel fire pit, great for hanging out during those long, balmy summer evenings. The drum's holes will directly supply lots of oxygen to make a big, toasty fire. If you're hungry, you can put a metal grate on top to transform this DIY fire pit into a BBQ (check out this Instructables on creating a patio heater, and $10 fire pit from House and Fig).

3. Give a new home for your plants

Valerie Everett/CC BY 1.0

Another great way to salvage your washing machine drum is to turn it into an extra large planter. Perhaps a new paint job, setting it on a brick base, adding some soil and compost, and voila! a spacious home for your beloved plants.

4. Build a free energy machine for off-grid living

User Buddhanz1 made this intriguing energy-generating contraption from a dead washing machine:

A step by step guide showing how to convert a smartdrive washing machine into a pelton wheel dc generator making 780 watts, the power is fed into a small battery bank & inverter - generating enough power to live off the grid. All you need is a head of water. I am using water from my stream to spin the turbine.

5. Reuse the washing machine's parts for other projects

Lovro Oreskovic/CC BY 1.0

If you are feeling particularly ambitious, you can rescue the various parts from a non-working machine to be reused in other projects. User Dr Qui over at Instructables provides an awesome list, along with photos showing the dissasembly of his machine down to its precious and ultra-useful innards:

Bearings and a casting the could be used for a wind turbine.

The glass door. Makes a cool bowl or could be used as a port hole style window.

The motor, could be used to power another project or you could add magnets and make a generator for a wind power project.

A water pump. some of these have simple monopole motors whit magnets in and make a nice little generator but they do tend to cog a fair bit.

The wiring loom. there are loads of nice long decent quality wires all crimped with spade connections. A as always you never know when those nice made up wires will come in handy.

Assorted switches and solenoid valves. all kinds of interesting gubbins.

The metal case. a good source of sheet metal for other projects.

Nuts, bolts, screws, washers, pipe clips and brackets, I had a box full of bits that would cost quite a bit to buy in a hardware store.

Inspired and relieved that you can still save that old washing machine? Read our related links in the sidebar for more ideas.

Tags: Laundry | Recycled Consumer Goods