How The Plainest Amish Use Maytag Wringer Washers

How do the most traditional Amish use wringer washers? Maxwell Hodgkins, who shared posts on how the plainest Amish heat water and the glove-drying rack is back today with some video showing how wringer washers work in these most traditional Amish homes.

The wringer washer is the most common implement the Amish use to do their laundry. But without electricity, how to they run the machines? In these three video clips we see how the plainest Amish power and operate their washing machines.

Engine & Line Shaft

First, we see the Amishman start up the diesel gas engine which drives the line shaft. The shaft spins and has a series of pulleys which distribute the power to the washer.

Here you can see the pulley mechanism by the washer. The belt at the lower right leads up to the washing machine where it powers the agitator.

Wringer Mechanism & Water Supply

The Amishman also demonstrates the wringer mechanism, which can be pivoted to preferred position. We see the lever which reverses the direction of the wringer, in case something gets stuck, for instance.

He also demonstrates how he can release the top of the wringer mechanism to get any items (fingers?) quickly “unstuck”.

We next see how they get the water for the wash, including the heating setup (similar to that seen in the previous post).

Clip 1:

Agitator & Engine Brands

In the next clip, they’ve shut the engine off and the Amishman demonstrates how to engage and disengage the agitator.

They discuss the engine they use to power it, and the Amishman shares his preference as far as engine brands.

Clip 2:

Refurbishing a Maytag Washer

Finally, we get a look at another Maytag which as been torn apart and is due to be refurbished. The family here got the washer for free and next need to figure out how to get it up to speed.

They also discuss the option of getting a new wringer washer, which are apparently still available from at least one producer.

Clip 3:

For more on how the Amish in general do their laundry, check out this video:

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    1. David M Hill

      Been there

      We lived in the middle of a very conservative, very old and very large, Old Order Amish settlement for 2 years in the early 80s. Many approved tools including the washer was run with the assistance of a gasoline engine and pullies. Larger woodworking equipment and wells with a pumpjack used a small gasoline engine to make life a bit easier. Larger gas engines were used to operate threshing machines. Conveyors to put up silage.

    2. Becky

      Ringer washer

      We had one of these when I was about first or second grade I’m 60 now.
      I don’t really remember much since it was my mom doing the laundry I would’ve liked to seen them actually doing some laundry with it.

    3. David Stear

      Wringer washer

      My paternal grandmother had a wringer washer well into the 1960s and took in laundry as a way to make extra money. I was fascinated with the process of doing laundry with a wringer washer including the rinsing tubs of water with the wringer at the end with all the washed, wrung out and wet laundry put into a basket to take outside and hang on the clothesline in the back yard. The ritual of stringing up the clothesline on washday was in itself a somewhat involved procedure. I still recall handing pieces of laundry to my grandmother to secure on the line with clothespins so she wouldn’t have to bend down so much to take them from the basket. She also made her own lye laundry soap which was another procedure that involved saving grease from cooking. When the laundry was dry it had to be sprinkled with water and then ironed–she had an electric iron but I have seen how Amish women still use “sad” irons. It was all a tedious procedure from start to finish but still more interesting at that age than my mother’s “set it and forget it” automatic washer and dryer which my grandmother insisted didn’t get the laundry as clean as a wringer washer.

    4. Jackie M


      My Amish neighbors in NY ran their washer in the basement with a gasoline engine. They generally left a window open nearby but I always wondered about the carbon monoxide build up.

    5. elaine

      wringer washers

      we lived near a swartzentruber coummunity in heuvelton, new york for 8 years. during that time, we frequented with one amish family in particular, comfortably enough that when one of their daughters was to be married, we provided “all the fixins” for a “rehearsal dinner” for the two families the evening before the wedding. four varieties of ice cream, caramel, chocolate, and strawberry toppings, whipped cream, nuts, and marchino cherry’s. what a memorable evening.
      for the young couple, we purchased a gently used wringer washer and gave that to them as a wedding gift. not to long after the wedding, we received a thank you card, which i’m still not sure is common, but nevertheless a thoughtful gesture.
      we were blessed to have a small window into the miller family’s life during one of the most special days in the lives of an amish couple’s life.

      1. What a nice experience that must have been. Hope you’re still able to keep in touch

    6. Rod

      It’s not a diesel lol.

      That little Honda motor powering the washer is a gasoline unit. The pulleys are needed to keep the engine outside. Many Amish families just wheel the washer outside from a shed or garage with the gasoline engine attached. The spark plug on this engine gave it away. Sounds like a gas engine as well.
      The dirtiest water I’ve ever seen was from a Maytag washer after completing a few well soiled sets of work clothes. Options on a Maytag washer were an ice cream maker and a sausage stuffer. Very rare and collectible.

      1. Lol is right 🙂 Thanks Rod I fixed it, sloppy on my side. Remembering how we used to make homemade ice cream growing up, I could see a Maytag being used for that purpose. But I wouldn’t have guess sausage stuffer!

        1. Marcus Yoder

          Maytag washer

          I have a collection of Maytag gas engines, also a couple of washers, a meat grinder, and a butter churn.
          Marcus Yoder

    7. Lydia Good

      The old Maytag washer

      After my parents died and w had the “sale”, I bought mom’s Maytag washer. Why? For the memories.

    8. Maytag Washers

      Every Amish family I know personally owns a Maytag washer that’s hooked up to a generator. When I was just a little boy both of my grandmothers had Maytags. Maybe that’s why there are still lots of them around they being ubiquitous!