Hand-powered washing machine

Made in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia, 1991.

This washing machine is an example of the rugged well-designed products made by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) for use in remote Australian communities. It was part of a program aimed at providing training and jobs for Indigenous people and making products that would be useful to communities and could be repaired using local resources.

The machine also represents the international appropriate design movement. This approach developed in the late 1960s from the California-based Hipp...


Washing machine, metal/fibreglass/paint/plastic/rubber, Centre for Appropriate Technology, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia, 1991.

The body of the washing machine is a white-painted fibreglass and metal open-topped drum. It is supported on a steel-angle frame. The handle moves a plastic impeller via springs and levers. A hose attached to the bottom of the drum allows water to be drained from the machine after use.


1100 mm
830 mm
600 mm


The washing machine was designed and made by the Centre for Appropriate Technology, part of the Community College of Central Australia in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia. The Centre was established in 1980, and the machine was made in 1991.

The design brief used client criteria for isolated Aboriginal communities. For example, cultural criteria called for the machine to be used by women and children only, and environmental criteria called for manual rather than electric operation.


Purchased 1992
1 January, 1970

Cite this Object

Hand-powered washing machine 2016, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 17 November 2017, <https://ma.as/126962>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/126962 |title=Hand-powered washing machine |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=17 November 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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