Washing machines are versatile instruments, and they’ve been used in many applications which have nothing to do with getting your whites white. I’ve seen them converted into Sten guns in WWII and their timers connected to IEDs in Iraq, but 3 students from Cuiaba, Brazil, have come up with a use for it that actually helps people. Because of the rampant hunger in their country, Cleiton Silva Soares, Pitter Wesley dos Santos Oliveira and Gleberson Sena Souza, decided there needed to be a practical solution to feed low-income families, and it had to make economic sense. They settled on having the families produce bread at home, saving money versus buying it in the store, but as anyone who’s made bread from hand knows, it’s a LOT of work.
So they decided to make dough mixers, and to make them out of materials that were cheap and abundant: old washing machine parts. They pulled some parts together; the motor, the agitator, the drum, etc., and built an easily serviceable mixer that could be repaired in the field for little or no cost by just about anyone. Under their trial tests the mixer was given to families to produce bread for the community nursery. The results are that the mixer helped reduce the average monthly cost of bread per family from $30.45 to $14.70 (US dollars). For a family living on very little income, that 52% difference is quite a big one. Unless Brazil runs out of old washing machine parts, which is unlikely, these launderers / bread makers will be populating rural communities very soon.