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How to make a toy washing machine from a cardboard box

These instructions are intended as a guide for adults. Children should be supervised at all times if using scissors. Please keep craft knives out of reach of young children. The toy itself should be kept out of reach of children under three due to the small parts used for the dials.

You will need:

A suitably shaped cardboard box
A piece of thin cardboard approx. 30cm by 30cm (large enough to fit a dinner plate on)

A piece of clear plastic, either recycled from packaging, or I used a laminated sheet. You could also use a plastic wallet.

Four lids. I used two from milk bottles and two from juice cartons.

Masking tape

Sticky tape

A ruler

Scissors and/or craft knife

White paint

PVA glue

Black fine-tipped pen

Step One:

Reuse a suitably shaped cardboard box. Mine measures 32cm x 42cm x 32cm but yours can be whatever size you have. If yours has print on it, carefully unstick the base and one side so you can turn it inside out and re-stick it back into a cube. Use masking tape to reseal the box on all sides so it is completely closed.


Step Two:

Paint the box white or silver (optional) on all sides and top.


Step Three:

You will need two different sized plates. I used child and adult ones.

Decide which face of your box will be the front of your washing machine.

Position the smaller of the two plates on that face so that the spacing to the left and right is equal but there is more space at the top than the bottom. This is because you need to leave enough space at the top for the dials.  


Step Four:

Use a ruler to draw a straight line vertically on the left of the circle from top to bottom. This will be the hinge of the door.


Step Five:

Carefully use scissors or a craft knife to cut along this straight line (where I'm pointing in the picture) and around the rest of the circle so you have a D shaped hole in the box. Place the cut out piece to one side for later use.


Step Six:

Draw around the larger of the two plates on another piece of cardboard and cut this out. 

IMG_2797 (1).JPG

Step Seven:

Place the smaller plate centrally on this cardboard circle. Draw around and cut out in a repeat of the D shape. This will be the door so don't stick it to the box yet.


Step Eight:

Fold the circle along the straight side of the D, so it opens and closes like a door. Use PVA glue to stick the left part of the brown cardboard to the white box.


Step Nine:

Using the large plate again, cut a piece of clear plastic to size. I used an empty laminator pouch that I had already laminated to make stiff. You could use any clear plastic. Attach with sticky tape on the reverse of the door.


Step Ten:

Using PVA, stick one of the bottle tops to the right hand side of the door to act as a handle.


Step Eleven:

Using the piece of cardboard that you set aside in step 5, cut a square and a rectangle to act as the soap drawer. Stick these together using PVA glue then attach to the upper left of the box (see picture below).


Step Twelve:

Attach the remaining three bottle tops and use the black pen to add details (see below). 


When everything is dry, pop some small items of clothing inside. Hang a length of string to act as a washing line and have a basket of pegs nearby. Let your little one enjoy hanging up the clothes to dry. 

*Always supervise this activity, the washing line and 'dials' could pose a strangulation or choking hazard.