Since I moved to my village last September, my family has done their laundry in the washing machine in the garage. (Yes, my family has a washing machine and a garage, two unusual things in my village). I had never used their washing machine, for a few reasons. During PST, a few PCVs had access to a washer, and they said it didn’t always get the clothes as clean as handwashing. The washer uses a lot more water and electricity. I never had a whole lot of laundry, so doing it by hand wasn’t too hard and gave me something to do. Oh yeah, and I didn’t know how to use it.
Last weekend, my host Mom came up and told me in Setswana to not do my laundry and take it to Sele, my host sister. I didn’t really want them to do my laundry, but I also just didn’t feel like doing it by hand. So I asked Sele to show me how to do it, so next time I could do it myself. I may have slightly offended her by wanting to do it myself, but I was trying to avoid the “white person making the black person do their household chores” post-Apartheid what what. Whoops. Can’t win them all, I guess.
Anyways, eish, using the washing machine is fairly complicated. First, you have to realize that we have a washer, but no running water. Think about that. So we hook the yard hose up to the tap and pipe the water into the washing basin. It’s not exactly the easy laundry regime that you find in the states. Then you set the machine to wash for 15 mins, then put it in the spin cycle. There is no dryer, but the washer does include the spinner, which is amazing, and leaves my clothes nearly dry. You have to make sure the hose from the spinner is pointing into the wash basin, to reuse the water. After that, you take it out, dunk the clothes in the basin of water and fabric softener (which I just discovered and is amazing), then do the spin cycle again. But before you put the load in the spinner again, you have to wipe out the spinner because it gets dirty. You also have to make sure the hose from the spinner is in a bucket this time, so the softener water doesn’t get in the wash water (which you reuse). Then you take them out and hang on the line.
It’s kind of a lot to remember. But I did it all by myself yesterday, and my clothes are clean, dry, and smelling awesome. I’m sure I’ll be using it again, because once you get the hand of it, using the washer is pretty awesome. And still pretty entertaining/gives me something to do.