Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bucket Laundry

Saturday morning is often laundry day for me. I start early in the morning so that the clothes have plenty of time to dry on the clotheslines of my front porch. This provides protections from any sudden tropical rains, but it also means that my clothes don't get the extra drying power from direct sunlight.

After moving into my cottage last September, I purchased two plastic buckets so I could do my own laundry. I didn't buy them at a store in the capital, which would have required transporting the bulky items on the long bus ride home. Instead, on Friday nights, there is a guy who drives up main street through our village selling various plastic items and other stuff from his van. This “department store on wheels” has a limited selection, but works out nice for purchases such as laundry buckets. I bought an orange one and a yellow one.

Part of our pre-service training on St. Lucia last summer was for our host families to teach us skills such as hand washing our clothes. My host mom there showed me how she does it. Everyone realizes the importance of scrubbing under the arms, but she encouraged me to also scrub the collar area and the inside seams. You don't just rub the soap against the fabric—you must grab different portions of the fabric and vigorously scrub them against each other.

I use this blue laundry soap that is popular down here. This picture shows a partial used bar sitting on top of its wrapper, with an unopened bar just below it.

After working in the first bucket (the soapy one), you wring out the water and then dip the clothing into the rinse bucket, going up and down several times. If necessary, the rinse water can be replaced with clean water depending on how soapy it gets. When thoroughly rinsed, the water is wrung out of the clothing so that it falls back into the washing bucket. Then, I lean over the edge of my porch and—as in the '80s Devo song—I “whip it, whip it good.”

Finally, I hang the item with clothes pins on the two clothes lines my landlord installed on my porch for drying my laundry. One lesson I learned “the hard way” was that it is important to take a rag and clean the dust off the lines prior to hanging up clean laundry.

Fortunately, my host family here has a washing machine at their house, so once a month I take my clothes down the road to their house for a “real washing.” My local host family takes good care of me, even after I moved into my own place.

I hope those of you back in the USA appreciate your automatic laundry machines after reading this story!

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