Five Minute Friday: Laundry

Alright, it’s been awhile, but now it’s time for another Five Minute Friday.  I laughed when I saw the prompt: laundry.  I’m an American living in rural Africa, and laundry is one of my biggest tasks here.  So, enjoy reading how I do my laundry.  I’m writing for five minutes, minimal editing, with hundreds of women from around the world.  That’s Five Minute Friday, which you can check it out here.

My clothesline, between two mango trees.



I haul out my big basin, and line up a smaller basin and a bucket next to them.  Haul a few buckets of water into my room from the tap outside, and boil some in my kettle.  Fill the three basins, add soap, and then the lightest color clothes I have.

Wait an hour or so to soap.

Then it’s time to scrub.  Sometimes, until my hands are red and aching.  African woman don’t use washboards, and neither do I.  Just some elbow grease.

Wring out each item, then rinse twice.

Finally, I head outside to string my clothes on the line.

I repeat this process for each “load”, which is determined by color.  Pants are last, and the bane of my laundry time.  Pants are extremely hard to wring out, and take too long to wash.  Therefore, I often wear skirts or dresses.

A few years ago, doing laundry involved walking downstairs and throwing a too-big load into the washer and pushing a button.  I’d forget about it for however long, then unload into the dryer.

I thought that was hard work.

HA!  Nowadays, living without running water in rural Africa, what I wear is sometimes determined by whether I want to wash it.  Laundry takes hours, and I’m single.  I live alone.  I can’t imagine what it must be like for a family.

And I’m lucky because I have a water source in my yard.  Most women in my village must haul water from a communal tap, and many take their clothes down to the river to wash.

Oh I look forward to the days of First World laundry.  And at the same time I’m blessed to know how the Third World accomplishes this task.  How millions of women in the world do it.

And it’s even a little bit peaceful.  Unless it starts to rain when my laundry is on the line.




5 thoughts on “Five Minute Friday: Laundry

  1. Rain on freshly washed laundry is the worst! Especially when you’ve wrung it out by hand. Do you have any troubles with flies laying their eggs on your clothes while they hang to dry? That was a big problem in Cameroon…

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