How To: Hand Wash Clothes

How To: Hand Wash Clothes

One of the first things we learned in training was how to hand wash clothes.

It would have been great if someone showed this to me years ago.  If you’re traveling for an extended period of time, you’re washing machine breaks down, or you don’t want to pay for dry cleaning, knowing how to hand wash clothes is a useful skill.  Here in Namibia however, it’s a necessary skill.  The way it’s really come through for me so far is in the prevention of laundry disasters.  The water changes color so deeply, you’d be crazy to throw a white shirt in there.  Oh and I’ve never lost a sock!  This confirms that washing machines do in fact eat socks.

  1. Fill up the bathtub with water, and pour in the hand washing powder. 

    hand wash clothes
    Usually watching a movie while I work.
  2. Dissolve the soap in water before putting the clothes in, so it helps if the water is hot. 

    hand wash clothes
    So lucky to have hot water, and running water for that matter.
  3. If the clothes are really dirty, you might want to do two rounds with soap.

    hand wash clothes

  4. Scrub the clothes together, then rinse.

    hand wash clothes
    Turn them inside out and focus on the arm pits, or they might still smell when you’re done.
  5. Wring the clothes dry.  Carry them outside, and hang (without dropping them on the dirt!).

    hand wash clothes

Repeating this process for each color takes about three hours total.  Once the clothes (but not your underwear, oh the scandal!) are hung up to dry, you sit on the porch for a few hours to make sure nobody relieves you of them.  Luckily the drying goes fast in this hot dry land of Namibia.  After two years of breaking my back to scrub my clothes, laundry in the U.S. will feel more like a modern miracle and less like a chore.

weens
Meet the author / weens

8 Comments

  • Barbara Damon

    Watching you using the bathtub for washing clothes brings me back to my freshman year in college when in an effort to save money, I did the same thing. However, I imitated the agitation of the machine by stomping the clothes with my bare feet similar to women crushing grapes. I found the hardest thing was wringing them out. My mother had a wringer/washer — two rollers that you could feed the clothes into. You had to be careful not to wring your hand through. My brother had his arm wrung and screamed bloody murder while my mother had to reverse the wringers to get it out. Fortunately it was not broken only badly bruised. Natural fibers were easier to clean — particularly the smell — unlike synthetic fibers that seem to permanently maintain odors.

    Love, Baba

    • weens

      you’re right! now that I think about it the cotton shirts clean way better. Those rollers sound useful, I’m surprised they aren’t a thing people use here since the whole country hand washes their clothes.

  • Janis Gilley

    I should have had lessons in this in the W/O dorms. Sorry!

  • Barbara Damon

    Am surprised there are no wringers in the country. There must be washboards though. Is there feels naphtha soap?

    • weens

      No washboards either! There could be napthalic soap, I haven’t looked at the hand washing soap to carefully I just use the powder.

  • Barbara Damon

    It appears that you are only one step away from beating clothes against rocks in a river.

  • Fellow Hand Washing PCV

    Haha, this is great. At least you have a large tub to put a several pieces of clothing in at once! Oh, the amount of times I have dropped freshly washed damp clothes in the dirt!!

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