Laundry Day

One of my least favorite chores while in process: laundry.

One of my most favorite chores once complete: laundry.

Here in Colombia doing laundry takes on a whole different meaning. Some volunteers wash everything by hand. My host family has a washing machine, which is a huge help, though still takes fair amount of manual labor. I have gotten into a good rhythm with my laundry, figuring out a system of timing to ensure a few loads takes about 1.5 hours. My host family remarks on how quick it is every time, though they are comparing it to when they do laundry for everyone in the house. Not a very fair comparison to make. I don’t have THAT much laundry.

Step one is to separate the laundry into what will be washed together so I can put my laundry bag on a chair and pull out each part as needed without digging around. Then I lug it downstairs to the back patio where the water tanks and washing machine is. This time around I got to use the new machine (how fancy!), which was great as the last one was sputtering out of life and I occasionally had to half-handwash a load or three.

So, here we go. Using two buckets I fill up from the large water tank and pour the water into the washing machine. I fill one as I walk over and dump the water from the other then keep switching them. t’s all about efficiency people. I need about 6 buckets to fill the machine to the level it should be at.

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Next I grate up the soap and dissolve it a little in the water before putting in my clothes. I use bar soap for no really good reason. Someone mentioned I should and I’ve been buying this one type since then. I’m a creature of habit. I generally use half a bar every time I do laundry, not because that’s suggested, it’s just what I started doing. Things seem to be clean, however, so I stick with it.

Next the clothes go in for “15,” which doesn’t equal 15 minutes, nor 15 seconds, so I’m not sure what the number actually relates to. I’ve never timed it. Usually around this time I am picking limes off the tree, lesson planning, texting, or hanging out with the dogs, all while avoiding the parrot, who walks sideways to always have an eye on me and bites. Most of the time he settles into his spot on the chair and we’re good.

When the cycle finishes, it’s time for the dual bucket rinse system. Into the grey bucket for an initial rinse and then into the blue bucket (which used to be a large red bucket but it cracked so I just make the small one work).

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Once the soap is (mostly, let’s be honest) out, The clothes go into the spinner to get out some of the excess water. All the excess water comes out of a hose on the side and goes towards a drain we have near one of the water tanks.

Usually at this point I put another load into the washer. The spinner finishes (after 5 – not 5 minutes nor 5 seconds, and it seems to be different amount of time than the 5 on the washer…it’s a mystery) and I start hanging up the clothes, pausing when the cycle is done to repeat until everything is washed and hung up to dry.

And, ya! Laundry sits out for anywhere from a few hours to a day depending on the weather. I’ll be good for two weeks before the whole process starts over again.

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