Friday, March 25, 2011

Laundry by Hand

Labor saving devices have made gyms a necessity in our culture. You see the more labor saving devices that we own the less real work we have to do. The results are two-fold. First, we have much more time to sit around and eat prodigious amounts of food. Second, we miss out on the exercise inherent in manually doing something. Have you ever tried to make bread or stir cookie dough by hand? It is a lot of work. I find my arms are soon tired and I have to take a break. Have you ever considered the amount of exercise that goes into doing laundry? I am doing my laundry today in my bathtub. Why you may ask, the short answer is my car broke down so I don’t have easy access to the laundromat.

I have done laundry by hand many times. I did a study abroad in Fiji. There we washed our laundry in large tubs outside and hung the clothes up to dry. When I was a kid sometimes we did laundry in an outdoor sink especially made for laundry use. The sink was made out of cement and was divided into two parts. Both sides had a hole in the back to drain the water, not into the sewer system, but onto the ground. One sink was deep and the other shallow with a washboard on the bottom. What you do is fill the deep sink with water. First you plug the hole, sometimes with a cork, a washcloth, or perhaps a rock wrapped in a plastic bag. You go to your nearest water source. In my case it was a large cistern about 5 feet away. After dipping your bucket you lift it out, carry it to the sink lift it high and dump it in. One liter of water (32 oz) weighs 2 lbs. A gallon is about 8 lbs. A large bucket is usually 5 gallons. Full bucket weighs about 40 lbs. When I was young it took several trips to fill the sink as I was unable to lift a full bucket. You may be thinking I washed clothes all the time and was taken advantage of as a child. This isn’t so. Most of my childhood I did few chores and often when I was little my mom would do the lifting and leave me to scrub while she went about other household duties.

Your sink is full of water. You sprinkle in some powdered soap, be careful not to get too much because you need to rinse out all the soap afterwards. Mush the clothes around. Then one at a time you take them out and scrub them against the washboard. If you don’t have powdered soap you may have a large yellowish bar. You rub the bar of soap across each piece while it is on the washboard and then scrub, scrub, scrub. Once finished, you drop them into a bucket. After finishing the washing you unplug the sink, refill and proceed to rinse. You may also rinse the clothes in a bucket. Sometimes I cheated and would dunk the clothes in the cistern as they were much easier to rinse that way. Then you ring out the clothes and hang them on the line.
I know some of you while reading this are saying to yourselves. How can you get your clothes clean washing them in a tub? I argue that if you are diligent about it you get them as clean or cleaner by hand. What does you washer do? It tumbles your clothes around and around in soapy water, spins them really fast to get out the excess water, tumbles them again to rinse, spins again and is done. You can accomplish this by putting your clothes in a bucket and vigorously swooshing them around. Add a little scrubbing and presto clean clothes.

Don’t mistake my meaning. I’m by no means advocating getting rid of your washer and dryer. I’m merely suggesting that if we all washed clothes in our bathtubs or outdoor sinks we would have little need to lift weights at the gym.
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1 comment:

  1. Aha! Now I know why the cistern water wasn't clean! I love the picture, by the way. :)