Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Laundry: International Solutions to the Dirty Clothes Problem

So far, every country we've lived in (a whopping 3 countries, that is ;)) has had a different approach to the problem: How do I get my dirty clothes clean?

In the U.S., most people use a washer and a dryer. Some line dry in good weather, but be it in the laundry mat or in the home, most have a dryer anyhow.

In Guatemala, the majority of the people couldn't afford a washer or dryer and washed by hand at a "pila," or concrete scrubbing board with a basin on one side and the scrubbing board on the other. Line drying was, of course, the way to go, though it presented its challenges during rainy season. Many times it would get so humid in rainy season that the clothes would mold in the closets if you didn't put "Desecant" to absorb the water in the air... and clothes would hang on the line for days.

Here, in Abu Dhabi, I see a unique blend of both of these places. The only kind of washer/dryer we could even find available, is the combined version (pictured) As the laundry room is a hook up between the fridge and the sink in the kitchen, I'm glad for the space it saves, and actually use the top to dry dishes on. It does present some challenges:
-It holds very, very little compared to any washing machine I've ever used before,
-If you want it to both wash and dry, be prepared to wait a good 3 hours between loads and not actually get the clothes all the way dry.
-If you'd like to shave some time off of a load and try to just wash, it takes a good 2 + hours
-As we're on the gulf, the 100+ degrees makes for some super humid weather. This makes line drying a bit like the Guatemalan experience.

However, I'm very grateful to have a washing machine (not to mention clothes to wash!) Have you ever tried washing clothes, especially blue jeans, by hand? You'll build up some arm muscles very quickly! Then again, I might just need to do a more thorough investigation of the instruction manual....

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