A How-To Guide to Handwashing Laundry

*Note: It is WAY more satisfying to get something clean by handwashing than it is to get something clean by throwing it in a washing machine.

Materials Needed:

– Basin for soaking clothes (or 2 or 3 if they are small like mine)

– Cold-Activated, Environmentally-Friendly Laundry Detergent

– Soap Bar or Dr. Bronners

– Scrub Brush

– A sunny day, or a few hours break from clouds/rain on a hot day

– Optional: Dr. Bronner’s soap or Tea Tree Oil- added disinfectant and, well, it makes them smell better than the dirty water I normally smell like!

Step 1: Throw clothes in a basin

Step 2: Sprinkle with detergent

Step 3: Fill with water (Add optional ingredients at this point)

Step 4: Mix vigorously- pretend like you are kneading bread. Or if you have a larger basin, stick a pole or PVC pipe inside and SPIN! Kinda like the spin cycle on your machine.

Step 5: Let clothes sit for 20-30 minutes

Step 6: Take articles out one by one, use soap bar to layer with some soapy goodness

Step 7: SCRUB. In case you were unaware… articles of clothing have 4 sides. Front, Back, (Inside Out) then Front and Back again. All sides must be thoroughly scrubbed.

Step 8: Run under the tap and scrub between your hands to remove all soapy residue.

Step 9: Wring them out thoroughly. This is especially important in the hot and wet season when its so humid outside it can take all day to dry.

Step 10: Load up a dry basin with clothes and grab your pins.

Step 11: Pin up laundry on the line in all its clean glory for the whole village to see!

Step 12: Check throughout the day for dry status, remove when appropriately dry.

Step 13: Wear your wonderfully clean, slightly more worn by sun and scrubbing, clothes!

*Sulu’s and sheets are by far the most difficult things to wash by hand. Their sheer size makes it difficult to know what part has been cleaned already and which parts haven’t. Not to mention the fact that when I want to wash my sheets, I have to kerekere (request) a large bucket from my neighbor so I can actually fit a whole sheet in at once. You learn to be really unashamed while washing clothes. Due to rust I lost one of the 2 bras I brought with me (note to female volunteers… buy more than 2 to bring here) so when I wash my clothes I just wear a sulu tied up under my armpits like all the village women do. I also hang up my bra and underwear on a line in front of my house which is always followed by an increase in the number of male guests I have visiting my house on that day. In the beginning I was really shy about hanging up my goodies… and would string them up inside followed by like 3 days of them slowly drying in my humid home. After a few times of doing this I realized how ridiculous that was and strung em out like flag in front of my house. I mean honestly, who cares? This is Fiji.



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3 responses to “A How-To Guide to Handwashing Laundry

  1. This is such a great post. It brought back some memories of when I lived in Honduras and had to wash my clothes the same way..except my line did not get direct sun light. You are right though, cleaning your own clothes is so much more satisfying and makes you much more aware of what needs to be washed and what doesn’t on a weekly basis. :-)

    • I just finished like 3 buckets of clothes and its raining right now, I just consider it an extra “rinse cycle” haha :) I did manage to have a pink shirt bleed onto a white one though, tie dye?

  2. Hi!

    My name’s Rosie Borchert and I’m part of AND Productions Web Development team. We’re working on a networking site where we’d highlight various individuals across the globe who have amazing stories of volunteer work/daily life/hard work through photos, blogs, and video. We’d love to speak with you further about being a correspondent for us. I hops all is well and I look forward to hearing from you.
    Rosie Borchert

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