Dirty Laundry Repair

Today I washed my very first load of laundry on a washboard! It was amazingly exciting! Well, that’s how I feel now. I honestly put it off as long as I could until I had basically nothing at all to wear. I found the magical process of transforming my bag of dirty clothes into clean ones using only the washboard pictured below, with soap and water was daunting to put it mildly.

25-Mar-2013 17:30, Apple iPad, 2.4, 4.28mm, 0.067 sec, ISO 320

Laundry has never been my strong point, and now I’m going to attempt it with essentially a bumpy concrete block and some soapy water. My dryer will be a long cord strung between two buildings and some clothes pins. The magical process that transforms these clothes from dirty to clean was seriously intimidating, but I was determined…

The challenge seemed quite daunting. Fortunately for me, by the time I had tracked down my laundry detergent, a very nice swiss woman, was doing her laundry. Naturally I did the masculine, macho thing when I have absolutely, positively, no idea what I’m doing…

…Deep Breath…
“Excuse me, I have never done this before, I’m not great at laundry anyway, can you please give me some pointers?”


…Try not to look TOO helpless…


Fortunately Rachel is awesome! She taught me the basics of washboard laundry, which I shall now pass on to you. Call it the laundry wisdom of the ages. All I ask in payment, is that you pass it forward when given the chance, as this special process must be preserved for future generations of travelers to strange and beautiful lands.

Fixing your dirty clothes

1. Fill a bucket or basin with water.
2. Add soap and stir thorougly.
3. Add clothes, squeezing and squishing them until they are completely saturated with the soapy water.
4. Wait about 15 to 20 minutes for the soap to loosen the worst of the dirt and stains.
5. Take one clothing item at a time, place it on the washboard and scrub. The trick seems to be about forcing the water and soap through the clothes without putting too much stress on fibers if the fabric. I mostly squeezed and flipped the items. Rubbing my hands across the surface. Don’t forget to rub and scrub both the inside and outside of the garment.
6. If the garment is not heavily sudsy at this point, add more soap and continue. If the garment is seriously soiled, you might rinse it out and do another round of soap and rub. Repeat this for every item in your laundry basket.
7. After repeating steps 5 and 6 for every item in your laundry basket, place the sudsy clothes in a basin of clean water and squeeze and swish to rinse them.
8. Repeat step 7 until the water stays clean.
9. Hang the clothes on the clothesline and wait a seemingly random period of time until they transition from wet to dry. If you’re impatient or have something you need to do, there is a significant window of “dry enough”.


25-Mar-2013 17:29, Apple iPad, 2.4, 4.28mm, 0.025 sec, ISO 64

Was that easier than you were expecting?

I was certainly surprised. There were no magic incantations or otherworldly events involved and my clothes honestly seemed cleaner than they do after all but the best washing machines. After all, it’s nice to have a washing machine, knowing you can wash your own clothes without a machine is a seriously wonderful feeling!

Next Challenge: Washing clothes with nothing but a sink, water and soap…

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