Laundry Labor

July 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Have you ever tried washing all your clothes by hand? If not, trust me when I say it is work! In Tanzania there are essentially no washing machines. Those with money don’t buy washing machines; they hire people to help them with the laundry. It makes sense that washing machines are hard to come by – they’re expensive and power and water are too inconsistent for then to run properly.


The materials required for one load of laundry are:

1. Clothes, preferably dirty
2. A big bucket, tub or basin
3. Other bucket, preferably two buckets
4. Lots of water
5. Powder soap
6. Bar of soap
7. Scrub brush

Fill the tub with water and mix in the powder soap. Once mixed, add clothes and soak. Wash clothes by rubbing cloth against cloth piece by piece until it seems clean. Take the bar of soap and rub it into the fabric for even more cleaning power. Wring out each piece and toss into a fresh bucket of water.

Once every piece has been scrubbed and rubbed (by this point it’s probably been about 20 minutes), empty out the never-ceases-to-be-shocking-how-dirty-it-is water and refill with fresh water.

Agitate clothes soaking in the water for a few minutes. Then wring out each piece again and toss into the next round of rinse water. Agitate again and wring and put in fresh bucket. Use your best judgement to determine if they need another “rinse cycle.” They usually do.

Once all the clothes have been thoroughly rinsed, hang in the sun to dry. Preferably away from the smoke from the cooking fire, but that may be unavoidable. Allow one to two days to dry annnnnnd voila! You have washed your clothes! Congratulations! I suggest celebrating by changing your shirt.



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