Laundry is a household chore that most of us complain about without even realising how easy we have it. We’re fortunate enough to have washing machines and tumble dryers (for some), as a resource to help us do our laundry.
Individuals from western countries within Europe and North America, are very well accustomed to using a domestic washing machine for their laundry routine, even some countries in the Middle East and parts of Asia too.
However, many regions and countries in the world still use the original laundry method of washing by hand, in a river! Simply because of the countries economic inability to have a proper source of water supply to their homes, let alone technology.
Let’s take a look at how some laundry routines and styles are done around the world, starting with the more economically developed going down to the less economically developed:
China uses laundry machines, but the top loader ones. One very particular laundry rule in their routine is they NEVER wash socks and underwear together and if you were to take your underwear to get washed in a laundromat, be ready for rejection. Also, they prefer washing underwear by hand to prevent ‘contamination’ from other garments. They’re all about good hygiene there, which is a good thing!
Though they use washing machines, they don’t have tumble dryers, especially because places in China are too compact. They stick with the traditional air drying method.
Most Filipinos in the provinces are accustomed to the traditional hand washing at home method. Routine includes filing water in a big basin from any filtered water source and scrubbing clothes by hand. Drying is done by your typical air dry method, hanging on a clothes line.
Top loader washing machines are available for purchase in the Philippines but for some, it is unaffordable.
One thing you’ll find is that laundry detergents are popularly sold in sachets, as a cheaper option to buying a bottled one.
If you haven’t heard already, Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai is the ‘worlds largest laundry’ with around 800 wash stations where local workers hand wash clothes for schools, hotels, hospitals and any one needing their laundry done.
The method to hand washing here is, clothes are dunked in water and then beaten against a rock surface (to loosen up soil), scrubbed and hung up to naturally air dry.
Guatemala, South America
Many parts of Guatemala wash the ancient way… scrubbing by hand with a rock, in a lake or river. Some communities have to walk a distance to their nearest river/lake in order for them to do laundry. After washing, they pack their wet clothes, bundled in a blanket or in a basket and carry it back home where they can hang it to dry.
Now, with recent water projects, wash stations have been put into place in areas such as Antigua, where filtered river water will fill up standing open wash basins for locales to do their laundry in.
Like in most less economically developed counties, when it’s laundry day in Niger, some locales gather to hand wash their laundry in the Niger river, and once done, leave the garments to dry on the ground. Families take this opportunity to have conversations and a good time. Locales use the river to wash anything, even themselves.
There are still many regions around the world, even more places in Asia, Africa and South America, where hand washing is their laundry routine and sometimes in a dirty, polluted river.
So, the next time you complain about laundry day, just remember, at least a machine does it for you.