Barbara Allen, 129
Today I would like to talk to you about laundry. Specifically, hand washing your laundry. It is possible that one day you may find yourself in the rather ridiculous situation where you are required to hand wash your laundry. Not only required but you kind of volunteered. Therefore, I would like to share with you what I have learned to hopefully save you some heartbreak. Well, never mind, there is no escaping the heartbreak, but maybe save you some time?
There are many decisions you need to make when doing your laundry by hand. However, one decision you don’t need to make is how many buckets you need. You need two. One for washing and one to assist in the rinsing process.
You also have to establish your priorities: Is your goal not to smell or is to have something clean, spot free? I have determined my priority is not to smell. Your decision changes the process a little. Clean requires more scalding water and stain remover. Not smelling requires something. I am not sure what it is but it kind of a fake perfume thing that I would never use in the states. You soak your clothes in that, in the rinse bucket. Then when ready you move the clothes to the wash bucket. Please keep in mind you are on the ground, on your knees crouched over the bucket during this whole process. That part is very important.
Ok, now the washing (let’s pretend you and I are the same, ok?) How much detergent should you use, be judicious, if you use too much laundry detergent you are going to spend the rest of the day rinsing your clothes. Again since my priority is not smelling, I use the scrub brush (right, you need a scrub brush that has very hard bristles that will probably give you tiny little cuts on your fingertips) in a semi-sincere manner over the material, but I am super diligent in those odor areas. You repeat this process after you turn the clothes inside out. By the way, only do five items at a time, this will take up to two hours. Yes, it will leave you in a semi-panic throughout the week about what it wear. All I can say is reduce your standards. You can wear a shirt a few times, when you see a little mold forming on the underarms, yeah, you better wash it.
Rinsing starts after you have been washing for an hour. You have been crouched down, you have been bristling along. Now you have to fill the rinse bucket with the perfect water temperature. This is very hard to do. I am pretty sure you know the rinse process, twist this way, twist that way—-you are trying to remove all soap. I tend to the final twisting over the back fence, though my back is in a permanent hunch. Around the third item you are going to want to change the water. So you boil water and use faucet water in equal measure in the bucket.
This may happen when you are pouring the scalding water in the bucket, you may spill some scalding water on that little space between the thumb and pointer finger. At this point, you will probably drop the pot and say: @#%%#!!!! I DIDN’T #@*%# SIGN UP FOR THIS!!!!
And that is OK—that is called losing perspective. It may be a good time to go eat the frozen Oreos that you have stashed in the freezer. However, if your hand hurts and you cannot open the packet you may throw the Oreos across the room. That is OK. That is called displaced rage. Sit down, breathe, drink water. But for no more than five minutes. If you sit for more than five minutes inevitably your eyes are going to land on the front door. If that happens, I guarantee you, you will put your sneakers on and start running fast with the intention of never coming back to “This GD hell hole.” The only problem is the nearest next place is about 500 miles away and at some point, you will realize that. Hopefully, it is before there are 20 dogs chasing you. And guess what? When you get home your laundry isn’t done.
OK, it is coming on fours hours because that little incident set you back. But the laundry is done, I think you can call it a day, though it is 1 PM. Go to bed, under the mosquito net, open the kindle you share with your brilliant sister who is reading deeply the books you share and has highlighted important passages. You can try to decide why the passage is important or you can be given a moment of humility and list how many blessings you have. Up to you. I did both. Which brings me back to each of you, my blessings, thank you.
*Featured photo credit to Laura Hernandez