Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bath…errr…Laundry Water

20 Sep

I complain about doing laundry.  A lot.  It’s kind of ridiculous, really.  I have this machine, you see, where I cram all the dirty clothes, shut the door, add some detergent, push a button, and walk away.  After this wonderful machine has cleaned my clothes, it has a polite little ding to indicate that its work is complete.  Brilliant, no?

I am blessed. Immeasurably, abundantly, terrifically blessed.

Laundry day looked a little bit different in our early days in Kenya.

Two tubs full of water.  One had Omo (detergent) and the other did not.  The items of clothing came out of the hamper a few at a time and into the soapy water.  They were scrubbed between knuckles repeatedly until they were clean, then wrung out and dropped into the rinse water.  Once they had been rinsed, they were wrung out again and dropped into another tub or hamper.  From there they were carried to a clothesline, shaken out and gingerly clipped to the line to dry in the sun.

Although clothes are a little stiff and crinkley after this whole process, there is nothing like the smell and feeling of sun-dried clothes.  Who knows?  Maybe African sunshine has a scent. Clothes hanging on a line always looked so happy to me: Like they were dancing in the wind.

Now that is a laundry day to dread.  Somehow I have a different memory of it though.  This is how I remember wash day:

When you throw a dirty sock into the washtub, it disappears into a mound of suds leaving only a small indentation to indicate its plunge.  Rinse water makes a great personal pool.  Running through line after line of clean, damp laundry is a little magical.  An escape from reality that enveloped me in a world of sweet smelling limitless imagination.  I loved the feeling of cool damp sheets rubbing up my face as I ran under them until I came to their end.

And sometimes I got my own personal pool whether clothes were being washed or not.


Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Uncategorized


3 responses to “Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bath…errr…Laundry Water

  1. Pam Smith

    September 21, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Wow, Carrie, I was thinking the other day about hanging clothes on a clothes line. My mom did this when I was a kid. ( however she did have a washing machine!) I’m not sure what prompted my memory of the clothes line but it is a happy memory for me too.

  2. Hope

    September 21, 2011 at 10:36 am

    We frequently hung clothes on the line to dry, too. But, we only did this in the summer, as we lived in Wisconsin. I remember the clothespins and the bag they hung in and running through the clothes. Thanks for the sweet memories! I’m really enjoying hearing about your childhood.

  3. Keri

    September 22, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I still hang clothes out to dry, year round. Thankfully I don’t have to hand wash them though. In the Phoenix heat they often dry before the next load is out of the washer. Some stuff dries before I even finish hanging a load! I don’t mind the hanging, but I do HATE the folding.


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