Wednesday, April 21

So, Saturday I did laundry in Botswana for the first time. Luckily, I had the help of my host niece and Bots 7 volunteer who’s just about to close her service (I’m Bots 9 – aka the 9th group to be sent to Botswana since the reopening in the early 2000s).

Here’s how the laundry situation goes:

First – you get a bucket. No, you get three.

Unless you have your own bathroom (which I do not), place them next to each other outside and fill each one with water.

Plop your dirty clothes in the first bucket and get them soaking. Put in a ton of washing powder. Swish the clothes around.

Take a sleeve, or pant leg, or whatever you can that is somewhat lengthwise, and hold it in your hand, lining it kind of up your arm. Take your other hand, grab the end of the fabric, and literally grate down so that your clothes grate on your knuckles and the other part of the clothes.

I didn’t get it either.

My niece showed me the way she does it, emphasizing the sound it makes as it squishes against your hand. Think “Another One Rides the Bus” by Weird Al. Yeah, that sound.

I wasn’t great, but I got it enough to clean my clothes somewhat properly. There I was, squatting over the bucket and grating my delicate work shirts over my knuckles like they deserved it. I hadn’t even gotten to bucket two yet.

This process takes a while at first because you have to know which areas require the most grating. Quadrants of shirt under the arms and especially pant cuffs need it the most. Once a garment has been cleaned, a motion similar to milking a cow is applied to get the soap out of the clothes. Then the garment is wrung and placed into bucket two.

Bucket two is just there to put clothes that don’t need any more soaping. Once all the clothes are in bucket two, you really try to wring out the soapy water and then place it into bucket three.

From bucket three you swish and wring until the garment is thoroughly destroyed clean, and the laundry is hung to dry outside on the line (underwear excluded – that goes in your room). Naturally, it rained that afternoon.

Here’s a picture of my laundry all said and done (before the rain):

2 Responses

  1. In order to save the tops of your fingers, it helps to use the palm of your hand as the primary area for pushing the top fabric against the bottom one. I hope you brought enough bras!

  2. Yo yo yo, Lexy!!

    Just getting to read this and I’m eatin’ em up! Your laundry looks great hung up to dry!! If I look out my window right now, there’s my laundry out on the line, too. ❤

    Miss you, love that you're chronicling this great experience, and I'm wishing you luck and love and all things good.


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