Friday, April 2, 2010

Washing Clothes: Latin American Style

Hello again!  Today we are writing you from the road, from our over-sized, soft seats in the VIP section of the bus taking us from Lima to Cuzco, Peru, to be exact. We justified the higher price by telling ourselves 20 hours in a bus is a long time worthy of a little more comfort than usual. Plus, Juleen has less than two weeks left in South America! Finally, after six months of frugal traveling, we’re breaking out. Well, minus how we wash our clothes…

We've made a choice to rebel against the shackles of the electricity grid and over-hyped machines and remarkably/ridiculously fragrant detergents. Instead of the industrialized washing process familiar to most Americans, we’ve opted for brute human force and a tennis ball-sized circle of soap. While we’re pretty sure our collective brute force has improved over the months, the soap is now but the size of a ping-pong ball.

To chronicle our manual clothes-washing efforts, we’ve done something a little bit different; we took a series of pictures of our daily clothes washing routine while we were volunteering at the Centro Ann Sullivan de Peru in Lima. Instead of a word-based blog, then, we’re hoping to make this one primarily feature pictures.

Juleen sorts through her laundry bag for the day's pickings. A "full load" of manually washed clothes is but a few items.

Juleen rinses the terrace-level tub out. A necessity given the fact that pigeons frequent the scene.

Juleen rubs the diminished ball of soap on her socks. Different clothes items require different soap application methods--shirts need it in the pits, underwear in the crotch, etc.

After soaping each item, we typically scrub the clothes individually, then collectively, as shown here. We're manual washers, not manual dryers. Lima's sun and wind took care of that for us.

Juleen's reacts to a washing job well done.


  1. i about lost my business with the 'lima fresh' comment. hilarious, juleen! good reporting guys!

  2. lost your business? Expliceme.

  3. it was funny, so i laughed a lot. business is a multifunctional word for me, but in this instance i am using it as a substitute for my self control.