This is the way we wash our clothes…

A family of six makes a fairly significant amount of laundry, so one of our top priorities on moving into our rental house was getting our newly purchased washing machine functioning.

In Ohio, I had a spiffy expensive extra-large-capacity front-loading washer, along with a matching dryer. Just about everywhere I lived before that, I had the typical American top-loading automatic washing machine and, of course, a dryer. In the Philippines, most clothes are washed by hand: according to a government demographic survey, only about 45% of urban Filipino homes have a washing machine (for rural households, the number is less than 18%.)

The American-style automatic washing machines are very expensive here, so I went for a more economical non-automatic washer. It cost a little over $200 USD and it looks like this (or it did before I took the protective plastic wrap off the lids!). The larger tub on the left side agitates, and the smaller tub on the right side spins:


Fresh from the store!

The washing machine lives outside, on the large covered patio right off my kitchen. It attaches with a hose (not included with the washer, but purchased separately) to one side of the large outdoor sink:


Just add water!

There’s no hot or cold wash option, because there’s no water heater. There’s no setting on any of those dials for small, medium, or large load because the water level is not automatic. You turn on the tap at the sink and the left side of the machine starts to fill, and you turn the tap off again when the tub is as full as you want it to be. If you go do something else and forget about it, the water will just keep coming. After you’ve turned on the water, you add your soap and when the soap is nicely mixed, you can throw in some clothes:


Bubble, bubble…

Then you turn the lefthand dial to start the washer agitating and can go do something else for 15 minutes or so.

When you come back, you turn the middle dial from “wash” to “drain” and the water drains out. Normally the drain hose is put directly into a floor drain to avoid standing water which would be a breeding ground for mosquitos (trust me, we don’t want any more of them around than we have already!) There is no floor drain on my patio so it goes into the drainage ditch (fortunately, the drainage ditch really does drain and standing water has not been a problem):


Down the drainage ditch…

After the water has drained you move your clothes from the “wash” side of the laundry tub to the “spin” side, put on the lid, and turn the right and dial to start the washer spinning out the last of the soapy water. However, the left side of the washer holds a lot more clothes than the right side, so even when you pack the clothes in tight you sometimes have to spin the clothes in two or three batches.


It goes round and round and round and round and…

Wash, rinse, repeat: next you flip the middle dial back from “drain” to “wash” and move all the laundry back to the left to rinse out the soap:

If you see suds after you’ve agitated your rinse load, you might have used too much soap. And you might need to drain, spin, and rinse again.

Finally, you move all your clean and soap-free clothes to the spin basket one last time. Then you hang them out in the sunshine:


Hosanna handing clothespins to our wonderful Filipina “laundry fairy” in our backyard.

Back in the states, I used to joke about a “laundry fairy.” Well, I may not have an automatic washing machine any more but I finally have my very own laundry fairy! I appreciate her much more than I ever did my fancy front-loading machine at home. I can only imagine how incredibly stressful keeping everyone in clean clothes would be without her help.

Alas, it’s been raining for three days and we’re now got quite a bit of waiting laundry. We do have a few clotheslines for hanging things that are “under cover” but they don’t hold as much and the clothes dry much more slowly without the bright sun to help them. Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow!


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