You know when you load the washing machine up so much and you think, ‘Oh, I really shouldn’t put so much in… but maybe I can just squeeze one more thing…‘. That was me today, and today was the day that our washing machine crapped itself (well, it didn’t, luckily, but I thought it did, more on that later). I think that every single last cloth diaper was dirty, and that was the reason for my enormous load. It was really dumb of me to load it up so much, and I even mentioned to Art in passing that I was being really brave to fill the washing machine up so high. Because… a few days ago, it had been acting funny. I threw a load in early in the morning, went out for three or four hours and when I came home, the machine was still spinning… ‘That’s odd‘, I thought… ‘The machine has been stuck on the spin cycle for hours!’. I manually turned the nob to OFF, and hung my very spun (nearly dry) cloth diapers out on the line.
Well, today, the machine seemed to be stuck again, but this time, it wasn’t on the spin cycle… Unfortunately, it was stuck on the soaking wet, half soapy part of the cycle. I tried to move the nob manually, but I wasn’t sure if it was working… I called the realtor that we rent from (benefits of renting a furnished unit, no home owners maintenance to deal with), and she said they would ‘take care’ of it… which to me, means like, yeah, you’ll take care of it and maybe in two weeks it will be fixed, right? I really needed clean cloth diapers, so I decided to hand wash the gigantic load and hang it out of dry. This got me thinking about the fact that I never really liked this washing machine in the first place, and I was tempted to start looking on somewhere like ProductExpert.in for a new one, but I thought I wouldn’t quite give up on the old thing just yet.
Have you ever tried to hand wash an entire huge load of laundry!?!? I’m not talking about washing a few bras and some knickers… I’m talking bathroom towels and thick cloth diapers! All the wringing and squeezing and lifting and bending?! It’s actually a workout! The joints in my hands were all aching, my back muscles were sore and the cut on my finger screamed pain every time I had to wring out the water. The hardest part of all was having Goldie there to help. Margo was at kindy, otherwise, I’m sure she would have joined in the fun too. I had to put Goldie in the bouncer, because I didn’t want her slipping all over the wet floor. She ended up soaking wet, I’m not sure how, but at least was very happy to sit and watch.
As I was sitting there in the bathroom, squatting on the stool over the tubs of wet laundry with my baby splashing in the puddles, I had this sudden realization that probably 2/3 of the world washes their clothes in some similar manner. Actually, they probably are not so lucky as to even have running water, or a private place to do it, and they may be doing this hand washing in a muddy river, or next to the cow paddock… or worse… Or, what about the people who are so poor, that they only have one item of clothing? How do they wash something without taking it off? Anyway, the scrubbing was a little therapeutic, so my imagination was running.
I looked around at all the wet laundry, and then over at the never-ending-pile of dirty laundry in the laundry basket and started thinking…
‘Why do I even have all this stuff?! What is it for?! It would be so much easier if we only had a few things, then we wouldn’t even need a washing machine, we could just wash all this stuff by hand in a minute or two.’
Doing all this hand washing, also made me realize how and why practicing elimination communication (or taking your baby to the loo) in a third world country is a no-brainer. They don’t HAVE extra cloth for diapers and even if they did, could you imagine how much hand washing they would have to do?! Better to just take your baby over a bush! All day long, I was being extra vigilant with ECing Goldie. After washing all those diapers and fearing that I would have to do it again soon, I wasn’t prepared to put a diaper on her unless she absolutely needed it, like if we went out. I have to say, we didn’t produce one wet diaper… although, silly me, put her in the baby carrier and the one and only time I missed her pee was when she was in there, but it wasn’t much, so I just rinsed it off in the sink.
If you read a bit on the history of the washing machine, you can see that the modern electric washing machines only became big in say, the 1930s and 1940s. Before modern washing machines, they had ‘washing machines’, but you had to do a bit of work, and you had to squeeze the water out of the clothes with a wringer. But, even these early washing machines made it easier for people to wash their clothes… far easier than what I was doing, I think. Whilst bending over my tubs, it made me think about my visit to India in 2006. While I was traveling around by trains through the country side, I remember seeing people everywhere, washing their clothes outside, in brown muddy water. Then, they would whack the wet clothes on a rock to get rid of the extra water. Do I look that cool right now, hunched over my buckets? Not even!
Anyway… I hung the clothes out to dry, but they were so wet, most of the thick diapers didn’t dry. My wringing technique was a fail. It turns out the the washing machine is not broken… The guy came today and said that it just needs a new timer. He ordered the part and I can still use the thing, I just have to manually help the dial around so that the cycle finishes properly. I stuck the still dripping wet diapers back in the washing machine and manually turned the dial to spin, and it sucked all the excess water out of them and they are in the dryer as I speak. I’m very happy to have the option of still using my mostly working washing machine. Also, I’m very grateful for having the ‘back to my roots’ clothes washing experience. It was a great reminder to be extra vigilant when using resources like water and power. Most of all, it was a reminder to me as to how lucky we are 🙂