how to do laundry by hand, country-style

doing laundry, country-style!

“You can get a big tub and do your laundry by hand!” the Thai owners of my building announced happily when I asked them if there were any washing machines I could use, or some kind of laundry service.

Me: “Um….ok….um…how would I do that, exactly?”

Like most Canadians, I’ve washed one or two things out by hand in the sink, but any kind of large-scale laundry-washing endeavor has involved, you know, WASHING MACHINES. But washing machines are actually rare here, especially the real, modern kind so hand-washing everything is pretty common.

Of course, any place poor enough for laundry machines to be a novelty probably has lots of people I could pay to do my laundry. However, I like doing chores myself. Also, while it’s easy to pay people to do stuff for you in Thailand, it can be quite hard to get things done the way you want. (See: “it’s so hard to get good help these days”) — so in most cases it’s a lot simpler to do it yourself.

Here’s how you wash laundry by hand:

1) You need a big laundry tub, about 3 feet wide a laundry brush, and of course detergent. If you’re a princess like me, you need rubber gloves too. The giant tub is important, it really doesn’t work well to do a lot of laundry in your sink.
2) Put water and detergent in the tub, then the laundry. Make sure everything is wet, then let it soak for 1/2 hour.
3) Using the laundry brush, take each item of clothing and inspect it for stains, and give it a good scrub with the brush.
4) Drain the water, and put in new, clean water.
5) Let stuff soak a little bit more
6) Drain water, and twist out the water from each item. Once you have to twist out a towel or jeans, you will have a newfound appreciation for centrifugal force: it fucking sucks.
7) Hang each item on a hanger and put it out in the sun. In Thailand, where temperatures reach 40C, no one except hotels own dryers: it takes about an hour for clothes to dry in the afternoon sun.
8) Done!

7 Responses to “how to do laundry by hand, country-style”


  1. 1 zemetrus May 6, 2009 at 12:45 am

    haha just finished with my tub and thought to check the blogs… anyway the best thing of avoiding these strong machines is all the nature around you will like you more :)

  2. 2 Jody May 6, 2009 at 6:52 am

    In Mumbai, they’ve institutionalized this practice into laundry villages:

    Laundry Village

  3. 3 justin May 6, 2009 at 9:00 am

    There is a little place down the road, towards the hotel, that do a good job :-)

  4. 5 julielavoie May 7, 2009 at 12:06 am

    jody: holy shit, that’s amazing!

  5. 6 Renate May 7, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you for this informative tutorial. Never know when it might come in handy ;-)
    I fully understand what you mean by doing things yourself if you want them done right but on the other hand – I hate washing by hand. Guess I’d go for paying someone else because I’d get fed up after doing it myself twice.

  6. 7 Regina May 11, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Hi, stumbled upon your blog by typing “nong khai” over at twitter. I have a friend in Nong Khai that runs the Isara Learning Center http://www.isara.org His name is Kirk. He might be able to tell you where to have your laundry washed. The Learning Center does teach English classes for free, but he won’t pester you to teach. They also do other volunteer projects over there if you are interested. I haven’t read enough of your blog to learn how long you’ll be in Nong Khai, but Kirk might be able to help with your laundry and where to buy good pizza. :)


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A blog about culture and technology in South-East Asia.

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