Frugal Foreigner: Saving on Laundry

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There are several differences between the way I do in India and the way I did it in the US.  One is that it takes forever.  I do have a washing machine, but the water trickles in as it fills.  It takes about 2 1/2 hours to wash a medium load of clothes.

Another difference is that I don’t even have the option of a dryer.  I hung a lot of our clothes to dry before, but now everything gets hung up.  I have this drying rack above the washing machine in the washroom, and some clothesline strung across one of the balconies.  I recently added another clothesline, making it possible to wash more than one small load in a 24 hour period.

Also, the washing machine doesn’t have hot water and my clothes just don’t get clean in the cold water.  The detergent doesn’t even dissolve.  I’ve started filling the washing machine with buckets of warm water from the bathroom to help the detergent dissolve and fill the washing machine up faster.

I’m lucky.  Most Indians wash clothes by hand.  Outside the city, women carry baskets of clothing down to the river, pounding the clothing on rocks, scrubbing with a detergent bar and laying it on the grass to dry.

Aren’t you glad you didn’t have to wash this by hand?

When I lived in Romania, I washed my clothing by hand in the bathtub with a detergent bar and I am so thankful to have a washing machine here.

As you can imagine, laundry is so time-consuming that Indians often wear their clothing several times before it gets washed.  This is a simple way to save on laundry – if it isn’t dirty, wear it again.  Here are some more tips for saving on laundry, and related forum discussions.


  1. norma says

    maybe check and see if there is a mess filter inside where the cold waterhose hooks up it can get cloged and restrict the flow

  2. Cynthia Joshua says

    try using a different brand of detergent. some times the cheaper one are really bad. And do not use the same quantity as the manufacturer recommends – use lesser quantity.

    Because of the color of the water, the clothes some times may look dirty too. Ask you maid about blue for white clothes, it will make a good difference.


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