Solutions Laundered


Our bucket

I have been terrible at keeping up with blogging! There has been so much that has happened in the last four months. I got really into watching volleyball at village level games, I was part of a play in the annual Jatra (with_speaking_lines), I celebrated Holi…etc. etc.

Ramaa takes part in health related play

But today, I am blogging about laundry.

I used to think of laundry as one of the household tasks I did not mind. Doing dishes-I dislike.  Dusting- I hate. But laundry- laundry I can do.  Stuff clothes in a machine, press a button and BAM! Donezo!

But in India, laundry is a totally different experience. 

Here, I wash my clothes via bucket-system. I leave a bucket, filled with water, detergent and clothes, to soak for about 30 min. Then rinse these in clean water, and hang them on the laundry line outside to dry.

I have found that laundry is more than a balancing act. It is a science, and I have tried multiple routines to perfect my craft:

1)   Different amounts of detergent powder: at first, I was afraid to put too much powder into my bucket, fearing I would waste the crystals and water. But when my clothes were finally washed, I felt disappointed with the effect.  What had gone wrong?

Frustrated, and desperate for my clothes to smell powder clean, I started pouring packets of detergent powder into my bucket. This was not the greatest of ideas. I soon regretted my initial enthusiasm, after I had to use five buckets of water and spend three hours wringing out detergent soaked T-shirts.

Since then, I have found a happy medium of detergent powder, which is more than you would think, but less than my previous experiences taught me.  (Point- Ramaa)

2)   Waiting different amounts of time to do laundry – In the beginning, I waited a week to do my laundry. I thought this was normal, until I learned most people do their laundry in small loads multiple times a week. I tried this for a while, got lazy and bored, and went back to my old routine.

What? Doing laundry takes forever, and I don’t want to keep having to fill up buckets, scrubbing out my clothes and trying to find space on the line to  dry….I’ll make due….for a while.  (Point- bucket)

3)   Different methods of sorting my cloths to do in different buckets – This I think might be the most useful tip. I separate pants and shirts, so that the sizes of clothes within a load are even. This way, I don’t waste time sorting out the easier items from the more time consuming items.  (Point-Ramaa)

4)   Different quantities of water-I used to fill the bucket to the brim with water. Now I just make sure every article is submerged. It makes me feel like I am saving a bit of water in the process, even though I bet that water usage amounts to the same. (Point-probably bucket)

5)   Doing laundry not over the bucket, and instead into the drain- This one I discovered as I kept having to wring out my clothes in bucket I was using to soak my clothes, and my bucket kept overflowing. I now wring out those clothes over the drain. You wouldn’t think it, but this saves a ton of time. (Point-Ramaa)

6)   Indian cloths make life easier– Clothes from India are light-weight, dry faster and are easier to wear and clean.  (Point-Ramaa)

7)   Soaking times- I’m convinced that soaking time mostly makes no difference. What. So. Ever. (Point- Bucket)


Top six life lessons for Ramaa from laundry

1)   Doing laundry takes time, and no matter how hard you try to maximize your efficiency, it will take forever.

2)   Laundry time = good concentrating/thinking/singing time

3)   Bend with your knees

4)   If you leave a bucket of water sitting out, sometimes bees will sit on the top of the water, and you will be stung

5)   Once in college, my roommate and I sorted M&Ms everyday for a week. It was the greatest. I feel like doing laundry in India is kind of like that. A simple task. A happy ending. But it’s more labor intensive. Perhaps not the greatest analogy or lesson. (Point-Bucket. I kid…I kid)

6)   No matter what country you live in, laundry never ends.


Ramaa's interest in international health and development comes from a combination of living abroad in India, Japan and Zimbabwe, and her professional experiences. Ramaa spent a summer teaching English at a middle school in Jaipur, where she learned about the Indian education system, and issues facing teachers in the classroom. In 2008, Ramaa received a public interest fellowship to work with a microfinance organization in Egypt. There, she designed and implemented grant writing workshops and English classes. It was in Egypt that Ramaa identified her passion for public health work in rural areas, seeing the impact that grassroots initiatives have on local communities. After earning her degree from Bowdoin College, Ramaa worked as a Project Analyst for an IT contractor with the U.S. Government. Ramaa speaks Marathi and Japanese, and is a beginner at Spanish and Arabic.

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2 thoughts on “Solutions Laundered

  1. I thought soaking times would make a difference! And, I hate when you wash a bucket of clothes and then hang it up to dry and it doesn’t have the laundry-detergent smell…might as well not have washed at all.

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