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When I was told to use the “Indian washing machine” at Greenpalm Homestay, I envisioned an ancient machine rusting in a corner. Then Thomas’ wife handed me a bucket and announced we were going to the river. When I later recounted the tale to others, some screwed up their nose in distaste at the river water, but the thought hadn’t crossed my mind – I was too excited about the idea of slamming the clothes on a rock as I’d seen other women do as I passed their homes on our boat trip. So, in case you ever find yourself without a washing machine, but have a river, some detergent and a bucket on hand, here’s how to wash your clothes in a river! Please excuse my weird washing outfit!
Step-by-step guide to washing your clothes in a river
1. Get two buckets. Put one to one side (this is for your clean clothes).
2. Add some detergent to the other bucket (the same amount you’d put in a washing machine for one load of clothes).
3. Add water to the bucket with detergent and then add all your clothes to the bucket too.
4. Swirl the clothes around in the bucket to let the detergent spread among them.
5. Take one item of clothing from the bucket dip it into the river.
6. If you’re lucky like I was, there will be a ready-made washing stone to use. Otherwise try to look for a large, smooth rock.
7. Massage the clothes on the rock, rinsing out the dirty water and paying attention to any stains. You need to use a bit of strength for this. This is the part where you are getting rid of the actual dirt on your clothes.
8. Dip the clothing back into the water briefly to rinse off any excess soap.
9. Now comes the most fun bit. Grab onto one part of the clothing and then slam it onto the stone, dislodging any stubborn dirt or soap. Ideally you want the clothing to spread out as it hits the stone. Do this a few times.
10. Hold onto two corners of your clothing and spread it out as you gently rinse it in the water. This is your final rinse.
11. Wring out the item of clothing and add it to your second bucket.
Ta da! You’re done. Thank you to Lila at Greenpalm Homes for teaching me how to do this 🙂
If you’re visiting Kerala, have a look at our Kerala itinerary post for plenty of tips and advice about what to do and how to get around in Kerala.