Laundry

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Laundry is different here. I mean, laundry was different in France from the states by far. In France the machines were tiny, the cycles ridiculously long (the “rapide” was 40 minutes), really expensive (3 Euro per load that was about 1/3 the size of a US machine) and we mostly line-dried except for the occasional sheet emergency.

Laundry here in Congo is even more different. The machines are back to the same size of the US (SO nice!) and the cycle is about the same in length. That’s the same true, but then things start getting different.

Our nice US sized machine
Our nice US sized machine

We have no hot water hooked up to our machine. If you need to wash in hot water you have to get hot water from the kitchen sink in a bucket and dump it into the machine.(*Special Note – you have to turn the machine to the cycle you want, pull the handle out to turn it on and leave the lid open so it doesn’t fill with cold water. If you don’t “start” the cycle and then just stop the water BEFORE you dump your bucket of hot water in the machine. Otherwise, it just all drains out the bottom of the machine wasting your detergent and long-awaited bucket of hot water from the your limited supply)

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Once you run the load things have to line-dry. There are no dryer options here. You can line-dry outside or inside but line-dry you must. Outside things will dry faster, the sun will soften your clothes and sun-bleach them but it will also fade them and the mango flies will come.

Mango flies? What are those? They are flies that come and lay eggs on your wet laundry if you happen to live near mango trees (which we do). Then if you wear the clothes while the eggs are alive the maggots will hatch and burrow into your skin where they will grow until you can literally squeeze them from your body. Ewwww, gross right? Yeah. Nasty with a shirt . . . .don’t wanna even go there with underwear. So what can you do?

Dry inside your house. It takes longer and humidifies your house but some people choose that option. You can add vinegar to your rinse cycle and that supposedly deters them from even laying the eggs but I haven’t tried it yet and I don’t have the desire to test it either. Heat will kill them so you can iron everything (that’s a lot of work) or use that non-existant dryer you wish you had. The final option is time.

Time will kill the eggs too. If the eggs sit for 24-36 hours on dry laundry they die and are no longer a problem. Enter the laundry-procrastinator’s dream scenario! You HAVE to let the dry laundry sit. Oh, bummer. This is the option we are going with, using the full 36 hours and with my laundry-procrastinator streak possibly longer before the clothes gets put away.

Our laundry sitting before being worn
Our laundry sitting before being worn

So that is laundry here. In the end I thought it was going to be a bigger deal than it actually is now that I’m here doing it. The idea of mango flies getting in my skin does gross me out so we are making sure the laundry is good and dry before it’s sitting time starts and we are giving it the full 36 hours to make sure – especially with things like underwear and diapers.

Laundry and the garden patch being dug up
Laundry and the garden patch being dug up

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