How I Learned to Love My Washing Machine


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I wrote a book about what life would be like without electricity and to make it authentic and be able to connect with my characters, I decided that I would live without electricity for a few days. I started with 3 days and then later did a full week. I learned a few very helpful things:

1. It is very hard balancing groceries and jars of milk while biking.

2. Even when it’s cold outside, you can still get really sweaty biking to work (so bring a change of clothes).

3. It’s actually not that annoying to live without electric lights. This was the least bothersome aspect of the whole experience.

4. While cooking on a charcoal grill, never attempt to pick up a charcoal with your hand, even if you THINK it’s cool (it’s probably not).

5. It’s hard to wash your own hair with a cup leaning over a bathtub.

6. I can successfully wash myself with a washcloth and 2-3 cups of water and a bar of soap and still smell good!

7. Washing dishes without running water is both frustrating and disgusting.

8. We use a lot of water! In 3 days, I used two (clean!) garbage cans full of water, a bathtub full of water, five buckets, and 2 gallons of drinking water. And, that was just for me, my husband didn’t even participate!

9. When I eliminated all the noise and electronics, I actually felt more connected to nature and to God.

10. Washing machines were created for a reason! It is backbreaking work to wash clothes by hand. The first time, I used wringing, way too much soap, and a rolling pin to get rid of excess water. Using a washboard in combination with wringing worked a bit better. My arms felt like jello, my back was sore for days, and my hands wouldn’t grasp anything. It took me somewhere around five hours to get two loads of laundry washed and hung up (and that doesn’t include the time for drying). I never realized how much work my washing machine does. I’ll never take it for granted again!

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4 thoughts on “How I Learned to Love My Washing Machine

  1. Neat lessons, Allison! I would only add that if you had continued to wash clothes by hand, you would have found them growing (i.e., stretching) over time. I think that the means of washing clothes greatly impacts the way cultures dress. It’s probably one of the reasons many cultures wear materials that flow/drape versus the clothes we wear!

    I look forward to reading more about your creative adventures!

  2. My grandmother never had a washing machine or a refrigerator. I remember putting milk etc on the fire escape in winter to keep it from spoiling. Glad you were brave enough to experiment. Think about some of our brothers and sisters in other countries who still do not have electricity today.

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