One of the things I knew to prepare myself for when coming to Ghana was the fact that I’d have to wash my clothes by hand. With that in mind, I packed accordingly: light, plain, cotton clothing. Clothing with fancy designs, decals, embroidery, delicate stitching, doodads, doohickey and what have you were left behind. Jeans, which initially made the cut, were left behind due to the weight that I’d put on just before leaving the States. I think of some of the items that I was reluctant to leave, and I am glad they’re safely stowed away, free from the merciless Ghanaian sun, dirt and dust that would have surely ushered them to their fashionable end. More importantly is, if I had brought some of my favorite clothes to Ghana, I’d have to wash them; and if the Ghanaian elements didn’t do away with them, surely my subpar hand-washing would have been the culprit.
Truthfully I’m not
as bad as the Mister that bad at
hand washing. But there are the little holes creeping up in pretty much all of
my clothes that testify otherwise. Then there’s also the one shirt that now has
sleeves the length of gorilla arms stretched from a scoop neck to a
scoop navel. But holes or stretched my clothes are clean wearable and I’ve
even learned a few things in the process.
The lighter the better
While I lucked out in my wardrobe being lightweight and easy to wash, the Mister, being well over six foot with broad shoulders to boot wasn’t quite so lucky. His clothes are so damn big! Men’s clothing is also thicker than women’s clothes. Even a simple t-shirt requires three times as much work than my clothes. I dislike washing his clothes more than I dislike hand washing clothes in general. But good thing for me, he has no problem scrubbing and swishing right alongside me when it comes to tackling our laundry…
This is apparently a no-no, as it’s Ghanaian custom for women to do all of the work. If he were a bachelor, in most cases it wouldn’t be an issue (the exception being that in some cases even if he were a bachelor, if there are women living in the house, they should do his washing). But since he’s married, it is his wife who should be doing the washing—and we’re reminded of this anytime he’s seen doing laundry. “Oh Mister, where is your wife, she should be doing that.” Or if I am present, “Hmm why do you let him do it? You have to do it.” Haters!
Never leave clothes soaking an entire day.
While it’s tempting to think that a longer soak cycle will loosen dirt, making clothes easier to wash, it’s just not true. What you end up with is wasted water, soap, time, energy and rancid smelling clothes. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way more than once. Nothing worse than taking dry laundry off the line only to realize it reeks and will need to be washed again. Letting the load soak a few hours if you have errands to run won’t do any harm, but tread carefully.
Never hang your clothes over a patch of dirt, especially when there’s a storm looming.
Your clothes will end up in the mud and serve as a playroom for worms and insects.