September 13, 2010

Laundry: Moving from the 20th to the 21st century

As you may recall, our flat came with what here in Namibia is called a twin tub washer. Basically, it’s exactly that – an electric washing machine with one tub for washing and rinsing and another tub for spinning water out of clothes. This is early to mid 20th century technology.

The only real problem with the twin tub washer is that it takes an attendant to wash the clothes. It’s a step up from a wringer washer, but you can’t do much else but attend the washer while it works:

1. To begin, you plug in the washer, hook the water inlet hose to your kitchen water faucet and hook the drain hose over the edge of your kitchen sink. You add soap and turn on the water but you can’t stray far because you need to be careful to turn it off when the tub is full.

2. After the tub fills, you dial up the amount of time you want the clothes to wash. That starts the washing process.

3. Once the washing is complete, you turn the machine to drain and wait until it drains through a drain hose into the kitchen sink. Sometimes you need to turn it off midway so it doesn’t overflow the sink, turning it back on after you have let some of the water go down the sink.

4. Once the machine has drained, you transfer clothes from the washing tub to the spinning tub to spin out the sudsy water.

5. Once the spinning completes, you move them back to the washing tub to rinse them. Again the water enters via hose from the faucet and again, you have to remember to turn it off when the tub is full.

6. You dial up the rinsing time to begin the rinse.

7. Once the rinsing is complete, you turn the machine to drain and wait again until it does (see caution at #3 above).

8. After the clothes have drained, you move them to the spinning tub to spin the water out of them.

9. After that spin is finished, you can finally move the clothes to the dryer.

After making several kind requests for a newer washer, we were delighted with the delivery of a brand new LG automatic washer at the beginning of September.

It’s not quite what you’d expect in the states but the important key word here is automatic. You still need to attach water hoses to the hot and cold water inlets each time you use it and the washer still drains through a hose to the kitchen sink, BUT it does all the rest on its own – washing, spinning, rinsing, draining. You need only show up at the start to add detergent, and at the end to move the clothes to the dryer. This one is firmly in the 21st century – fuzzy logic and all.

There is a fuzzy wash cycle setting that supposedly invokes fuzzy logic to ascertain the soil level of the clothes and adjust water level and soap requirements to match. However, since you need to define the water level and soap requirements before the machine starts, it’s all a bit fuzzy. As are the clothes when they leave the washer as the lint filter is a bit primitive.

But all in all, it’s a big improvement. I’m exceedingly partial to this machine not just because it saves tons of work but because it came beautifully monogrammed just for me.

Now if we could just get a 21st century clothes dryer.