Hey everyone! We have moved into our new place. No pictures just yet because we are still getting settled. Today I tried to do laundry with the Belizean washing machine. As you can see, it has three knobs for selections on the top and two compartments. The water supply hose is only connected to cold water and there is no connection between the hose and the washer. When you put clothes in, you then turn on the water and manually fill the washer. You might think this is a pretty cool unit as it “looks” like a washer and dryer in one. It is, of a sort. The washer compartment is on the left and the “spin dry” compartment is on the right. Yes, I said “spin dry.” Fully drying the clothes takes hanging them out on the line, just like the good ‘ol days!
Most Belizeans hang laundry because dryers are expensive. In reality a dryer is likely unaffordable for the majority of families. American style washing machines and dryers are available out of reach for the average Belizean. For example, a Belizean style washer costs $225BZ and up whereas American machines go up from $900BZ. Additionally, it is important for appliances to be energy efficient because of the high cost of electricity. Belizean washers use substantially less electricity than the American style making them more affordable to use as well as purchase. However, many families do laundry by hand and consider owning a washing machine a dream.
To use the washer, first I set the middle knob on heavy or normal. Then I put in the clothes to be washed in the wash bin and added the appropriate amount of water. This is not too technical, I just watched the water rise in the bin until the clothes were covered. Next, I added detergent and bleach as necessary.
Finally, I turned the first knob to the desired wash cycle. The longest wash, of 15 minutes, is recommended for whites and heavy duty clothes while a three minute wash is a quick clean. When the cycle was complete, I turned the middle knob to drain. This takes a few minutes because the washer has no pump.
You will notice the drain is at floor level to take advantage of nature. When draining is finished, I have to remember to turn the middle knob back to the heavy or normal setting so the wash bin will hold water to rinse the clothes. Again, I added water manually to an appropriate level for the size of load. Since there is no recommendation for how long to rinse the clothes, I set the wash timer knob to about half the time used when I washed the clothes to rinse them. Once the cycle is finished, I drained the basin again. Many people move to the spin dry at this point because adding fabric softener requires another filling of the basin and a few minutes time to agitate the softener through the clothes followed by a final drain. I go ahead and go through the final step. It makes the clothes feel significantly better when they come off the line.
Once the washing, rinsing, and softening processes are complete—I moved the soaking wet clothes to the spin basin. The right knob is used to select the type of spin. Heavier clothes require longer to spin out. However, as we have learned, the spin basin does not like heavy towels. The basin rocks back and forth and does not really spin the water out of the towel because the load is unbalanced and it is difficult for to balance the load. Therefore, most of our towels go out to the line quite wet. Regular clothes will spin out to a point where they are almost dry which is actually pretty impressive!
Today we decided to do some laundry. I went through the steps to complete one load of wash just fine. We had another load in washing and Mike went into town to run an errand. I went ahead and drained the load, again no problem. Here is where things go sideways, I turned the water on to fill the tub to be able to add softener. The water pressure was too high and the hose jumped out of the bin and then sprayed everywhere. It was like a fire hose out of control! When I was finally able to wrestle the hose back into the basin there was about a quarter of an inch of water on the floor and I was drenched! It must have been comical, me chasing the hose around—oh, did I mention I was naked? Yeah, I was not impressed. However, while that experience was quite shocking, I have not given up on the washer. Now I make sure I have a good grip on the hose before turning on the water. However, if there are more incidents like this in the future, I might have to rethink my position!