Laundry in Africa

Our job here is to care for 4 high school students who live in a hostel.   However, in April and May we lived in a house that was next to a hostel.   This article is written about that house:

Before we came to Nigeria I mentioned to some people that laundry is something I have difficulty in getting done ¦that is why I am so glad that I will not be doing the laundry for everyone in the hostel. It's not that I don't like to do laundry, or can't do it, the issue usually is getting it put away. Well, on Sat. I spent 30 minutes putting all our laundry away ¦and what a difference it has made!

Africa Laundry

Anyhow, that is not why I write. I thought some may be interested to know that I seem to have gotten into a pretty good system for doing our laundry in this period of waiting to move into the hostel . It's somewhat simple: if we have electricity, the washing machine is running. Fortunately, we have had more electricity in the last few weeks than when we first arrived! Also, we learned about an outside switch that allows us to change the electric line so if one is out, sometimes the other one is on.

But, back to the laundry ¦. For clothes, I wash them in the small, front loading washing machine. The shortest cycle usually takes about 2 ½ hours or so. Once they are done I hang them up. If it is something I don't need soon (like sheets) they get hung outside. Towels and clothes that we don't need right away or that I want to iron get hung on this handy line Toby built for the screened in porch. Everything else gets hung in one of three places in the house: the laundry room, the master bathroom (we all use the front bath because light is better there), or on the curtain rod in the guest bedroom. The reason I don't hang everything outside or on the porch I because of Mango flies. It's mango season and these flies lay eggs on things. If you don't iron the fabric or put it in a dryer (which usually only works when electricity is really strong) these flies when they hatch can get into your skin- which you don't want. The screened in porch should keep the flies out but there are a few holes in the screen and a dog that hangs out on our porch (bringing flies in with her). So, in order to not have to iron EVERYTHING, we hang clothes inside. (Which may not work so well once we get more rain.)

Diapers are another issue. I do a load of diapers a day (if there is electricity). Now, first I hang rise all the diapers (I wear rubber gloves). Then I put them in the washer with a little soap. Oh yeah, I always put some water in the washer to help rinse the soap out of the dispenser. So, they take their 2 ½ hour bath and then I take them out and put them in a plastic tub. Then I go to the bathroom and put hot water in the tub. I wash them in the hot water then return them to the washing machine. There is a cycle that is rinse and spin only so I use that. But I add hot water to the machine manually- one reason a full cycle takes 2 ½ hours is because it takes so long to fill with water and hot water takes even longer ¦this is why put the hot water in. Once they are done I hang them up in the house ¦usually in the guest bedroom.

It took me 4 weeks to get this system down but it worked pretty well. However, now we live in the hostel and I have a new system ¦her name is Monica and she is great!   There are days when I do our laundry, though.   We have a nice BIG washing machine here ¦I just figured out that it takes 6 buckets of water to fill it up!   Now, when I do laundry, I fill the washer, then fill my six buckets so that they are ready for the rinse cycle.   It works pretty well.   Once the wash is done, I hang it on the line to dry (therefore, wash needs to be done in the morning).   After it dries, I put it in the dryer for 20 minutes to make sure that I kill all the Mango fly eggs (so we don't get worms!)   That is how we do laundry in Nigeria.

Alycia  lives in Jos, Nigeria  with her husband Toby and 2 year old son, Caden.  Read more about their lives at and


  1. Oh good gracious…that post makes me feel WAY better about my own laundry woes!

  2. WOW. It never ceased to amaze me how trip (whether temporary or permanent) outside of the US always show me how fortunate I am to live here! Things like laundry and running water are luxuries that I take for granted! Thank you for following the Lord’s call to serve the people of Nigeria – I pray that He uses both you and your family to change lives!

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