What “ngiyawasha timphla tami” or doing my wash entails here in Swaziland

Ever wonder what it would be like if doing your laundry wasn’t as easy as plopping it in a machine and pressing go? Living here in Swaziland gave me no other option but to find out! Three things to know at first: this is my most dreaded chore here (because it takes the longest), adverse weather is not your friend (the wind WILL steal your clothing) & lastly you don’t get to dry your intimates on the line with everything else (too inappropriate for visitors on my homestead to be seeing my thong? .. Prob.) okay and last thing! Washers and dryers are amazing assets, so don’t be taking them for granted. 

Today was my “wash day”. I call it this because it takes up a vast majority of my day. 9am I started the process and didn’t finish hanging my clothes on the line until 2pm, and this is without the time it takes of putting the clothes away after they dry. 

I first go through my hamper and put back the clothes that don’t smell too bad, which ends up being only a few articles. I use my bathing tub to wash my clothes as it is the biggest. I procrastinate this task, so I usually do have a lot to wash. I fill the tub with my clothes & put hand washing powder on top. I carry this outside to my water tank, along with two other tubs that I use to rinse my clothes. This isn’t too far away from my hut. You can see my hut in the back of the photo.

From there I fill the bucket and churn my clothes like a washing machine. Then, I let it sit for an hour so stains will be removed with more ease. 

You know how dirty your clotheds are by the color of the water 😑

I scrub the clothes together with my hands to “clean” them.. Or at least get the smell away :). From there I rinse the clothes twice in each side bucket of water. 

Ally- this seems pretty simple what takes you so long?! .. Just think of every article of clothing you wear in a two week period, add in a lot of dirt & having to scrub them by hand. It’s not a hard task, but it is time consuming.

Lastly! Hanging them on the line to dry. I usually clean the heavier things first, such as my jeans or sweaters as they take longer to dry. In the winter the sun sets by 5pm, so I need the thick clothing on the line by at least 1pm for it to dry.

5 hours later- task completed

When I came back to the states in January for surgery, my mom washed all of my clothes I brought home. She had to wash them twice because she said they still had an “odor” to them. Could of been from the burning trash or the cows who knows… I don’t smell it anymore!

Lesson of the post- give your washer or dryer an extra tap on the metal next time you use it 🙂 

4 thoughts on “What “ngiyawasha timphla tami” or doing my wash entails here in Swaziland

  1. OMG! I just loaded my machine and now I’m so thankful for my washer, I can do anything else and in a half hour have clean, washed clothes. This reminds me of how I used to wash clothes with my wringer-washer machine in the 60’s and 70’s. Also washing cloth diapers for 6 children at that time, very time consuming. You will so appreciate doing your laundry when you arrive home next year.


  2. I love that you share these seemingly mundane (to Americans) tasks and how different they are from what we know. 🙂 And I love that you share the terms in the local language. You are seriously learning so much.


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