Laundry Around the World

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    Laundry Around the World

    Greenland. Uriel Sinai/ Getty Images

    The chore of doing laundry is universal. Every country and culture has its own routines; some are primitive and others have evolved as the country's infrastructure has modernized with electricity, natural gas, and running water.

    As you travel around the world, observing how laundry is done offers an insight into the area's economy and culture. When we complain about having to do laundry in the United States in our automated laundromats or inconvenient basement laundry rooms, take a moment to consider how others on our planet must do laundry in order to have clean clothes and linens.

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    Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai, India

    Bethany Clarke/ Getty Images

    Nearly every early morning in central Mumbai, India, more than 8,000 people can be found hard at work at Dhobi Ghat. Known as the world's largest laundry, Dhobi Ghat has 800 wash stations with flogging stones where local workers report at 4 a.m. to begin handwashing clothes and linens for schools, hospitals, hotels, and individuals.

    The washing done by the Dhobis, as the workers are called, is very different from our idea of handwashing a few delicate items in a sink. The clothes and linens are literally beaten on a rock surface to loosen soil and then rinsed and hung to air dry.

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    Rajasthan, India

    Rajasthan India
    Frederic Soltan/ Corbis News/ Getty Images

    For those in rural India, there is no central dhobi or laundry. Women must rely on the river for their laundry needs.

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    Dolo Town, Liberia

    John Moore/ Getty Images

    Even in the midst of an Ebola epidemic in the quarantined town of Dolo Town, Liberia, laundry must be done. Women wash clothes by hand and then lay them in the sun to dry.

    Fortunately, the ultraviolet rays of the sun help to whiten clothes. However, the ability to disinfect fabrics to kill the virus requires additional chemical treatment that is not always readily available.

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    Dubai, United Arab Emirates

    Chris Jackson/ Getty Images

    Even in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, there are still those who must clean their clothes under very poor conditions. 

    While most of the residents of Dubai have all of the modern conveniences for laundry (and employees to do the work), the laborers who arrive from around the world to build the futuristic city still handwash laundry in a sink and rely upon the hot desert sun to dry the fabric.

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    Dujail, Iraq

    John Moore/ Getty Images

    This photo, taken in 2005 in Dujail, Iraq, shows that even during a war the need for clean clothes and linens is important to family life. For the residents of the occupied country, doing laundry is a part of the struggle to create normalcy.

    For the American military forces, there is a long history of wartime laundry and our efforts to serve those who protect our freedoms.

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    Guagzhou, China

    Guagzhou China
    Nisa and Ulli Maier Photography/ Getty Images

    Living conditions in China's cities are extremely crowded. Nearly every apartment in this block of Guangzhou has laundry hanging from the balcony. Since living space is at such a premium, even having a washing machine is a luxury.

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    Gaza Strip, Palestine

    Marco Di Laurio/ Getty Images

    Imagine having to face the possibility of stray bullets each day when you do laundry. In Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip, this house is scarred with bullet holes but laundry must still be done.

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    Hartley Vale, Australia

    Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images

    The folks of Hartley Vale, Australia have the same modern conveniences we enjoy in the United States and even many of the same laundry detergents and stain removers. But, their wildlife seems a bit more exotic than ours.

    This Eastern Grey Kangaroo is a rescued resident of this household. Wonder if she helps by carrying clothespins in her pouch?

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    Mozambique, Africa

    Camilla Watson/ Getty Images

    This Mozambique woman headed to the river to wash the clothes and linen for her family, spreading them out on the fresh, clean grass to dry.


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    Venice, Italy

    Venice, Italy
    Iarigan-Patricia Hamilton/ Moment Open/ Getty Images

    Even in one of the world's most romantic cities, there is still laundry to be done. Most of us wouldn't mind using a clothesline for drying if it overlooked the boats on the canal.

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    Los Angles, California, USA

    Homeless Laundry LA
    David McNew/ Getty Images

    While this may look at a third world country, this is a man doing his laundry in Los Angeles, California in the United States. This homeless man bathes and does laundry in the Los Angeles River because he can not find housing in a shelter.

    There are thousands of Americans who face the same situation. You can help by volunteering in crises shelters or donating laundry supplies and monetary support. 

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    Puno, Cusco, Peru

    laundry in Puno, Cusco, Peru
    Glow Images/ Getty Images Plus

    Laundry day is often a social activity with the women of a village gathering to do laundry but also catch up on the activities of the community.

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    Arequipa, Peru

    Laundry in Monasterio de Santa Catalina
    Danita Delimont/ Gallo Images/ Getty Images Plus

    At the Monasterio de Santa Catalina (Santa Catalina Monastery) in Arequipa, Peru, large wooden bowls carved from trees are used to wash clothes. Wooden bats or clubs are used to beat out the soil. The clean water source at the Monastery is a luxury compared to the river. 

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    New Venice, Colombia

    laundry in New Venice, Colombia
    Aldo Brands/ Photolibrary/ Getty Images Plus

    For the residents of the amphibian settlement in New Venice, Colombia, the water supply for laundry is always abundant.