Accessible Algarve
Washing Clothes like a Portuguese

Washing Clothes like a Portuguese

First Published November 7th 2010 by Constance 

You know how you have seen photos, or travel programs on television, or even strolled the charming streets of European cities and thought to yourself…”if only they didn’t have that laundry hanging out!”.

Sorry folks, we don’t have dryers here in our charming little city apartments. Back in the U.S, I would never consider living without a dryer. I washed and dried like I owned a nuclear power plant! No more. I am now educated in the ways of the E.U. in doing the laundry.

Our apartment has a small front loaded washer with odd symbols that took me over a month to figure out. We are on the 4th floor; it’s called the 3rd floor because the 1st floor is called 0 here. I don’t know….it just is, so if you come here and someone says they are on the tres floor, it’s really the 4th floor. Ask if they have an elevador (elevator, but you could have probably guessed that one).

Outside the window is 3 pieces of thin rope to hang laundry. It is treacherous business and I have dropped quite a few clothespins down, luckily I have not hit an innocent passerby. Then, on the balcony is another clothesline.

Oh, just now I see across the square, someone from the top floor of an apartment has had a piece of their laundry fly off the line and down to the street. On windy days I have learned to use additional clothespins for safety. I lost a really good beach towel at first, blew right off and someone now has a great new beach towel. Lesson learned, use lots of clothespins.

Planning is required before doing the wash. I check the weather; if it is going to rain, do not do laundry. Need at least 2 days of sun. Our building doesn’t get direct sunlight so it takes longer for the clothes to dry. Also, the clotheslines don’t hold much so what to wash has to be planned. Also, it’s difficult to tell if the clothes are damp or just cold. Really a judgment call, slept on slightly damp sheets one night, ick.

So why are all of Europe and the rest of the world hanging their laundry out to dry instead of using a dryer? Electricity costs lots of money, now I know it costs lots of money in the States, but here it costs really lots of money. Also, Europeans seem more aware of conserving resources than Americans, just an observation…not a judgment. Dryers use an incredible amount of the stuff, very few people have them. If it an emergency, there are a few Laundromats where people take the wet clothes and put them in the big dryers for a few Euros. Notice, their WET CLOTHES, if it has been raining for a long time, they drag them to the dryer and have to wait forever for a dryer to use. Again…that’s life.

Been reading about residents in the fancy gated communities in the States suing the home owners associations to allow clotheslines…as long as they can’t be seen from the street. Heck, at the very least a hundred people see my underwear every time I do the wash. Haven’t heard any gossip about my preference for red in panties and black in bras. Go get a clothesline, if I can do it, the laundry addict, can give up the dryer, anyone can do it!

One of the things I was concerned with when I first began hanging out my laundry in front of the entire city is do I hang my “unmentionables”, or do I let them discreetly dry inside? I studied all the other laundry hanging from the apartments, there were the bras, panties, boxers, you name it, all proudly taking the sun, freed from their dark drawers, ready to serve their owner’s body again. So, my big American bras hang out from the 3rd (really 4th)floor balcony, chatting with the sweater hanging from the clothesline across the street.

My clothes just love hanging outside seeing their friends. Some have told me they find the neighbors very materialistic…I guess that is just the way they are made.

Pin It


Help us make the Algarve Accessible!


Subscribe Now

* Please use a valid email address as a confirmation will be sent to the address specified.