washing machines and landscape – some thoughts

Washing clothes in a tub with a plunger influences one’s perception of washing machine design and the ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPE OF WASHING CLOTHES, washing clothes is about people, water, the environment, and animals.   These thoughts below are just a few thoughts on the topic.

For residential design, locally having say 10% of houses with shower rooms with enough tiled and drained floor to allow for a temporary wash basin and drying rack is excellent, and in the event of power outages, secure (especially in homes with off-grid water supplies). Nearby community laundromats are greatly appreciated, and valuable to a community. So if a home is without an electric washer, the laundromat might provide the best place and equipment for a laundry. A hand-wash pre-wash before heading to the laundromat is good at times, depending on what the soil level is of the clothes one is bringing there – such as if more than a spot-pre-cleaning is needed (there is usually a sink at the laundromat to do pre-treating). There are times though a community laundromat is closed, or too far away for the moment, etc.. And then, washing with a hand laundry machine might simply be an activity that one might enjoy from time to time at home – its exercise.

Once upon a time, there were exterior community places to wash clothes, and still are in some areas, whether local outdoor natural water supplies, or water brought to a central location, such as to a fountain. Hanging clothes outdoors isn’t always appreciated visually, though certainly is sometimes. Clothes hung outdoors have a good smell, and no electric need be brought through electric lines for this, and can be put to use for other needs. As easy as it seems it must be to find a good place for a clothing line, and certainly some locations afford many possibilities, in other locations, such as heavily wooded areas, to find a place for a line might be more of a challenge…though, except for bird excrement and pine pitch, sap and pollen, and these might be anywhere depending on the time of the year, there is good air-flow in the woods. For dark clothes, or clothes of fugitive colors, probably a dark woods is a great place to dry clothes, as long as care is taken to not put the clothes under certain trees.

Washing clothes in a portable metal wash-basin on legs, one realizes that part of the final rinse water drained into a smaller wash basin set underneath can be used to start a small wash of something dirty below, while above, the rest of that water can be used to start another load of something that needs plenty of cleaning. Whether double washing machines use clean but “grey” water I do not know, but a washer with a small washer integrated is practical.

Laundry machine appreciation rises for ones that have appropriate dimensions (stacked or not), good proportion, a door swing that is correct for where it is going, and features such as SOAK, SPIN SPEED, WATER TEMPERATURE SELECTION, EXTRA RINSE, and SOIL LEVEL. Some even have quite sculptural aspects. Having washed clothes by hand, EXTRA WASH is one of the perks – one can begin with a little soap, and choice of water, wash, rinse, then do a second wash, if the soil level is high.

The joy of a laundromat or central outdoor washing place that is busy, is one might have some time for a good chat. Time to hang out doing not much else – down-time. The joy of a quiet laundromat with a table might be time for starting or finishing a project, for standing at the door to watch the street life, look at the local environment and sketch, or time to let the routine wash away not only a bit of dirt, but perhaps a bit of sadness. The term “reflection” for both water, and thinking, might have often come to mind as dirty clothes soaked, darkening water even in a lighter-colored vessel into dark water holding reflections. Then again, letting clothes soak without agitation isn’t as effective. Maybe so much for that theory. But then, in a natural body of water, agitating would pull up sand from a lake or stream or pond’s bottom, and so, just leaving them be on a ledge under a waterfall, or in a basket to soak, or in a place where they might be trapped by a slow-moving or fast-moving whirlpool, unable to move further downstream… (no reflection in a whirlpool, but reflecting on whirlpools, Whirlpool is the name of one of our greatest appliance manufacturers.)

The environment of water and American washing machine brand-names are interesting to think about together. There is Whirlpool, as just mentioned. Maytag might not seem washing machine oriented, but if children came along to wash clothes by a fountain or stream on a good spring day, a game of tag while washing might have been super. May would be a great month to begin washing out of doors. Speed Queen – well, those words seem further removed, or more apart from the environment than a “whirlpool” is. (Queen bees speed about busily buzzing from flower to flower, pollinating flowers that will seed). Queen and Clean sound similar. Visually, ee, ee – these letters repeated look somewhat like ripples – and they are made in a town named Ripon, ripon, ripples-on – how would one turn ripples on in a stream? Maybe with currents.

Presumably once upon a time there would have been strict rules of comportment in terms of location, to follow for clothes washing – washing the dirtiest of clothes the furthest down a fountain run, and those already washed once, or quite clean, nearer the top. A fun article I read recently online reminded thru-hikers on the Appalachian trail to please do just that – wash one’s soiled garments downstream of where people are getting drinking water, for example (simplified in a fountain, with a spout, and probably in a stream with a waterfall). The base of a waterfall would provide perhaps a good sturdy clothes plunging action. Indeed, considering a waterfall I enjoyed when younger, with ledge to sit on below the water, I am imagining that ledge used to clean people and clothes, as well as a place for healing and rejuvenating – cleaning is part of rejuvenating.

So, next time near a washing machine, don’t just look at it as one more piece of useful machinery that though useful, is somehow lesser – less remembered, less discussed, less noticed, even, until the importance is considered, seemingly less important. It might be, essentially a collection of metal, rivets, plastic, and more albeit put together with excellent engineering and craftsmanship, and providing important life-enhancing function, nonetheless at some point might be one more collection of junk when no longer able to run. How much material has been collected and recycled to make it might come to mind, as might how of the material is recycled (or what happens in the environment when they are not). Importantly though, the washing machine should be considered a piece of equipment that deserves respect, and that is a creation with a history of washing and people who have made it.

My preference is not WiFi compatible; everyone though would have their own ideas about technology and washing machines current and future. At first I wrote my preference was a washing machine that doesn’t “walk and talk”. That was a bit too off the cuff careless though – I’ve seen social media posts many months back on washing machines put in trucks for mobility, to reach people outdoors that need them, and that is great. So, maybe some washing machines will become more mobile. The washing machine is an indoor place (unless it indeed can walk), where water is set into motion to make what we wear comfortable, presentable, and pleasant, making our lives more pleasant in turn.


1.This article is much inspired by the duality of fountains, for beauty, and as a source of water for many needs and activities, including washing clothes. As I understood it, washing once upon a time in Europe, or at least in sunny Provence where textiles are so splendid, happened about the fountains, which were a gathering place. I am uncertain if wash occurred in the fountains themselves, if a simple basin, when so many other needs for water also existed, and I did not ask my Professor that question (a Professor of the Ethnology of Provence, at the University of Aix-Marseille). I’ve much shared this bit of knowledge he passed on to his students (in French), over the years, much enjoying and being drawn to both the beauty and functionality of fountains, and such as the beauty and functionality of so many flowers and plants for greater living and improved health.

2. The article that included information on bathing and washing downstream while on the Adirondack Trail was at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ju01IPSwc4, and is by Homemade Wanderlust, and is called “How to Stay Clean While on Trail (Bathroom, Bathing, Shaving, Laundry, Hygiene, Periods, etc.”.

3. an excellent Maytag washer, a beautiful and functionally amazing Speed Queen, and good information and advertisements and videos about some great Whirlpool washers and Samsung Washers (Samsung has double washing machines, and even double dryers), and information about many other top brands – there are many good machines for clothes washing out there. The “Breathing Mobile Washer – Portable Hand Powered High Efficiency Clothes Washing Machine” (text from Amazon’s website). A Coca Cola drink cooler wash basin.

A social media post about a company in Australia providing mobile washing machines to people that are homeless.

4. Walks, swims, photographs and videos from the outdoors.