Still without power, some Puerto Ricans are making DIY washing machines — Quartz

Most Puerto Ricans have gone without power for more than a month. Some lucky ones have kept the lights on with expensive—and noisy—diesel generators. The rest are making do without the usual comforts of air conditioning, ice, and washing machines.

But where many see a cumbersome chore, others see opportunity.

Entrepreneurs across the island are Entrepreneurs across the island are bringing back the washboard. In pharmacies and supermarkets, and in car trunks along the sides of roads, you can see them peddling their old-school wares. Some are fabricated in wood, others in composite materials. One version in the town of Guayama, which remains completely off the grid, appealed to patriotic fervor awakened by hurricane Maria. It was emblazoned with the post-Maria slogan “Puerto Rico Se Levanta,” or Puerto Rico Rises. . .


via Still without power, some Puerto Ricans are making DIY washing machines — Quartz

5 thoughts on “Still without power, some Puerto Ricans are making DIY washing machines — Quartz

  1. This is what we ALL should be doing. I can still remember my aunt’s old washboard. She’d set it up in the tub and get to rubbing clothes up and down on it. And did she build upper body strength or did she build upper body strength? She built upper body strength. Then came the old-fashioned washing machine where you pulled the clothes through a wringer to get as much water out of them as you could before you hung them on the line OUTSIDE! Imagine that! Remember when clothes were hanging on lines with the breeze whipping them dry? That clean, fresh outdoor scent still clinging to them? But oh no! We had to get washers that practically yank the clothes off your back and pick which cycle is needed and don’t even get me started on dryers.

    It would seem that we will only go back to the basics when we are forced to go back to the basics. More’s the pity.


    • Shellby, my grandmother still had her old wringer washing when she died (after they stopped making them). Pulling the clothes out and running them through the wringer was the only way she could make sure they were really clean. I know washing machines were supposed to be labor saving devices but women didn’t do less work when they came out – they simply washed the family clothes more often.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good point, JoAnn. We have a really fragile grid system here in New Zealand and a lot of people are anticipating its eventual breakdown by either getting solar or exploring older technologies that don’t require electricity.


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