Washing Machines | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Washing Machines

It's all about money. In Mexico, there ain't much, and what there is, is controlled by about a dozen families. Only recently have ordinary Mexicans earned enough to be able to buy appliances. Like washing machines. But they can't afford to pay very much, which dictates certain design constraints.


Lupita here (who could cut back on the tortillas if you ask me) is walking away from a couple of washing machines. They look like the ones my mother used in the '40s, except they don't have wringers (the proverbial ones that tits get caught in). These are portable washers, that hook up to your sink. The controls are pure simplicity: Wash hard, wash gentle. Rinse. Drain. Start, stop. That's it.

They cost less than a hundred bucks.

Being portable, they have wheels, but the manufacturer cheaped out. Given that typical floors are unevenly tiled, the dinky wheels on these babies won't roll more than a couple of feet before someone is gonna have to lift the washer. Fortunately, it doesn't weigh much. They skimped on the steel, too.

An important incentive to buy a portable washer is to avoid installation costs. Stone, concrete and brick walls make running utility lines difficult. How it's done is a laborer spends a week with a hammer and chisel, gouging out channels for pipes, drains and wiring. Plumbers and electricians then do their thing, after which someone plasters over the mess and repaints the wall.

All of this costs much less here than in the U. S. But again, money is tight. And just buying the damn washer is asking a lot. After all, hasn't your wife been doing just fine with that galvanized washtub? Maybe she'd settle for a new washboard...

You didn't see any dryers in the photo. That's 'cause there aren't any. Nobody can afford the gas or electricity to run one, and besides, drying clothes is what the roof is for. My neighbors, the Rodriguez sisters, live in a million-dollar house. They hang their laundry on the roof. No sense wasting money.

Meanwhile, Ana Maria uses our dryer all day long. Pure luxury. It's hard to get her out of the laundry room.