November 30, 2007
This is our regular column called Ask a Brazilian”, the idea being that you can quite literally ask a question of a Brazilian for those issues you aren’t sure about but perhaps dare not ask someone else. It is meant as a bit of fun and answers should not be construed as expert opinion or the definitive reply on the matter. For that reason we ask you to please send comments and experiences in order to add to our replies.
I have really enjoyed all the answers to questions in this section, but I have one of my own. I visited Brazil back in June and July and will be returning. Something that I found strange was that most people don’t seem to have washing macines. I understand this in the poorer areas, because here in the United States people don’t always own one either. But even in the nice buildings lining Paulista, I observed many people doing their washing by hand. Why? Also, since people don’t have machines, why are there not more laundromats where you can pay a little to do your own washing instead of the dry-cleaner only places that are expensive?
I am worried about this since I will be there for a while and am not so good at doing my washing by hand. Plus, jeans just don’t reshape if they don’t get their half hour of dryer time!
Question: Are you sure you haven’t seen any washing machine where they’re washing by hand?
I ask you this because most people do have a washing machine in Brazil. People do wash clothes by hand when it comes to delicate items, such as silk, lingerie, that favorite shirt etc. Although maybe it would be better if I said by a “maid’s hands”. Most people have someone to clean, cook and do laundry for R$50 a day! If you need it everyday that drops to around R$25.
Unlike the US, where no one I ever met had a laundry machine or a maid, in Brazil both are really accessible. That’s why we don’t have laundromats. (And I’m with you, I really miss them) But… this is Brazil, a place where people pay, not much, for every service they need; dry-cleaners are a service you won’t need.
It is not common but possible for you to find condos with a laundry, and that certainly could happen around Paulista, considering that many of it’s buildings are filled with students.
I don’t know how long you will stay but consider buying both laundry and a dryer. You can sell them later on mercadolivre.com, the Brazilian equivalanet of eBay.
Check out www.pontofrio.com.br, or lojasamericanas.com.br, where laundry machines can be found for R$600. Dryers are more or less the same, but you can live without one, Kristen, althought I know what you mean about jeans…
To help on your search:
washing machine = maquina de lavar roupa or lavadora de roupa.
dryer machine = maquina de secar roupa or secadora de roupa.
Last important thing: Searching for “maquinas de lavar” you will find something called “tanquinho”. Ignore it.
Beijos, boa sorte, and pls come back to ask if you need so.
Vanessa T. Bauer
Im still in Brazil, and have been here for about two months, staying in 10 or more houses, hotels, pousadas and hostels, and where I am now is the only place with what I would call a washing machine – the same as we have in England.
Even saying that, it doesnt seem to function as well as the ones I was using back home in terms of getting stains etc out of clothing. All of the other places had what they called a washing machine outside – which was basically a large bin which you fill with water beforehand, and when the clothes are inside, it moves the water (and therefore the clothes) around. My girlfriend (Brazilian, who thinks that washing clothes is different here as well after living in New Zealand for 18 months, and then in the UK for another 18 months after meeting me) taught me that after this washing machine, any marks on the clothing are removed by taking the clothes to wash by hand – for this the houses usually have either a double or triple sink, one of which is sloped with a washboardtype surface, and scrubbing with a brush, before rinsing in a sink full of water three times!
I have seen the washing machinesin Lojas Americanos for about R$600, but they are not the same as what we have in England. Also, there, all but the very poor/unwilling wash clothes themselves have washing machines, it is certainly not a rare thing! Lastly, in my house, the house I was brought up in, the houses of every single friend and family member I have ever been in, we use hot water, usually 40c (as anything above that the enzymes in the washing powder denature and are rendered ineffective!), and most stains (including grease and pretty much everything else, obviously there are a few exceptions) can be removed by a simple wash and spin dry cycle, taking about 20 minutes, even by the most inexperienced operator!
One more thing, and I know this is largely unrelated, electronics are massively expensive here! Things that we buy for around 70GBP are being sold for R$700-obviously this is an extreme example, but I havent yet encountered an electronic item that is being sold for less here than in England. Typically, using the exchange rate I got (when the pound was low, 3 reais for 1 pound), consumer technology is double the price. Presumably this is due to tax…?
Jon, Somerset, England
Are there any burning questions you have about Brazil, or other issues that you’re curious about, such as Brazilian culture? If so, send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ask a Brazilian” in the subject. We will forward to our Brazilian experts, and publish the best questions (and replies) on the site.
Previous questions in this article series:
Ask a Brazilian: Picking Teeth
Ask a Brazilian: Lozenge or Candy?
Ask a Brazilian: Liberal or Jealous?
Ask a Brazilian: Truck Wheels
Ask a Brazilian: Tolerance
Ask a Brazilian: Screens
Ask a Brazilian: Brazilian Wax
Ask a Brazilian: Flashing Lights
Ask a Brazilian: Lemon and Limes
Ask a Brazilian: Shocking Showers“