Men, Women and Laundry | by Wanja Kavengi

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The difference between men and women is in how they handle their laundry.

1. Wearing Clothes


A woman will wear her clothes once. Her blouses will be carefully ironed, with all the buttons intact. Where a button is missing and she HAS to wear that blouse, a small safety pin will be used. She will wear deodorant to avoid yellowing the blouses under the armpits. When, say, some coffee spills on her, she will panic and run to a sink and splash water on her blouse to clean off the coffee, and maybe rush home to change into another blouse. But she will, first of all, have a bath. The stained blouse will be left soaking in a basin of Jik.


A man will wear his clothes as many times as possible. Maybe because he has only 4 shirts and 2 pairs of pants (and 1 pair of socks and shoes). He will not see the need to iron his clothes because that is too much work and no one will notice the creases anyway. Besides, what is more important; to use that one socket to plug in an iron or to plug in a charger and charge his phone? He will only notice that a button is missing when someone points it out. He wears deodorant but the armpits of his shirts are still yellow. When, say, some coffee spills on him, he will use the audit report he is holding to frantically try to wipe off the coffee from his shirt before giving up 3 seconds later, saying that it will dry. The heat from his body will dry the coffee spilt on his shirt, he will say. Plus, no one will notice the large, brown stain covering his entire chest.

2.  Determining The Clothes Are Dirty


A woman will decide that her clothes are dirty when:

  • She has worn the clothes an entire day
  • She has worn the clothes for only 8 minutes (before changing into another outfit)
  • She has not worn the clothes but they still smell like Sharon in Account’s perfume (they hugged once in an office party and her perfume is still clinging onto her clothes weeks later)
  • Especially if that perfume is the same perfume her ex’s new girlfriend wears (this will most likely result in her giving away said clothes to her younger sister because that is waaaay  more than just dirty)
  • The dress or skirt still has a stain even after washing it half a million times


A man will decide that his clothes are dirty when he sniffs them (after wearing them 56,789 times) and can no longer lie to himself that they don’t smell like a dog that has been hit by a car and is rotting by the roadside.

3.  Putting The Dirty Clothes Away


A woman will have a basket where all dirty clothes go to. She will organisedly (if such a word doesn’t exist, it does now) put her dirty clothes in the basket after folding them. Jeans and jackets and other heavy clothing will go to the bottom, and the lightest clothing, like blouses and camisoles, will go to the top. She will have a separate basket for brassieres and panties. She will then cover the clothes with the basket lid or a leso.


A man will put his dirty clothes at the spot where he undressed. If he removed his socks at the door, they shall remain there. If he removed his shirt in the kitchen, it shall remain there. If he removed his pants on the couch, it shall remain there. He will walk around the house in his boxers and a beer can in hand, getting tripped over by a belt here or a vest there, and he will tell himself that he should put the clothes away in a messy pile at a corner in his bedroom, but after he is done watching the Europa League. When he is done watching the Europa League, he will fall asleep on the couch.

4.  Getting Ready To Do The Laundry


A woman will select her dirty clothes in categories: whites, light, heavy, the ones that drip colour, negligees. She will soak the whites in Jik and a good amount of Ariel. She will soak her underwear in a separate, special basin only meant for soaking and washing underwear in, using hot water and Dettol.


A man will get ready to do the laundry by watching Top Gear.

5.  Washing


A woman will wash her clothes carefully, starting with whichever category she chooses. Once she is done with a category, she will go to hang the clothes after rinsing them thoroughly using Sta Soft. She will wipe the clothesline(s) with a small cloth meant for wiping any dust off the clothesline(s), and clean all the pegs before using them.


A man will take his eyes off Top Gear for a few seconds and realise that he was to do his laundry yesterday. He will get off the couch an pick his dirty clothes from various points on the floor in his house, sniffing them and putting the “cleaner” ones on one shoulder and the ones that smell like rot on the other shoulder. He only has one bucket. He will open the tap, and while the bucket fills with water, he will decide to watch one last episode of Top Gear. Three episodes later, he will remember the bucket which is overflowing with water from the running tap. He doesn’t have OMO. He doesn’t even have any bar soap. He is then forced to use the small Lifebuoy soap to wash just the collar and sleeves of one shirt. The rinse water will still be soapy. He doesn’t have pegs. The one peg he has, he used it to pin one corner of the bedroom curtain to a nail on the wall. So he will use the buttons on his shirt to hold the shirt in place.

6.  Unhanging The Clothes


A woman will check on her clothes every hour, unhanging whatever clothes are dry. She will then rearrange the clothes still on the clothesline neatly before going back to the house to fold them nicely and put them away in the wardrobe or bag.


A man will forget that he has a shirt on the clothesline, where it will remain for a week. He will say he lost a shirt. Or someone stole it. He will finally remember when he sees it one day after, miraculously, getting home at 4PM. It will give him great joy because he doesn’t have a clean shirt to wear tomorrow. But after dangling on the line for an entire week, accumulating dust, the shirt is dirty again.

And that is, perhaps, why they eventually get a mama wa kufua nguo.

the Magunga

Wanja Kavengi – The Retired Catfish of Malindi

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About Author

I am an exhausted mother in wine-stained pyjamas.


  1. I like. veeeeery much that a man will get ready to do laundry by watching top gear! spot on. but you have to agree a man’s way is far more exciting. right?

  2. That’s very very very true of us men. I couldn’t help but look around how my sitting room is occupied with clothes all over! Wacha niziokote kabla Wanja aingie huku.

  3. Earnest Hassan on

    (Partly) guilty as charged. I have a neighbor (a lady) who chides me whenever i wash clothes, because i rinse with soapy water and “hang” them undisorganisedly. I am looking forward to a day she’ll stop laughing and wash them

  4. Wanja this couldn’t be truer (if such a word exists). You have described my laundry routine to a tee down to the folding of dirty laubdry before it goes into the dirty basket.

    Oh and you missed out on a woman will set aside laundry that needs repair amd repair it before washing or immediately after washing but before folding/ironing – or atleast i do that

  5. Wanja this couldn’t be truer (if such a word exists). You have described my laundry routine to a tee down to the folding of dirty clothes before it goes into the dirty basket.

    Oh and you missed out on a woman:
    1. Will set aside laundry that needs repair and tend to it before washing or immediately after washing but before folding/ironing – or atleast i do that

    2. Will not do her laundry in the same bucket that she uses to clean the house or clean dirty shoes

  6. I could be a guy with the way I leave my cloths on the floor. I too have that peg color matching problem, sorting clothes by color then folding dirty cloths into the hamper (when they eventually get there)

  7. Is there room for a guy on both extremes, (I have a dirty clothes basket, separate clothes, have numerous pegs and wipe clothing lines BUT I also watch top gear in boxers and a beer on my hand)

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