The Faces of Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai

Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai is the world’s largest outdoor laundry. Mundane as it may sound, this is a fascinating industry where Mumbai’s traditional washerfolk (“dhobis”) engages tirelessly in an invaluable service for the city – collecting dirty laundry, washing it, and returning it neatly pressed. We take a look at this amazing trade and the faces behind the activities.

About 5000 dhobis work at Dhobi Ghat, laundering hundreds of thousands of clothes, sheets and linens from the city’s hotels, hospitals, homes and garment factories every day.

The service is door-to-door, beginning with the pick-up of dirty laundry.

Items are sorted and sent to the washing stations.

The dirty laundry is given a thorough scrub.

Stubborn stains are removed by soaking garments in a tub of caustic soda.

Next, garments are relentlessly pounded on the flogging stone within the open-air concrete wash pens that run in rows throughout the grounds, obliterating any residual dirt and grime.

Sheets and linens from hotels and hospitals are sanitized in large boiler vats inside the facility.

Drying takes place on long lines strung overhead. Clothes are secured without the need for clothes pegs using a clever twisting of the lines. This allows the garments to be pulled off very quickly when rain looms – an extremely helpful technique especially during the monsoon season.

Once dried, the laundry is sent to the pressing and folding department.

Clean laundry is returned to owners using a traditional mode of transport.

Most of the dhobi families live on the grounds of Dhobi Ghat. Amidst the flurry of industry, we catch glimpses of life inside the world’s largest laundry.

The next time you have your laundry done in Mumbai by the dhobis, do remember these beautiful faces and the wonderful service they provide!

Written by Jack.D
Photographed by Jack.D

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1 Comment

Filed under Culture, India, Travel

One response to “The Faces of Dhobi Ghat, Mumbai

  1. Pingback: Mumbai, City of Dreams | jackisnotdull

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