Washing clothes is something that might seem difficult if you’re blind or visually impaired, however, like most things, it can be done. Read on or watch the video below for a few tips as well as products you might find handy.
Make Your Machine Accessible
If you’re learning to do your washing for the first time, a good first step is to make sure your washing machine is accessible. How best to do this will vary depending on how your machine works and what the controls are like, but generally, Bumpons are a good way to do this. More on those here.
If your washing machine has a dial that you turn to select a setting, place one Bumpon at the setting you intend to use most often, and place another one on the dial selector. That way when the two Bumpons are lined up, you will know that it is on the correct setting. If your washing machine is touchscreen controlled, then this can be a bit more complicated. Try chatting with a sighted person and see if you can use a similar method to the one described above e.g. place a Bumpon on the button or buttons you will need to use or place them just under the buttons so that you have an idea of where to ‘look’.
There are a few ways to organise your clothes so that you have less chance of washing white and dark clothes together for example. You could use PenFriend washable labels to record what colour the clothes you wear most are, or you could use the colour recognition function on Seeing AI. If you’re not much of a tech fan, RNIB or Cobolt in the UK also do some talking colour detectors, but these do tend to be quite expensive and from my experience these are not the most reliable.
You can purchase a wash basket with two separate sections, meaning you could have light coloured clothes in one section and darker clothes in the other. These are not specific to the visually impaired so can be purchased from almost anywhere. The easiest way to get one of these would be to look on services such as Amazon or eBay, or just shop around to see if anywhere local to you stocks them. If you want any help looking for one of these don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll be more than willing to help we’re cautious of linking to some things as they may suddenly become unavailable and that wouldn’t help you at all!
Another product that we find extremely useful is colour catchers. These are small, thin sheets that you place in your washing machine with your clothes, and it will help prevent the different colours from affecting each other. Although these are useful, they don’t work perfect every time (especially if you put a white in with darks!), so we would still recommend trying to separate light and dark colours the best you can, and adding a colour catcher just in case.
Use Pods Instead of Powder
Our final tip, a common thing many visually impaired people find challenging is pouring powder or liquid into the machine. The best way around this is to use washing pods, which then means you don’t need to use washing powder/liquid and don’t have to worry about getting it everywhere apart from in the machine. Simply place one or two of the pods in the machine, along with your clothes and colour catcher if you decide to use these, and that’s it. But watch out for these exploding in the box or in your hands as they can make a huge mess and are difficult to clean up, although we’ve not had this happen to us yet we just want to make sure you’re aware of all eventualities!!
These are just our tips, but as always we’d love to hear from you. If you have found this page useful, or you have any tips of your own that you’d like to share, please let us know.