Zimbabweans wash dirty US dollars with soap, water
HARARE, Zimbabwe – The washing machine cycle takes about 45 minutes — and George Washington comes out much cleaner in the Zimbabwe-style laundering of dirty money.
Low-denomination U.S bank notes change hands until they fall apart here in Africa, and the bills are routinely carried in underwear and shoes through crime-ridden slums.
Some have become almost too smelly to handle, so Zimbabweans have taken to putting their $1 bills through the spin cycle and hanging them up to dry with clothes pins alongside sheets and items of clothing.
It's the best solution — apart from rubber gloves or disinfectant wipes — in a continent where the U.S. dollar has long been the currency of choice and where the lifespan of a dollar far exceeds what the U.S. Federal Reserve intends.
Zimbabwe's coalition government officially declared the U.S. dollar legal tender last year to eradicate world record inflation of billions of percent in the local Zimbabwe dollar as the economy collapsed.
The U.S. Federal Reserve destroys about 7,000 tons of worn-out money every year. It says the average $1 bill circulates in the United States for about 20 months — nowhere near its African life span of many years. [...]
Unlike here, they can't take worn notes to the bank and exchange them. Chemical cleaning fades the color, so they gently launder the bills.