My sister and I have a seemingly inveterate interest in laundry. We have a lot of it, which, for me, as a single person, is way above the average. When we have extra time on our hands — like when we are stuck in our houses enduring a snow day — we throw in a “bonus load.”
Sometimes when I go out for my walk, I set the timer on the washing machine so a load will be going (and nearly done) by the time I get back. I know, I know, what if the hose breaks and floods the house? Sure, but I could be upstairs when that happens and not know about it anyway. It’s not like I go out with the dryer on. I stopped that when I was in Dunkin' Donuts once and a woman there got a call that her house was on fire. The local paper reported it was a dryer fire, so now I always stay home when the dryer is on. That way I can go up in flames along with the laundry, I guess.
I am obsessed about cleaning the dryer vent. I do it after every load, and sometimes even during the load if I see that it looks full. I have one of those long brushes, so I stick that down in the hole, too, and every year or so I have the dryer vent blown out. I actually had to have my handyman create a trap door on the deck so the cleaners could access the vent outside, but, since the dryer nearly caught fire because the previous owners NEVER cleaned the vent, it was a clever solution to the problem and a good investment.
Whenever her son arrives home from college, my sister is up to her knees in laundry. We know that he does his own laundry on occasion, but when he comes home on breaks, she can’t wait to get her hands on every item of clothing he lugs home so she can wash it herself. I know the feeling. Boys are just grungy, and you can’t tell if the stuff they bring with them is the clean stuff or the dirty stuff because it is never neatly folded. And the sheets? Washing them hardly seems like enough. Beating them on rocks down at the river might not be enough. Quarantine and disinfecting might do the trick. Possibly. But we aren’t sure.
One summer my BFF’s son lived in my house while working at the Johnson & Johnson law department. Although he was happy to do his own laundry (his version of the truth), I pounced on any pile left in the laundry room. I never could tell whether he had already washed his clothes or they were waiting to be washed.
As for me, there are numerous laundry rules. The sheets have to be washed before they are used for the season (flannel in the winter and cotton in the summer) just to get that fresh laundry smell. I draw the line at having sheets, towels and underwear hanging outside on a clothes line, but I have been known to take the rack and put it on the deck to get that natural, fresh air smell as the stuff dries.
Of course, any new pajamas or underwear must be washed BEFORE wearing. You do this, too, right? It’s not just me.
In my world, there is a towel “code.” Bath towels are used once on one side and then turned over for the second use before they are relegated to the laundry pile. My BFF insists this is a crazy rule, since, as she says, “You’re clean when you get out of the shower.” Nonetheless, I wash them after two uses. Add in my towels from aqua aerobics — which get washed after every single use to rid them of that chemical smell from the pool — and there’s always enough for a load around here.
I am pretty fussy when it comes to folding my clean clothes — fussy to the point of obsessed. When I broke my leg once and couldn’t carry the laundry basket to do my own wash, my mother did a load for me and folded everything neatly. I insisted that I could put it away. The moment her car was out of sight, I stood on my crutches and refolded everything. Try doing that to the sheets when you don’t have a leg to stand on. I never told her, either.
I really hate it when I’m taking the laundry out of the dryer and I find one big, long thread from something in the load, and it is tangled around the towels and socks and underwear, and I’m are afraid to pull it for fear that something in there will completely unravel (although it never does) and I’ll ruin it. I had three threads in a recent load, untangled the mess and cut them off. So if my socks flop or my underwear goes south or a towel disintegrates, I have no one to blame but me.
Recently I switched from liquid detergent to those little plastic pods. The advantage there is there is one per load, so if the package contains 22 pods, that’s good for 22 loads. On the bottle of liquid detergent, it says I can get 32 loads, but I doubt I ever do. I’d keep track, but then I’d know I was completely crazy. This way we can only suspect insanity without complete verification.
I also use the “color catchers” you can buy in the detergent section. Sure, I sort my whites and darks, but once in a while there is some deep pink or red thing that you just want to throw into the load and not risk having all the whites turn pink. Throw in a color catcher and the segregation of colors is not necessary. As someone who has some pink dish towels that started as white dish towels, I really appreciate — though I don’t understand — this technological innovation. I just know it works. My sister, ever the doubting Thomas of the family, still does a separate load just of red garments. When her son was little, it seemed that every team he played on wore red, so she had a separate rack in the laundry room where the red stuff would be hung to dry.
Have you ever thrown something in the hamper or laundry basket only to take it out before it is washed and subjected it to the “sniff test” for one more possible wearing? “I only wore it for a few hours,” you think, figuring you can get away with it just one more time before it absolutely has to be washed. The converse of this situation is when I wear something very briefly and immediately toss it in the laundry. I’m doing a load anyway, and I have enough underwear to take an around-the-world trip without doing laundry, so why not?
Recently I had a dream that I threw my bathing suit in the dryer and it came out like one of Barbie's bathing suits. Since you're not even supposed to put bathing suits in the washing machine, throwing them in the dryer is grounds for arrest by the laundry police, I suppose. I wonder if I can file a “missing sock” report with the laundry police…
Last night, I carried the laundry thing a step further when I had the urge to iron a few items, much to the consternation of my Facebook friends, who implored me not to do it. They suggested I rewash and throw these things into the dryer and remove them quickly (which I had initially done), or buy a steamer or even take them to the dry cleaner – any alternative except ironing. That reminded me of growing up, when I would open the refrigerator and find — amid the fruits and vegetables — my father’s carefully rolled, dampened shirts, waiting to be ironed. My mother used a sprinkle top on an old Coke bottle specifically for this purpose. Sound familiar?
Laundry is one common denominator we all share. Even if you send it out, or if someone else does it for you, we all have it, deal with it, and it feels so good when it’s done.