On Laundry


Laundry…oh, laundry.  Laundry and I have had a love-hate relationship since I was sixteen:  Laundry loves to accumulate at a rapid rate in my closet, and I hate to do it.

I’ve long told my kids that if ever we hit the jackpot and become suddenly wealthy, the one thing that I will change about our weekly routine would be:  I would certainly, most definitely pay somebody else to do the laundry.  To be completely honest about that, I guess I’d have to admit that there have been other things that sudden extreme wealth would change….like buying brand-name TP.  Brand name TP would be a good thing too.  But laundry would be first!

I hate it so bad, I wrote this poem about it.  To compound the laundry problem, I have to point out that I’ve really never had an ideal laundry situation.  Now, before you tell me that there really is no ideal laundry situation, let me tell you a little bit about my laundry history.

I went to boarding school at the age of sixteen, and from then until I got married I was subject to a unique microcosm called the Laundromat.  In a laundromat, everybody is sitting around waiting, with nothing to do except examine other people’s laundry.  It’s like purgatory, except it smells like dirty gym socks and Tide Ultra. You get to know people in the laundromat…simply by observing what they are stuffing into the big-drum washers or pulling out to fold from those wheeled basket things.  Over time you get to know various members of the little laundromat society.  There’s the mother of five with the refluxing baby (five hundred mis-matched small socks, burp clothes and bibs piled to heaven, she has given up on the bleach and stain stick because everything-I-mean-everything is already stained, so why bother?).  There is that woman standing there in high heels and a skirt so short it looks like it should belong in Reflux Mom’s pile of size 4T.  She has at least five hundred pairs of underwear in various electric colors, the amount of fabric in all the underwear combined would add up to about 2/3 the amount of one of those burp clothes.  And then there is the bachelor, who stuffs two dozen pairs of faded Levi jeans into one washer, empties an unmeasured amount of soap into the overloaded machine and just leaves the place altogether– abandoning the laundry in favor of a venti mocha and leaving everyone else to clean up the mess when the machine seizes up and gritty grey suds overflow onto the floor.

And seriously?  More than once there was a person who was not going to waste this trip to the laundromat, and instead efficiently proceeded to do their laundry wearing nothing but their underwear.  Yeah, it happened more than once.

After hubby and I married and settled down, you would think that the laundry situation would have improved…and it has, compared to the laundromat days it has.  But still, we seem to have terrible luck in the laundry department.

For nine years, we had my hubby’s grandmother’s old washer and dryer set.  They were big.  They were built to last.  They were gloriously Harvest Gold in color.  These were the Lady Kenmore behemoths that every housewife circa 1965 dreamed of owning, and they still worked…ish.   That is to say, they worked if you left the lid of the washer wide open and crammed a pencil into the hole where the lid was supposed to shut, and if you didn’t mind fishing socks, hand towels, and the occational small animal out from behind the drum, where everything seemed to land.  And if you didn’t mind the dryer eating 1/10 of your load on a regular basis, and melting anything made of, well, anything melt-able.  Like the anti-slip feet on the kids’ footed pajamas.  The positive thing was, when they broke down (which they did on a regular basis) you could usually fix them with a flashlight, a roll of duct tape, and a pair of old nylons.

When we bought a home of our own, we left the Lady Kenmores behind.  And we went out to the scratch-and-dent store, where we purchased a beautiful (although scratched and dented) set of Maytag energy-saving, stack-able, front-loading washer and dryer.  They were pretty and new and so very hyphenated. They fit perfectly in our little laundry room, and looked sleek and efficient and refreshingly 21st century.

They were our worst purchase, EVER.  Unless you count that silver Volvo we once owned, but I digress.

The dryer was so energy efficient that it didn’t dry.  At all.  You would put your small load of laundry in there, after the washer had spun out every drop of water (assuming the washer was working on that particular day, which was admittedly a stretch) and after 3 1/2 hours you would load up your ball of still-damp laundry into a wicker basket and go peg it out on the laundry line outside.  Where it would have dried in less than half an hour, had you just put it there in the first place.  The problem was, it wasn’t broken…it was just born that way.  Online reviews (read too late) dubbed it “The dryer that doesn’t dry” and they were spot-on.  

And the washer?  I searched my blog for “Laundry” because I know I’ve visited this topic before, and here is what I had to say back in 2009:

On an entirely different note, we have experienced the untimely demise of our washing machine. Alas, Maytag…we hardly knew ye! Of course, as soon as we started looking online for how to fix it we were immediately faced with all the product reviews we should have read *before* purchasing the washer. It’s never a good thing when a product review includes such words as “unholy,” or such lines as “run screaming from this washer” and “I will gladly PAY you $100 if you come and take it away”. Seriously. But I digress….suffice to say, we spent the better part of yesterday rounding up every scrap of laundry in the house and sitting at Swishy Washy doing schoolwork as our laundry spun in an entire wall of washing machines. I didn’t have time to fold it while we were there, so this is what my living room now looks like:


Yeah, back to the laundromat.  Swishy Washy was refreshingly free of any underwear wearing laundry do-ers, but it was still a really big pain.

So now, where are we in the laundry saga?  I have a lovely, large capacity washer and gas dryer that work consistently and reasonably quickly.  In a nice big laundry room with plenty of space for the ironing board, the soap, and even that awesome lavender scented linen spritz you use on your freshly cleaned sheets.

Problem is, the downstairs has been turned into a basement apartment and the beautiful laundry room is now a beautiful little kitchen in said apartment.  We are blessed with a great renter who is understanding about the situation, however I am still left scheduling my laundry days to accomodate my limited access to the washer and dryer, which is now technically in somebody else’s house.  So I am back to stuffing a week’s worth of laundry into a few hours, hanging up the sheets and towels to dry on the rail of our deck in order to force as many baskets of laundry through in as short a time as possible.


Thus ends the saga of my laundry woes…at least, for the time being.  When the ghost of Ed McManhon shows up at my door with a million dollar check, I will be sending my laundry out.  Until then, I will do my best to appreciate the fact that I have not seen the inside of a laundromat in over a year now, and (most of the time) there are clean socks in the sock drawer.

Linking up with Gretchen Louise, who is sponsoring Laundry Week over at her blog…brave soul!

5 thoughts on “On Laundry

  • September 25, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Oh my word, miss RissaRoo – I think my man & I had the twin set of golden (baby poop yellow) machines!

    And are you serious about the basement being someone else’s apartment? Oh my word.

    Laundry mats – wow, used ’em in college and just last year whilst our stuff was in storage. Yikes.


  • September 26, 2012 at 2:07 am

    What a laundry saga you’ve had! 🙂 And your description of laundromats had me doubled over with laughter. Been there!

  • September 27, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Oh my…I’d be crying over your saga…if you hadn’t presented it in such a hilarious tone! Thanks for the laugh–and thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • September 28, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Darlene, wow! We’re Lady Kenmore twins! I wonder whose idea that harvest gold color was…your description of it is all too apt.

    Natasha, glad you laughed and glad/sad you can relate. Laundromats are quite interesting places.

    Gretchen, thanks for hosting the Laundry Week! And I’m getting lots of ideas from your posts and your link-up, taking notes for the day when laundry and I finally make friends.

  • November 25, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Ah, laundry…laundromats. I grew up with laundromats, too, because the farm I grew up on didn’t produce enough water for the washing machine, or so my father said. At any rate, my mom hauled the laundry and me to the small-town laundromat and we filled washers with clothes and the slots with quarters and did a bunch at once, with a fair amount of sitting around reading library books.

    My mom discovered about ten or 15 years ago that the local small-town laundromat, the same one we went to when I was young, would do her laundry for cheap. So she and my dad in their retirement drive over once a week, drop it off, and pick it up a day later all washed, dried, and folded. Easy.

    Do you live near a small town?


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